Los Angeles - In his executive session at the TCA summer
press tour here Monday, Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly predicted a
very competitive TV season and acknowledged that for the first time in eight
seasons, Fox "may not win the season this year."
Part of that is certainly due to American Idol, whose ratings fell off about 25% last season and who
Fox on Monday confirmed its plans to reinvigorate the franchise by adding
Mariah Carey as a judge for season 12.
"Although we finished show at top once again... our ratings
were down. Not being the only game in town now, we need to keep things fresh,"
Reilly said in a nod to X Factor and The Voice.
Reilly said the decision for Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez
to depart Idol was mutual, and said
he had no comment about whether Randy Jackson would remain for season 12. He
did say that Jackson, who is Carey's co-manager, "was instrumental in doing
this deal" to bring her to Idol and
is "a very important part of that television show."
At the beginning of his session Reilly suggested the day be renamed Groundhog Day, a reference to the fact that he always seems to be fielding questions about the fate of Isol's judges, but acknowledged this would likely continue, if not every year.
"I think change is going to be part of the show going forward," he said. "We're 12 years old, I think we've got to keep it fresh."
And he defended the cost of that change in the form of pricey contracts for music stars like Lopez and Carey, saying bringing talent like that to the show is necessary to "generate a new dynamic" and sustain viewer interest.
Despite the increased competition on Idol from X Factor,
Reilly said he'd still rather have Simon Cowell on his team than against him
and said he expected X Factor "to be
even stronger in season two" particularly praising the addition of Britney
Spears to the judging panel.
"I think [the audience is] going to be surprised just how
feisty she is," Reilly said.
Reilly also said "we're pretty close" to announcing the new
host (or hosts) of X Factor, saying
the news could come in the next week or two. Cowell has hinted he would like to
have two hosts, as his U.K. version does, and Reilly says both possibilities
are being considered.
As for Glee, who
saw several main characters graduate at the end of season three, Reilly said
each episode in the fourth season would be split between the remaining students
at McKinley High and Ohio and those who have moved onto New York, a tactic that
Reilly says so far has been working "seamlessly."
On the drama side, Reilly pledged support for sophomore Touch, saying creator Tim Kring has
plans to make it easier for viewers to embrace the narrative. He also supports
that series' limited run of 13 episodes, which Fox will again do in midseason
with the Kevin Bacon thriller The
"Next year I'd like to find the fall version of that with
13-15 episodes as well," he said.
Despite predicting stiff competition from its closest broadcast
rival, CBS, Reilly said he "like[s] the way we're teed up this year" and even
if it doesn't win the season, "at the very least it's going to be close."