Fox's 'Dance' steps into fall

Move of summer hit sets up reality rumble; 'Fringe' in Thursday shift

Fox is going for a more seamless scheduling transition from fall to midseason with the addition of an in-season edition of the summer reality hit "So You Think You Can Dance" and is making a big play on Thursdays, moving J.J. Abrams' "Fringe" to challenge some of TV's biggest shows.

"Dance" will air as a two-hour performance show on Tuesdays and as a results show on Wednesdays, just as "American Idol" does in the spring, preventing the mass displacement of series in January to make room for "Idol."

"This is an aggressive move to add women and bring stability," Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly said during the network's hourlong Monday presentation at New York City Center, where advertisers were reminded often that broadcast TV continues to be a great place for them.

With "Dance" going to fall, its cycle for the first time will coincide with ABC's top hoofing competition "Dancing With the Stars." In fact, if ABC doesn't blink, "Dance's" performance show will air against the "DWTS" results show (and possibly NBC's top-rated reality series "The Biggest Loser").

Acknowledging "DWTS," Reilly stressed that "Dance" delivers "a younger and harder-to-reach audience."

The Wednesday edition of "Dance" will lead into Ryan Murphy's musical comedy "Glee," the only new Fox drama to launch in the fall as the network again saves most of its series for midseason, when it fires on all cylinders with "Idol." The clip show for "Glee," whose cast performed a musical number to Queen's "Somebody to Love" to close Monday's presentation, scored huge applause from ad buyers.

Meanwhile, "Fringe" — following a freshman season in protected slots behind "Idol" and "House" — is being put to the test in the highest-profile time period on television — 9 p.m. Thursdays — where it will go up against ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," NBC's "The Office" and CBS' "CSI" if the other networks don't shake up their lineups.

The decision marks Fox's latest move to seize Thursdays after it started to gain traction earlier this year with "Bones" and "Hell's Kitchen."

"The door is more open on this night than it has been in a long time," Reilly said. " 'Fringe' is a real alternative to 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'CSI.' "

Fox's highest-rated scripted show, "House," will remain at 8 p.m. Mondays, followed by the second season of "Lie to Me." The decision restores a strong lead-in to "Lie," which, following a launch behind "Idol," saw its ratings drop when shifted to 8 p.m. Wednesdays.

Rescued fan fave "Dollhouse" returns on Fridays, with a lead-in from two multicamera family sitcoms: newcomer "Brothers," which didn't get many laughs from ad buyers, and utility player " 'Til Death."

"We still believe in Friday when people are home and want something fun to watch," Reilly said. "There was something missing on broadcast TV that night — a strong family comedy hour."

"Family Guy" spinoff "The Cleveland Show," which scored a big reception from ad buyers, expectedly landed the best spot on Fox's Sunday comedy block, sandwiched between "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy." Wanda Sykes' new talk show is planned for 11 p.m. Saturdays.

In midseason, "Cleveland" will slide to 9:30 p.m. to make room for new offbeat single-camera comedy "Sons of Tucson." Reilly compared the show to Fox hit "Malcolm in the Middle," noting the network's decision to launch it in "the same time slot where 'Malcolm' became a hit."

Two WBTV dramas, "Human Target" and "Past Life," scored post-"Idol" launching pads in midseason.

"Target," whose trailer was packed with stunts and explosions, is getting an extra push as the network will premiere the drama based on the DC Comics property on Jan. 17 after an NFL playoff game, when "Target" will be followed by the season premiere of "24."

Katz TV's Bill Carroll said he liked "Target." He also praised the network's initiative to make viewers watch commercials, called Alive Air, which includes original interstitials with Fox series' characters dispersed during ad breaks.

"This is a way of providing advertisers with other opportunities," Carroll said.

As for Fox's "Remote TV" effort last year that saw ad time for "Fringe" and "Dollhouse" cut in half, with advertisers paying a premium for the spots, it will continue to be used for special episodes of different shows, Reilly said.

Absent from the schedule but making an appearance at Fox's presentation was Gordon Ramsay, whose "Hell's Kitchen" and "Kitchen Nightmares" have been keeping the chef on the network nearly year-round. Reilly said earlier in the day that both shows will return.

Other highlights from Fox's upfront presentation:

• Network executives were introduced by "24" star Kiefer Sutherland, who got one of the biggest ovations, followed by one of the biggest laughs when he finished his intro with: "I'll be looking for you at the bar," referring to the Fox afterparty. (Sutherland served jail time stemming from a DUI arrest after a Fox party in 2007.)

• New Fox Entertainment chairman Peter Rice, the former Fox Searchlight film exec, made his upfront debut, drawing comparisons between the reach of TV and the movies.

• Reilly finished his remarks with a sendoff to departing News Corp. president Peter Chernin.

James Hibberd reported from New York; Nellie Andreeva reported from Los Angeles.
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