Fox at TCA: 'Following's' Violence, 'American Idol' Feuds and More

The Following Panel Winter TCA - H 2013
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The Following Panel Winter TCA - H 2013

Fox took the spotlight Tuesday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena, facing writers about its disappointing start to the 2012-13 season.

"We all screw up -- just look at my fall," entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly quipped, referencing his dead-on-arrival drama The Mob Doctor and an acclaimed but anemic comedy block. His network used the day to address all of it, as well as preview the serial-killer drama The Following and a rebooted 12th season of American Idol. Here's a rundown on the day's sessions and big announcements.

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The Following: Creator Kevin Williamson addressed violence on TV, particularly in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, and the woes of making a thriller for a broadcast audience. "How do you make something scary when you're writing toward a commercial break? That's been my struggle," he told reporters of broadcast's limitations, noting that he sought out the thrills that came with those of his favorite show, Fox's 24. In addition, he recalled an early fascination with Edgar Allan Poe, whose works inspire the cult in the Kevin Bacon drama."He had a very fascinating life, he was a very damaged writer... It's been a project percolating in my head for many, many years," he told reporters.

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American Idol: Producers and new judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj chalked up any behind-the-scenes tension on the reality juggernaut to passion, with Fox president of alternative entertainment Mike Darnell calling it "authentic." "This is American Idol, it's bigger than some stupid trumped up thing; it's about the next superstar that will come from this show," Carey said. As for the glut of singing competition series, Darnell noted that there are too many  on the air and "they're taking each other down a little bit." Still, he expressed confidence in Idol's latest reboot that also includes Keith Urban. "This is still the king of the shows, this is the only one that makes stars. Period."

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Executive session: Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly did not dance around the network's dismal fall. In his panel, he said that he remains invested in the critically adored -- if little watched -- Tuesday comedy block as well as The X Factor, which he argues was significantly stonger in its rebooted second season. Meanwhile, he revealed that he sees Fox's The Following as its way to compete with cablers again. "Before there was cable, Fox was cable ... We were the edge of what was bold," he reminded reporters.

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Tuesday comedy block: Featuring the stars of New Girl, Ben and Kate, Raising Hope and The Mindy Project, the talent addressed everything from Nick and Jess' New Girl romance (co-star Jake Johnson loves it), Nat Faxon's Oscar and the hilarity that was New Girl's "Gave me cookie, got me cookie" line. Mindy Kaling, meanwhile, used the opportunity to announce that scene-stealer Ike Barinholtz has been promoted from recurring to series regular as the freshman show continues its midseason revamp.  

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For more from TCA, stay tuned to, including a Party Diary going inside Fox's Tuesday festivities with the casts of Glee, Bones, Touch and more.