A programming note from Fox's exec suite


Looking to make the strike-related overhaul of the development process permanent, Fox is tweaking its programming operations by bringing in FX's Matt Cherniss as executive vp and giving the comedy and drama development teams creative oversight of freshman series.

"It's all hands on deck for the transition (from the old to the new development model)," Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said. "Matt is a very precise programmer and the ideal executive to lead the charge."

The executive vp position at Fox has been vacant since July, when Craig Erwich exited in the aftermath of Reilly's appointment. The exec vp post was practically eliminated then, after comedy and drama development heads that had reported to Erwich became Reilly direct reports.

Now, senior vp comedy Susan Levison and senior vp drama Laura Lancaster will report to Cherniss.

The decision to restore the exec vp position came from Reilly's desire to work again with Cherniss, whom he had hired at FX six years ago, as well as out of necessity because the workload at Fox had increased significantly.

Right now, the network is prepping and shooting pilots for next season, getting its newly picked-up series up and running while also starting to develop projects for the 2009-10 season.

And there are no plans to slow down anytime soon.

"We would like to be at least a half and hopefully a full cycle ahead in development," Reilly said.

Along with Fox's transition to the year-round development model, its management structure also is expected to evolve during the next year.

But despite adding an exec vp post, "I will be keeping layers to a minimum," Reilly said. "We are going to carve out the work, making sure there is one point executive on each project."

Under the new structure, Fox's comedy and drama development departments will shepherd rookie series for "up to the first year, until each show finds its footing and is mature."

Fox's head of current, Marcy Ross, will handle logistical issues for the launch of new series, including coordinating digital extensions and sales components.

NBC eliminated its current department this year, giving the heads of comedy and drama development oversight of the network's current series. The plan is said to have been initially put into motion by Reilly while he was an entertainment president at NBC.

Cherniss, who began his career at Fox in network research and current development, most recently served as senior vp original programming at FX. (partialdiff)