Fox Boss Kevin Reilly: Bones Is Almost a Lock for Season 10, Pilot Season Is Dead, Mindy and The X Factor Are On the Bubble, and More
Greetings from the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, where earlier today, Fox president Kevin Reilly spent his executive session with reporters detailing his hopes and dreams for the network's future, covering everything from his new year-round development approach to his opinion of Dads to the current renewal outlook for Bones, The Mindy Project, and The X Factor. Here are the highlights, "notes and quotes"-style.
On whether Bones will get a tenth season:
"We're negotiating on Bones for another season. I would anticipate it would be back. ... We've gotta make a business deal." (After the panel ended, Reilly confirmed to reporters that if/when Season 10 happens, it will "likely" be the series' last.)
On whether The X Factor will get a fourth season:
"There is no decision." Simon Cowell's statements that the show will definitely be back is just Cowell "doing what he should do as a producer." While the ratings "are not what we hoped," the show is a number-one brand around the world, and even in markets where it's fallen, it's often been able to "reanimate." If it does return for Season 4, "it would not be in the current format we have." For now, "we're going to blow through our option date which I think is sometime this week" and make a decision later. As for whether he's ultimately going to have to choose between American Idol and The X Factor, "I don't think it's between the two, I wish The Voice would go away first." Good luck with that last one, Kev!
On his plans for Sleepy Hollow Season 2:
The order is currently for 13 episodes, but we "may do a few more." Regardless, Reilly said the series will air uninterrupted in the fall, wrapping up before the end of the year. Now, he didn't expand on how he'll make that happen, especially if the show does add extra episodes while fighting for space on Fox's schedule during baseball playoffs and the World Series, but he did express frustration with scheduling breaks: "People can't watch television like that anymore! Three on and one off ... people don't know where it is! Next year we'll have 13 in a row." Finally, production on Season 2 will begin in March, just two months from now!
On Fox's new year-round development schedule and the death of pilot season:
Reilly actually showed a graphic with "Pilot Season" on a tombstone, and spoke at length about how he's pretty much finished with picking up a bunch of pilots in the spring and then sticking with the traditional schedule of ordering a select few of them to series to debut in the fall. Instead, he's going for a year-round development schedule. "Things are gonna stink, it's a hard business," he said, and likened his plans to a cable approach. "It's not a story for you guys if HBO rolls back a premiere date ... we want to have that same maneuvering ability." Many shows start out "good but not great," and the solution is often as simple as allowing more time for tweaks. Reilly cited Sons of Anarchy as an example, noting that from a traditional pilot-production standpoint, the show "never would've come into being if it'd been on network—we would've screened it and said that sucks and it would've been dead. [FX president] John Landgraf replaced the lead and reshot half that pilot; those are the kinds of things you can do when you have the maneuvering time." In order to make this vision a reality, Fox is doing everything it can to stock its pantry with plenty of goods: At one point recently "we were in production on 42 series at once, and some of them will air next summer." The aim is to "roll things out with focus," because "the audience just wants to watch a great show at the right time of year that's marketed to them and that they can be aware of."
On scheduling Enlisted on Friday nights (where it debuted to a 0.7 rating, btw) without giving it a preview anywhere else—like, say, the Tuesday-night comedy block:
"You're damned if you do, damned if you don't." Since Fox's Tuesday comedies have been "fragile in the ratings," Reilly is wary of "causing audience confusion." In the end, "I wanted to keep the four shows that we had in there in the rotation." But "I haven't given up on Friday night; we're going to continue to program Friday night with first-run shows."
On Fox's new development deal with The Lonely Island—a.k.a. Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Tacone, the trio behind some of SNL's best Digital Shorts—which will task the group with overseeing various comedy projects for the Fox family of networks:
"We're hoping to find the next Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the next Louie, or the next Key & Peele for that matter."
On sticking with Dads:
"I think Dads has come a long way. ... The cast is as good as any on television. It is what it is, it still takes lots of potshots, but they've smoothed out some of the choppiness."
"This is not a thing where ... you have a bunch of characters no one's ever heard of." Instead, it'll be an "operatic soap" with a "larger-than-life quality." The story will "arc from a from a young Bruce Wayne up through the end of the series when he puts on the cape." So, Smallville, but with the Batman!
On whether the The Mindy Project will get a third season:
"I love the show" and "I think it's really on-the-money right now." From a "glass half full, glass half empty" perspective, "the ratings are not where I wish they would be." But "it's a highly upscale show, it's a show that we actually make money on," and the upcoming hiatus "has nothing to do with the show—it's just to fit everything in." As for a its renewal chances, "I'm highly bullish on it being back next season."
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