While all of the networks are pondering new programming models for network television, Fox’s broadcast season will officially run 52 weeks per year, with no concern about fall premiere week or Nielsen Media Research’s official start and end of the season.
"When May is over, our new season will begin in June," said Gail Berman, Fox’s entertainment president. "We are not seasonal programmers. We are 12-month-a-year programmers."
Berman added, "The goal of Fox, going forward, is to try to create a more stable schedule." That will depend, of course, on whether it can establish some solidly performing shows that don’t need to be pulled against competitive fare on the other networks. Fox was the first network to try a different approach to developing shows, buying scripts and pilots, and launching programs.
With the baseball playoffs in October, Fox has great difficulty premiering new shows in September and then getting viewers back in November. As a result, the network has begun buying and launching shows throughout the year, a strategy that paid big dividends last year with The O.C.
Fox has several shows preparing for a possible summer launch, including The Casino, a reality show from Mark Burnett about the days and nights of an old-town Las Vegas casino, and The Jury, a scripted courtroom drama. Berman also expects the network will run repeats of The O.C., of which it will have 27 episodes, to build the show before its second-season premiere next November.
American Idol returns to Fox on Monday, Jan. 19, a show Berman refers to as the "engine of our network." Berman expects American Idol, like last year, to boost the performances of surrounding shows, That 70s Show, 24 and The O.C.
Several shows are gearing up to launch on Fox, including unscripted My Big FatObnoxious Fiance, debuting Monday, Jan. 19, following the American Idol premiere. In March, Fox has three shows on tap: unscripted soap opera Forever Eden on Monday, March 1 at 9 p.m.; comedy Cracking Up on Monday, March 8 at 8:30 p.m.; and drama Wonderfalls on Friday, March 12 at 9 p.m.
Hit unscripted comedy, The Simple Life, could reappear in May, Berman said, with both Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie under contract to do another edition. "We’re talking about a couple of ideas," she said. "We should come up with a new plan shortly."
Fox also has six episodes of comedy The Ortegas and six episodes of Still Life that it has never aired, that could appear on the schedule this spring or summer.