Fox Backtracks on Skipping January TCA

The network will host an executive session at the winter critics confab.
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Walden and Newman

That was fast.

Days after announcing that executives from the Big Four broadcast networks would skip executive sessions at January's Television Critics Association press tour, Fox has backtracked on the decision.

Executives from Fox will now take the stage during the network's daylong presentation on Wednesday, Jan. 11. It's unclear which of Fox's executives — Dana Walden, Gary Newman or David Madden or any combination of the three — will take part in the panel. TCA president (and THR contributor) Amber Dowling confirmed the move in an email to members Friday, with the following statement from Fox: 

"We heard from many TCA members this week about how they value having an executive session twice a year. We were focused on presenting our midseason programming and we underestimated the interest in this panel. We are happy to accommodate the TCA members and we have adjusted our schedule to include an executive session this January. We look forward to seeing you in Pasadena."

The TCA announced Nov. 29 that CBS' Glenn Geller, ABC's Channing Dungey, NBCs Bob Greenblatt and Jennifer Salke would sit out the semi-annual tour in a bid to focus the press narrative on their big roster of midseason debuts. The move was met with a wave of criticism from TV press — including THR chief TV critic Tim Goodman, who called it a "chicken-shit decision" in a pointed column earlier this week.

It's unclear if CBS, ABC or NBC will follow Fox's decision. Netflix, Amazon and Starz are all sitting out the January tour. The CW president Mark Pedowitz, as well as execs from FX and Showtime, are still set to participate in January. The exec panels as well as Netflix, Amazon and Starz are all expected to return to the summer 2017 tour. FX will see Eric Shrier and Nick Grad join John Landgraf during his exec session. Amazon, meanwhile, will now present a luncheon pegged to Sneaky Pete. It's unclear if any executives who aren't producers on the series will take part.

Many networks have voiced concerns about the rising costs and questionable value of TCA — as well as the impact on shows that take the time away from production. What was initially conceived as a way for press to have access to executives, producers and talent for both new and returning shows has evolved, given the 24/7 news cycle and digital era. Gone are the days when talent was inaccessible and rarely did press. Instead, comments from the stage can often go viral before a panel ends, given the prolific use of social media during the tour. The latter can make or break shows (and executives).

Midseason broadcast shows that are expected to panel at TCA include ABC's Still Star-Crossed, Downward Dog, Imaginary Mary and Time After Time; CBS has Training Day and Superior Donuts;Fox has Shots Fired, Star, 24: Legacy, APB, Making History and The Mick; and NBC has Taken; Powerless; Trial & Error; Midnight, Texas; Great News; Chicago Justice; Marlon and The Blacklist: Redemption.

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