Upfronts 2012: Fox Brass on 'Glee,' 'American Idol' and a New 'X Factor'
Hours before Madison Avenue buyers flood into the Beacon Theatre for Fox’s upfront presentation, Kevin Reilly and his Fox team took time to wax on about Kevin Bacon, The X Factor and a creative renaissance poised to occur on Glee.
In a conference call with reporters Monday, network brass was sure to tout its current standing as the No. 1 network in the coveted 18 to 49 demographic for the eighth consecutive year. Despite a few hiccups, including since-canceled Terra Nova and an underperforming X Factor, Fox also nabbed its 12th consecutive win among teens and the title of the most social TV network.
Here’s a look at what the group had to say:
Kevin Bacon’s The Following
Bacon is being heralded as the “casting coup of the season” by Reilly, who suggests TV will continue to court movie stars looking for richer content. The Fox exec called Bacon's heavily serialized serial killer thriller from Kevin Williamson the “next 24,” and noted that it would run uninterrupted beginning midseason. Bacon is contractually obligated to do 15 episodes per season, rather than the more traditional 22 to 24, which Reilly sees as a more cable-like model that he’d like to adopt for at least a portion of his series.
Future of American Idol
While Reilly and Fox Networks Group’s entertainment chairman Peter Rice stayed mum on details, the duo acknowledged that the next season of Idol will require tweaks and some creative reconfigurations. Whether that means new judges they won’t say. What they will say is that they should have considered changing up the show and creating more urgency, given the increasingly crowded marketplace this season. Still, they are confident that there is much life left in TV's no. 1 show.
The X Factor 2.0
Will widely speculated additions Britney Spears and Demi Lovato grace the Beacon Theatre stage as X Factor’s new judges later Monday? Rice and Reilly are staying quiet. Instead, they stressed the need to make the series more “entertaining” and “exciting,” something they believe a new jolt of talent at the judges’ table can do. They also used the platform to remind reporters that while X Factor fell short of expectations, it was still the No. 3 new show with a 4.3 rating, which, as Reilly put it, is “by anyone’s standards a hit.”
Touch to Fridays
The Kiefer Sutherland vehicle is moving to Fridays, where it will be paired with cult favorite Fringe, which will round out its final season. To hear Reilly tell it, the move is a vote of confidence in Fridays, an evening once dubbed TV's graveyard. In this case, Reilly is confident the rising sophomore series will perform in the live plus seven ratings, just as Fringe has done for the network. (Seventy percent of Fringe’s viewership comes from DVR viewing, according to Reilly, who acknowledges it's a new reality of the business.)
Glee’s Move to Thursday
The move had less to do with Glee than it did Reilly’s long-time desire to have a four comedy block, which he was “finally” able to do with Tuesday’s combo of Raising Hope, Ben & Kate, New Girl andThe Mindy Project. After years of struggle with live action comedy, Reilly suggests he’ll be building on the strength of New Girl to form a block of shows that he feels hits the mark tonally. As for Glee, the move will once again pit the musical series with Fox’s music competition shows (X Factor in the fall; Idol in the spring). Reilly noted that the new season of Glee should be something of a creative renaissance, with some of its key cast members moving to New York post-graduation and other new faces joining the fourth season series.
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