Fox Boss on Growing Tuesday Comedies, the Future of X Factor and New Details on Gotham
Less than 24 hours after Brooklyn Nine-Nine's surprise double wins at Sunday's Golden Globe Awards, Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly touted the network's Tuesday slate of comedies while also saying that he hopes for growth.
"I'm very proud of all four shows. I think they've all performed very well. ... We put a nice little crown on top with our wins," Reilly told reporters Monday at Fox's Television Critics Association winter previews. Although Reilly called the low ratings for Dads, Brooklyn, New Girl and The Mindy Project "a frustrating situation," he also noted that all four comedies are "at the top of the pack" compared to comedies on other networks. "Some of our mature shows are down ... so it's been a mixed bag, but the positive side is some of our new shows have performed quite well."
Reilly is hopeful that Brooklyn Nine-Nine still has room to grow, which is why it and New Girl were selected to follow the Super Bowl, which airs Sunday, Feb. 2 on Fox. "We wanted to grow the comedies. We needed the boost," he said. "We had a high degree of faith in [Brooklyn] as we do with New Girl, obviously."
Reilly also put his support behind Fox's much-maligned Dads, which he said has "come a long way" since its much-talked about debut. "If you've actually watched the show ... it is funny," Reilly said. "It makes me laugh. It is what it is. It still takes lots of pot shots." As for Fox's other freshman comedy, Enlisted, Reilly defended the decision to premiere the Army-based series on a Friday, instead of possibly previewing it on Tuesdays, to avoid "confusion" for viewers. "Honestly, I haven't given up on Friday. We are going to continue to program first-run shows on Friday," he said. "I'm going to hang with [Enlisted] through the 13 and see what the DVR numbers look like."
Although The Mindy Project will soon go on an extended hiatus — to make room for Glee's move back to Tuesdays on Feb. 25 — Reilly said that the break has nothing to do with the ratings. "I'm pretty bullish on it coming back. I love the show, Reilly said. "The ratings are for us, are not where I wish they would be." Despite that, Reilly said that the show is profitable thanks to its "highly upscale" audience, which Reilly hopes to build. "It's just running great," he said. "That little hiatus has nothing to do with the show, it was just trying to get everything in."
Some other highlights from Reilly's executive session:
Saying goodbye to Glee — and Lima?: When speaking with reporters after the session, Reilly confirmed that the rest of the season will take place exclusively in New York City after the 100th episode to follow the adventures of Rachel, Kurt & Co. "For the second half of this year, the kids will graduate and we will go to New York exclusively for the second half of the year and then he's got some fantastic ideas on what we're going to do next year for the final year," he said. As for the show's sixth season, which Reilly confirmed will be its last, it is unclear who will be returning and just how much of the last season will take place in Lima, Ohio, after Artie, Sam, Blaine and several others graduate. "Some are going to be graduating and moving. Creatively, it would be ridiculous if everybody and moved to New York. There's going to be some who will graduate and move on. They will be arched back in when we do special episodes," Reilly said. "The way it's going to dovetail next season, we will see some familiar faces coming around in some capacity, but for this season, there will be a graduation. Several of the cast members will move on and a few others will go to New York."
A possible reduced return for The X Factor: Reilly said "no decision" has been made on a fourth season of The X Factor after it "under-performed" this past fall. "The ratings were not what we hoped for, but this is a No. 1 brand around the world," he said. "If the show were to come back, it would not come back in the current format. ... Ultimately there would be less hours if we were to do it," Reilly said, but noted not to count Simon Cowell out yet.
Changes ahead for American Idol as well: Reilly said Idol will "have some real changes in those middle rounds," during what was formerly Hollywood Week. He also promised the show would spend "less time with the sort of ridiculous contestants."
An extended Season 2 for Sleepy Hollow?: The hit series has already been renewed for a 13-episode second season, but Reilly said Fox "may do a few more [episodes]. There's not a magic number," he said. Just don't expect the series to expand to a traditional 22-episode season anytime soon. "I think a lot of dramas are just better creatively with a shorter order," he said.
Gotham takes a page from Smallville: Ben Affleck may be playing Batman on the big screen, but Bruce Wayne is also coming soon to a TV near you. Reilly spilled new details on Fox's upcoming series Gotham, most notably that it will feature a young Bruce Wayne "somewhere around 12 [years old]." "This is all of the classic Batman characters with a young Bruce Wayne with a Detective Gordon before he comes Commissioner," Reilly said, adding that classic villains like The Penquin, The Riddler and The Joker would also pop up. "It is going to be this operatic soap that has a slightly larger-than-life quality and we will arc a young Bruce Wayne from a child to the final episode of the series when he will put on the cape." Sound like any other television series about a superhero's origin story?
A new ending for Fox's Broadchurch remake: While Gracepoint, Fox's upcoming 10-episode adaptation of the British hit series Broadchurch, won't stray far from the original in many respects — "don't fix what ain't broke," Reilly said — there will be one big difference. "We have a different ending than they have, so there will be something to stay tuned to," he said.
The death of pilot season, at least for Fox: Following months of granting early series orders to shows from Tina Fey, SNL's John Mulaney, M. Night Shyamalan, among others, Reilly put up a graphic of a tombstone with the text, "R.I.P. pilot season." For the first time, Fox is "going to be bypassing pilot season," Reilly said, noting that the "highly inefficient" system was built for a "different era." Reilly hoped that breaking free out of pilot season, and moving up production on shows on shows such as Backstrom and Season 2 of Sleepy Hollow to March instead of a traditional July start date, would benefit the creative process. In the case of new shows particularly, Reilly said he hoped more time would allow the networks to "course-correct" the way cable networks do and cited FX's recasting of Sons of Anarchy's lead role, which led to a massive re-shooting of the pilot. "We can't be in the one-size-fits-all business," Reilly said.
(Additional reporting by Natalie Abrams)
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