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

By Jen Trolio

Jan 13, 2014

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 BonesThe 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."

On the still-in-development Batman series Gotham

"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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  • Svanehjerte Jan 16, 2014

    Shame there's only 13 episodes, but it's better than none.

    I don't really understand, instead of pilots around spring to be aired in fall, it will be pilots to be aired next year instead?

  • lynna12000 Jan 16, 2014

    As long as they keep the quality, I would not mind if Sleepy Hollow S2 was only 13 episodes. Look what they have done this season alone finale looks like it's going to be a doozy. British television series don't seem to suffer from only having a small number of episodes per season.

    Taking a page out of cable television's book isn't a bad thing. Running series with out any, or at least limited, interruptions is a good thing.

  • JT_Kirk Jan 15, 2014

    I swear, reading this is like reading someone angrily slam themselves against the bars of a cage, and it's a cage of their own build. Putting 42 series into production on a network that chews through shows without any support is suicide, it's like Reilly and team have no idea what people want so they just throw it at the screen and hope for something to stick. There's clearly no vision at the top, they're like the anti-FX.

    Smallville with Batman, wasn't that the GODDAMNED STARTING POINT OF SMALLVILLE TO BEGIN WITH, and the only reason they couldn't then is because of the new, risky Batman Begins movie? I don't want to see a series with The Joker and The Penguin hanging out with Bruce Wayne at a high school football game while taunting Harvey Dent. Gotham is a huge problem now.

  • edshrinker Jan 14, 2014

    I am torn. The pace at which Sleepy Hollow has been able to go in due to a 13 ep season. Arguably, I have not felt like there has been one filler ep in the season. It moves so smartly and so fast. So while I WANT a full season of SH - maybe they should stick to this formula. I DO like he opened it up to maybe a few more - maybe a couple "special 2 hour events" in the spring? That would be very cool.

  • marcusj1973 Jan 14, 2014

    So, 'Bones' gets a decade long run and 'The Newsroom' gets the axe after three? That right there is the difference between network and cable and one is destroying the other. Hell, X-Factor got a 4th year.

    Bones has been a poor caricature of itself for the past 3-4 year so of course Fox renewed it. Make no wonder they're a Simpsons punchline.

  • absolute6991 Jan 14, 2014

    Love Bones sad to see lose it. However, recently it got boring. As exemple Pilat's arch story .
    To end Bones we need an arch story that would end bad for one (or both) main character (Bones or/and Booth). The seriers is way too "good" even in the loss of recurring characters.
    They got married, they got their family... viewers (I) don't want more for them so to kill the series I need something else than a ride into the sunset I need a real end which seems for the moment DEATH . Therefore no wishes to come back to It.

    Well it is so far a fantastic 9 years run. We'll take 1 more year and THE END

  • absolute6991 Jan 14, 2014

    dam Pilante

  • CaitlinRice Jan 14, 2014

    I like that we're finally seeing the networks become a bit more flexible and realize that their model isn't working anymore. A year-round development slate is amazing for all the reasons he has stated. Maybe we'll see the networks experimenting a little more with having more shows on the summer slate.

    What probably makes me the happiest is his acknowledgment that the number of weird, random weeks off is completely annoying and terrible and maintaining viewership. But I have no idea how Fox can avoid this in the fall if they keep airing the baseball playoffs and World Series.

  • Twezzy90 Jan 14, 2014

    I think he said some interesting things.... Not sure how much of it is BS and how much is serious but it's definitely going to be interesting to see if Fox dives head first into a new programming style. I personally prefer how cable does broadcasting so it'll be nice to see the big networks take a whack at it with a larger audience pool.

    But to be honest some of the issue isn't just the breaks but promotion of the shows. They have to willing to put in the time to let people know when a show is on if they actually want people to watch it. Just placing it on the schedule and hoping for the best is ridiculous!

  • missjudgment Jan 14, 2014

    Come on, give Mindy a chance!

  • crazedtvhead91 Jan 16, 2014

    It rocks!!!! And is so funny!!!! I feel like a lot of people prejudge it as not funny without even watching one ep.

  • FilmFanatic Jan 14, 2014

    To be honest, Fox has some great shows (more than some) but the way it's been treating these shows is pretty bad. Long breaks, unexpected return dates, bringing them back for 2 episodes only, waiting till november to air 10 new episodes back to back or even changing their days on the schedule (the worse) ... It's all a big mess. There is no structure or fixed timetable

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