Fox unveils fall, midseason schedules

'Glee' grabs post-Super Bowl slot; 'Lonestar' for fall

Fox's plans for the upcoming TV season include an "American Idol" time warp and a "Glee"-full Super Bowl Sunday.

At midseason, Fox plans to shorten the weekly results episode of "Idol" to a half hour, while stretching each week's longer episode to 90 minutes.

"We looked at some of the feedback and viewers want us to tighten up the results show," Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said Monday during the network's upfront presentation in New York.

Reilly added that the moves would free up some half-hour time slots for comedies, "which are a big part of our development this year."

As for replacing departing judge Simon Cowell, Fox entertainment chairman Peter Rice said the network will launch its search after the upfronts.

"There's no bigger question for the summer," Rice said. "We have to find a judge to replace Simon that has music credibility and provides incredible entertainment value."

Reilly nixed any extended hiatus for "Glee" this year, with Fox running the show to December and then bringing it back for a post-Super Bowl slot.

"The Super Bowl is so big there are many shows that are not the most compatible that still (benefit) from such a wide audience," he said in response to a dubious query about the plan. " "Grey's Anatomy' wasn't the perfect fit a few years back, and that worked out well."

Fox will pair top-rated "House" with new Texas oil soap "Lonestar" on Mondays, giving the network a strong drama night, and the network will launch a comedy block on Tuesdays to be anchored by "Glee." Wednesdays will be a mixed bag, with returning procedural "Lie to Me" joining network's second highest-rated reality show, "Hell's Kitchen."

Fox will continue its strategy of stocking Thursdays with scripted dramas "Bones" and "Fringe." On Fridays, Fox plans to air "Human Target" leading into "The Good Guys," which the network hopes to roll from summer into fall.

Steven Spielberg's "Terra Nova" isn't yet on the network's schedule, but Fox confirmed the show will join its lineup at midseason, along with comedies "Bob's Burgers" and "Mixed Signals."

Execs promised a high-end production for "Terra Nova," a dino-drama about a family from 100 years in the future that travels back in time 150 million years. Fox tapped Brannon Braga and David Fury for the "Terra Nova" writing staff after Spielberg requested writers from "24."

"Terra Nova'" will have an "enormous production commitment," Reilly said.

Episodes will be mostly stand-alone stories, and though the series will boast a show mythology "you won't need a study guide to follow it," he quipped.



Reilly took a shot at press stories about other networks, which have focused on how many new shows rivals will launch next season.

"I assure you, no network can spend enough money to support those new shows," he said, after mentioning reports of a dozen new series on one network.

"Tentpole movies spend $75 million to create awareness," Reilly said. "When you got that many new shows spread across the week, you can't support it."

In general, Fox's Beacon Theater presentation featured strong trailers and enough energy to bolster the impression that the No. 1 network of the past six years shouldn't have much problem maintaining the top spot.

Fox opened with the parade of actors, capped by "House" star Hugh Laurie making a pitch to advertisers -- a move the network has employed in recent years, though previously with Kiefer Sutherland holding the microphone. The stars were followed by a lengthy discourse from ad sales chief Jon Nesvig.

A key point made in several ways: Broadcast TV is alive and healthy. Fox even referenced CBS' "Big Bang Theory" and ABC's "Modern Family" to drive home the point.

But an attempt to paint ultra-expensive Super Bowl ad spots as "one of the best bargains in advertising," was met with laughter from the Madison Avenue crowd. And there was no shortage of chest pumping by Fox events.

"Our programs are not only massive hits, they're the most searched about and the most talked about," Rice said. "There are very few places where you can truly impact culture."

But execs had to absorb some good-natured jibes as well.

"Glee" co-star Jane Lynch introduced Reilly by observing the entertainment president has been "coasting on those shiny local weatherman looks." Lynch paused before adding, "Dear God, how many times does he bleach his teeth?"
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