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Despite the absence of a formal upfront presentation, Fox Entertainment is pushing forward — as planned — with its fall schedule.
The network on Monday offered the first glimpse at one way in which broadcasters are navigating uncertain times amid the novel coronavirus crisis to program their fall schedules. While U.S. production remains halted amid the global pandemic, Fox is holding all of its new and returning live-action scripted originals for a midseason debut.
Amid an uncertain landscape, Fox is holding off on making decisions on the fate of its bubble shows, though Last Man Standing, The Resident and Prodigal Son are all expected to return for additional seasons (while the rookie comedy Outmatched is likely done). Decisions on new series orders — save for the newly ordered Mayim Bialik comedy Call Me Kat, which has been formally picked up — will also be made later. (The network also officially renewed Bob’s Burgers, which had already been working on its 11th season for some time.)
For the fall, the independent network will bolster its powerhouse animated lineup with L.A.’s Finest, the Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union drama that was developed at NBC before being picked up as cable provider Spectrum’s first scripted original. Season one of the Bad Boys spinoff from Jerry Bruckheimer will make its network TV debut Monday nights, filling the slot previously occupied by 911. Sources say producers Sony Pictures TV shopped second window rights to the series and Fox picked up both seasons one and two of the series. (Season one originally aired in May 2019, while the second season debuts next month.)
As expected, Fox turned to dramas Filthy Rich, from Tate Taylor, and John Slattery vehicle Next — both of which were ordered to series a year ago and have already completed filming — to debut in the fall rather than their planned summer launches. The same is true for MasterChef Junior, which has aired four of its seven previous seasons during midseason. As previously announced, Cosmos: Possible Worlds will also debut on Fox. (The Seth MacFarlane-produced docuseries recently wrapped its run on the National Geographic channel.)
While animated series have been able to continue production (via remote editors/animators), only returning hit The Masked Singer will need to find a way to complete production before the fall as the rest of Fox’s slate is already in the can. With the NFL on Thursdays and Sundays as well as wrestling on Fridays, Fox has fewer programming holes to fill with scripted series. However, should either sport be unable to proceed as planned, that would create six hours of question marks on the network’s fall schedule.
“The effects of this global health crisis leave no business unaffected. As a media company that prides itself on an entrepreneurial spirit and the focus that comes with doing fewer things better, we mobilized, swiftly creating an entirely new, original-programming lineup for the fall to share with our partners this upfront,” said Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier. “In remote meetings with advertising and marketing partners over recent weeks, we sought to listen first and understand each partner’s unique concerns. Our primary goal is to help them back to business, so in turn, the message we’ve shared is one of relative stability on Fox, combining the best of primetime sports and entertainment with which to help our partners and their customers back to market.”
Broadcast networks have been the most directly affected by the near industry-wide production shutdown as many scripted comedies and dramas were unable to complete production on their current seasons. Many have turned to creative with from-home specials or programs, like Fox’s Celebrity Watch Party, in a bid to fill the newfound holes on their spring schedules. Fox’s decision to hold completed programming for fall is but one of the strategies broadcasters have been mulling as a result of the the unprecedented landscape brought on from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Now, more than ever, consistency, results and stability take on an all-new emphasis,” said Fox ad sales president Marianne Gambelli. “Fox is primed and ready for the fall with a great deal of stability across our entire programming lineup, featuring premium content that continually resonates with viewers, and the necessary scale that builds demand and produces results. During these uncertain times, we remain focused on the individual business needs of our partners and will continue to work with them to develop custom solutions with our unmatched offerings of assets to help drive their businesses forward.”
As for Fox’s midseason plans, the network will have returning hits 911 and its spinoff 911: Lone Star, the rookie Call Me Kat and the animated comedies The Great North (another rollover from Fox’s 2019 upfronts orders), freshman Housebroken and season two of Duncanville. Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen — which was poised to air this summer — is also being held for next season.
Below is Fox’s fall schedule. Premiere dates will be announced later.
8-9 p.m.: L.A.’s Finest
9-10 p.m.: Next
8-9 p.m.: Cosmos: Possible Worlds
9-10 p.m.: Filthy Rich
8-9 p.m.: The Masked Singer
9-10 p.m.: MasterChef Junior
7:30-8 p.m.: Fox NFL Thursday
8-8:19 p.m.: Kickoff Show
8:20 p.m.: Thursday Night Football
8-10 p.m.: WWE’s Friday Night Smackdown
7-10:30 p.m.: Fox Sports Saturday
7-7:30 p.m.: NFL on Fox
7:30-8 p.m.: The OT / Fox Encores
8-8:30 p.m.: The Simpsons
8:30-9 p.m.: Bless the Harts
9-9:30 p.m.: Bob’s Burgers
9:30-10 p.m.: Family Guy
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