TV Upfronts: THR Live-Blogs Fox's Presentation
Get minute-to-minute updates from The Hollywood Reporter's Editor-at-Large Kim Masters, who is inside the Beacon Theatre as network chief Kevin Reilly sells the fall season to advertisers.
After announcing its fall and midseason schedule and reviving 24 as a 12-episode limited series during a morning conference call with reporters Monday, Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly presented his lineup to Madison Avenue ad buyers during an afternoon presentation at the Beacon Theatre. Follow along with The Hollywood Reporter's Editor-at-Large Kim Masters as she live-blogs the presentation from inside the theater.
4:16 The presentation opens with a montage on the changing nature of the business with talking wonks and creative (including J.J. Abrams, Liz Meriwether, Mindy Kaling, Ryan Seacrest and James L. Brooks). But Fox is different, fresh, edgy, fun! Enter Kevin Reilly and sales guy Toby Byrne. "Things are changing," Reilly says. "It's an amazing time of transition." After the well-reported troubles with American Idol and The X Factor, he admits: "This was not our best year" but adds, "We will be No. 1 again next season." As with NBC, there's lots of talk about selling cross platforms. Reilly and Byrne tout the youth of the Fox audience and say their network is a dominant No. 1 in terms of social media. Cable may be good, Reilly says, but broadcast still dominates in top shows. Reilly also says Fox is closing in on year-round programming. Now the new shows.
4:45 Montages resume as talent talks comedy, new and not. A large group of talent from the network's new and returning comedies takes the stage for a second. New Girl scene-stealer Max Greenfield (Schmidt) takes the mike while the stage clears. He clowns around -- sleeveless after giving his jacket to an audience member -- before introducing Seth MacFarlane live-action comedy Dads. The slacker dads moving in with their sons plays kind of flat. Fox is after guys this go-round after seeing its female-themed Tuesday comedy block struggle this past season. With men the priority, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a cop comedy starring Saturday Night Live's Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher is up next. The latter plays the tough boss, Samberg the talented rascal cop. This one gets a somewhat warmer reception. Next up is Enlisted, starring The Finder's Geoff Stults in a half-hour about screw-up soldiers in training. It's pretty broad. With some of these shows, it's hard to see how they'd sustain themselves over more than a couple of episodes. But Enlisted is relegated to Fridays, so there's that. Reilly is also high on Christopher Meloni in Surviving Jack as a replacement show. Guessing this doesn't last as long as Law & Order: SVU. The clips are notoriously hard to judge but comedies should be clippable and these didn't seem to light up the room. Fox feels uncharacteristically low key.
4:59 Sports before drama with the Super Bowl on Fox this time! Fox scores the biggest applause yet when the Michael Strahan says the network is giving scarfs to everyone in the audience. Reilly follows that up with digital talk. He notes everyone knows most digital content "stinks" but Fox is working on a better version. Clips from comedy sketch show, animated block, comedy. And back to primetime. Reilly says American Idol is still a top five show. Stars from Fox's unscripted roster take the stage, including Simon Cowell, who promises changes to The X Factor's format and asks archly, "Where's randy?" Ryan Seacrest replies, "Ask Kevin." The exchange draws audible laughs from the theater and a colorful response from Gordon Ramsay.
5:30 Drama begins with The Following -- it's working for Fox but even the clips are too nasty to watch. Averting my gaze now. Love star Kevin Bacon, though. There's a pretty enthusiastic cheer when he and other drama stars --including Greg Kinnear from Australian remake Rake -- gather on stage. Kinnear introduces the drama clips package. The Sleepy Hollow update is creepy, graphic and supernatural but it seems to play pretty well in the room. Of course, J.J. Abrams has another drama this season in Almost Human, which features robot cops but some don't work right. Some are, you know, almost human. There's lots of action and the guys are cute (including Abrams' Star Trek star Karl Urban). Reilly calls it "a buddy cop show." In January, midseason effort Gang Related hails from the writer behind Fast and the Furious. It centers on a cop with family gang ties who is torn between two worlds. Finally, clips from Kinnear's own show, Rake. It's in the House mold -- funny and dark -- and features a gambling, womanizing defense lawyer. This one does pop and garners applause from the audience. Reilly next touts Fox's big push into miniseries. The network started Monday by announcing two: a revival of 24 and M. Night Shyamalan's Wayward Pines. Reilly also touts those still in development, including Blood Brothers, set during the Civil War; one about the O.J. Simpson case; Shogun and a previously unannounced entry about Billy the Kid. The crowd claps for 24: Live Another Day. "'Nuff said," Reilly says. Give credit to him: he's trying to move things along and bring it in at 90 minutes. Finally, there's previously announced Cosmos, a reboot of a Carl Sagan's series that, like Dads and nearly everything on Fox's Sunday animated block, hails from Seth MacFarlane,who apparently needs no sleep. It's a science doc! It's in a worthy cause! It's not education -- it's making MacFarlane happy! A YouTube mash-up inspired clip package wraps things up and we are outta here.
Email: Kim.Masters@thr.com; Twitter: @KimMasters