UPFRONTS: Why Fox Shook Up Its Fall Schedule (Analysis)

2:13 PM PST 05/11/2011 by Kim Masters
Peter Sorel/FOX
"The Chicago Code"

THR talks to top talent reps about the cancellation of such shows as "The Chicago Code," "Lie to Me" and "Human Target."

Despite the rage of fans, Tuesday night’s Fox massacre is meeting with approval from a number of top talent reps.

Their view: The elimination of a raft of bubble shows including Lie to Me, The Chicago Code, Human Target, Breaking In and Traffic Light came from a position of strength.

“They had a bunch of not-great shows, and instead of putting lipstick on ’em, they got rid of them,” one agent says.

Although the network still hasn’t nailed live-action comedy, Fox is poised to round out another season No. 1 in the 18 to 49 demo. It has American Idol dominating in the spring and will likely launch Simon Cowell's The X Factor in the Idol time slot in the fall. “That is going to chew up a ton of real estate,” one talent rep says. “Their needs are not what they were two years ago. Sunday night they have animation, X Factor is going to take up two nights a week, and they only program from 8-10 p.m.”

Additionally, Fox is laying a huge wager on the sci-fi epic Terra Nova and has already ordered the animated comedies Allen Gregory and Napoleon Dynamite to series. A source tells The Hollywood Reporter that the former will likely launch in the fall and the latter in the winter.

One agent reported rumblings that the network will attempt to solve another perennial problem -- Saturday late-night -- with animation, a strong suit at Fox (see The Simpsons and recently renewed Family Guy). "This would be their run at Saturday Night Live," another source adds.

As for the pilots that were picked up late Tuesday, buzz is strong on Zooey Deschanel's The New Girl and Jaime Pressly's I Hate My Teenage Daughter, comedies with more of a female-centric feel. But Alcatraz? “Picked up for the relationship” with J.J. Abrams, one says. (In late March, the net renewed Abrams' low-rated fan favorite Fringe.)

The Bones spinoff Finder is a pretty safe bet, with multiple reps suggesting the pickup is a way for Fox to keep the profitable franchise alive after the pricey original ends. And with Kiefer Sutherland's Touch in the on-deck circle, the chances of Fox maintaining its standing at the top seem strong.

Agents expect ABC to go next, picking up Don’t Trust the Bitch and the untitled Tim Allen comedy along with six or more dramas, likely led by Charlie’s Angels, Good Christian BitchesShonda RhimesScandal and Identity.

Additional reporting by Lacey Rose.

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