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Fox is reaffirming its already sizable commitment to animated comedy.
The network announced Sunday morning at the Television Critics Association winter press tour that it will launch a late-night 90-minute animation block on Saturdays, starting in Jan. 2013.
“It’s something that we’ve been working on for a while,” Fox president of entertainment Kevin Reilly said at the start of his executive session. “We have real estate on our schedule in Saturday night late night that we’ve not been programming in quite a few seasons.”
The new unit overseeing the development and production of the alternative animated series will be run by former Adult Swim head Nick Weidenfeld, who serves as EP of Children’s Hospital and The Boondocks. Hend Baghdady will also serve as executive in charge of production.
The slate of animated shorts and series will run online and on-air, with four new animated series planned per season with the 2013 launch. The line-up will go head-to-head against NBC’s Saturday Night Live, running from 11:00 p.m. to 12:30 am ET/PT.
But Reilly seemed to place just as much focus on the online tie-in.
“This may be the first time a network is building a clear bridge for talent to develop and grow ideas in the digital/alternative arena and organically move them into the mainstream,” he said in a press release. These new late-night series will be assets in their own right – but the clear possibility exists for a breakout digital success to graduate to primetime.”
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