Fox TV Boss Gary Newman Talks 'American Idol' Return, Hints at 'Buffy' Reboot
“'Buffy' is probably our most ripe show for a remake ... when Joss (Whedon) decides it's time, we'll do it.”
Fox Television Group chairman & CEO Gary Newman gave hope to all Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanatics that the beloved 1990s series could return to the small screen.
Speaking at the INTV conference in Israel Tuesday, Newman listed off many of Fox's successful series reboots — including The X-Files, 24 and Prison Break — before acknowledging that Buffy “is probably our most ripe show for a remake, it's something we talk about frequently.”
But Newman said the choice to bring back Buffy is up to series creator Joss Whedon.
“Joss Whedon is one of the greatest creatives we've ever worked with,” Newman said. "When Joss decides its time, we'll do it, until Joss does, we won't.”
A Buffy reboot, Newman added, made a lot of sense given the show's passionate fan base and built-in brand recognition, elements he said were key to successfully reviving a TV series. “If there isn't a passionate fan base, a sense of nostalgia, I don't really see the need to bring back the show,” he noted.
Asked about the recent reboot of American Idol — ABC launched its revival of the hit music competition format on Sunday, just two years after the show finished its 15-season run on Fox — Newman said he thought it was “a little too soon” to bring back Idol but admitted ABC “got a pretty good start.” Idol was easily the top show Sunday night, averaging a 2.3 rating among adults 18-49 and 10.3 million viewers over two hours. While low by Idol's standards, the result was impressive given the current state of the U.S. television market. NBC's The Voice, the number one singing competition on air, scored a 2.8 rating with 12.3 million viewers with its new season premiere.
Newman addressed the elephant in the room, talking about the impact of Walt Disney's $52.4 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox, which was announced in December. “Anyone who said they saw this coming is full of it,” said Newman, noting that the takeover was negotiated “relatively quickly and stealthily” at the very top of the two companies.
Speaking to the future of the merged mega studio, Newman said, pending regulatory approval, “we aren't really allowed to be in conversations among operating units, so we haven't really sat in meetings about what the future is. But it will be an amazing company with unmatched brands.”
But Fox Broadcasting, Newman said, would benefit post-merger from no longer being tied to a parent studio. Under the terms of the merger, 21st Century Fox will spin off Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox Sports, Fox News, Fox Television Stations and a handful of other assets into a new company.
“Fox Broadcasting is going to be a different play (post-merger), it's not going to be beholden to a studio,” said Newman. “I think the new Fox has a interesting opportunity to create an avenue for the independents and the agencies to bring their best players and products to Fox and have an inside track to get on the network.”
When it comes to securing top TV talent, Newman noted that a major challenge would be competing with the deep pockets of the online players. Netflix recently scored a major coup, stealing Fox hit-maker Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story) in a five-year deal worth as much as $300 million. But, Newman noted, Fox still has seven ongoing series with Murphy — including two with Netflix — “so we will be working with Ryan for a long time.”