TCA: Kevin Reilly, Fox (Executive Analysis)
State of the network address to critics, reporters: dead show walking?
What he got right: He showed up, which is more than can be said for Nina Tassler and CBS, who aren’t planning an executive session on Wednesday. For his part, Reilly was able to make the point that Fox had a great fall, has done well with a non-animated comedy (New Girl) and appears strong heading into midseason. Reilly kept it light, fast and was mostly forthcoming, even if he ultimately didn’t announce any of the tough cuts he and Fox are probably going to make any day now.
What he got wrong: Well, if you’re going to hesitate on the fate of your shows – Terra Nova, House, Fringe -- it’s going to make us think they’re dead, which they probably are, so you might as well have just said it. Like admitting that Allen Gregory is dead. That was very straightforward. And that less-than-ringing-endorsement for Steve Jones probably means something bad for Steve Jones, yes? Oh, and he used the term “high-class problem” too often. A problem is still a problem. Even if you haven't dealt with them yet.
The takeaway: Fox clearly needs to make some big decisions, though the only one that doesn’t seem like a done deal is Terra Nova (and really, with all those cooks in the kitchen, shouldn’t they have cooked up something more compelling by now?). Most everything else is doing good business and, if anything, Reilly could have done some gloating because it’s going to be hard to beat the network this season.
Quotes of note:
On the House decision: “I think we’ve just been avoiding it. It’s hard to imagine the network without House… We kind of agreed mutually to put it off (until the start of 2012). It’s no secret last year we said it was going to be a close call and probably its last year. But honestly, we just haven’t made that decision.”
The understatement: “I don’t know, we’ve done a good job of avoiding these big decisions.”
What to do with Terra Nova: “I feel fortunate that we have some high class problems.”
More on Terra Nova: “We made money on it, the studio money on it…There’s a show there to bring back – there’s an audience there to access.” However: “The show was hunting for itself creatively through the season.” OK, so what are you going to do with it? “We won’t be able to drag our feet on it much longer.”
Reilly said Fox had “one of the strongest falls we’ve had in our history” thanks to The X Factor. And what did he learn from the whole X Factor experience? “I loved it.” However, he did say there would be changes on the show, of which he had no concrete information because Simon Cowell and Fox reality guru Mike Darnell also don’t know exactly what changes will be made yet, either. But there wasn’t a ringing endorsement for the return of host Steve Jones.
On the future of singing competition shows: “When the audience is bored we’ll know it’s over.” For his part: “I’m really happy we have X Factor.” Of Amerian Idol, Reilly said: “I expect Idol will be down this year” but mostly because it’s been around so long and declines are inevitable.
On the animation front: “Bob’s Burgers we’ve ordered beyond next spring….We won’t be making any more Allen Gregorys.” He believes Bob’s Burgers will take creative leaps this year to be among its high-end animated hits.
On pulling New Girl off the schedule in the fall because of baseball: “We took a hit…
A three week interruption while you’re getting out of the gate on any show” is hard to rebound from, though Reilly noted that New Girl remained strong in the ratings after that.
“What are we going to do with Fringe? We’re going to get the Terra Nova, House and Fringe people in the same room, hold hands….”
Bottom line: “We lose a lot of money on the show,” Reilly says of Fringe. “We’re not in the business of losing money.”
As for Glee, Reilly said there will be no spin-off show but that some of the characters will graduate and series creator Ryan Murphy has interesting things for them to do, which will be hinted at in the spring and delivered on in the fall.