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Fox Highlights from The Winter Press Tour

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THE PROGRAMMING INSIDER
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
 

TCA Winter Press Tour 2010:

Fox Day
 
TV Tidbits:
Notes of Interest from The Winter Press Tour
 
On the Air Tonight:
Prime-Time Programming Options
 

TV Trivia Time:

Small Screen Longevity

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Note: Due to the early release of The Programming Insider, metered market (overnight) results were not available for Monday, Jan. 11. But don’t forget to log onto PIFeedback.com for the fast affiliate results by about 12 p.m.  

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TCA Winter Press Tour 2010:

Fox Day

 

Unlike CBS and wounded NBC, Fox’s executive session with Peter Rice, Chairman, Entertainment and Kevin Reilly, Fox President of Entertainment was smack in the middle of the day.  Immediately addressing the rumor that Conan O’Brien is bolting NBC for Fox, there are no immediate plans in the works. Said Kevin Reilly:

 

“I love Conan personally and professionally, but right now he’s got a decision to make about his future, and until he makes that decision, there really is no conversation to be had, and we have not pursued it We talked to his people, who we are in business with on multiple fronts. We talk to them all the time. So we’ve had some informal conversations, mostly commiserating about the situation. Beyond that, we’re not free to talk about any other business negotiation or business proposition, and we haven’t. So that’s really all we can tell you on that front.”

 

What could have been another session focused on NBC’s woes took a 180 degree turn when Fox brought out American Idol host Simon Cowell, who announced he is leaving the long-running (and top-rated) reality/competition in May to launch a U.S. version of U.K. hit The X Factor, which will debut in fall 2010. Cowell will serve as both executive producer and judge of the U.S. version, which will feature the judges mentoring a select group of musical wannabes. Unlike, Idol, there is no age limit for the participating contestants. 

 

“I’m confident that it will continue to be the No. 1 show, and everyone’s committed to keeping it that way,” said Cowell. “I think the network has made a commitment for at least three more years.”

 

“We are incredibly committed to American Idol, as we’re committed to The X Factor,” added Peter Rice. “They will air in different parts of the year. The American public loves American Idol. Simon is irreplaceable, but it’s going to be incumbent upon us to make sure the show remains vital and entertaining and compelling, and it’s a show that has launched superstars. People love the format, and we have to come up with a way to keep that energy in the show going and keep it focused on the contestants.”

 

There is no word from Fox on potential replacements for Simon Cowell, or if former Idol judge Paula Abdul would be joining The X Factor.

 

“I adore Paula,” said a confident Cowell. “Whatever happens, I will be working with her in some capacity because I miss her.”

 

In other news, the emphasis at Fox next season will be comedy development, the network is not about to abandon an aggressive programming slate on declining Friday, there is no official news on when, of if, recently yanked reality/competition Our Little Genius will return.

 

“This is something that happened at the producing level, a miscommunication in which information was potentially overlapping that could have seemed to compromise the sanctity of the show,” said Reilly. “Mark Burnett, to his credit, I think at a very early stage, looked at this and said, “This could open up a possibility of impropriety, so I’m going to shut it down now. Going forward, Mark has indicated he wants to re-produce Our Little Genius himself. We haven’t had a chance to really engage on that, so we’re going to cross that bridge next.”

 
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On the Fox Panel Front:
 
Human Target

Wednesday 8 p.m. effective on Jan. 27 (Previews Sunday, Jan. 17, 8 p.m.; second episode on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 9 p.m. ET)

 
-The Premise:

Based on the DC Comics property, a private detective and bodyguard named Christopher Chance (Mark Valley) operates by impersonating his clients in order to eliminate threats to his boss. Jackie Earle Haley and Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies) also star.

 

-Competition: Modern Family repeats and The Middle (ABC), The New Adventures of Old Christine and Gary Unmarried (CBS), Mercy (NBC) and repeats of One Tree Hill CW)

 
-Who Was on the Panel:

Mark Valley, Jackie Earle Haley, Chi McBride and executive producers Peter Johnson, Jonathan Steinberg and McG.

 
-The Scoop:

Chi McBride on the chances of Human Target succeeding:

 

“I have been in the business long enough to not really build in any preconceived notions as to what I think the level of success I’m going to have in a TV show. I just choose material that I gravitate toward, and I just trust my instincts with that. I do what really appeals to me. And, you know, my job is to do my job, and the critic’s job is to love it or hate it. The audience’s job is to either decide to watch us or not. And those are the things that are beyond my control.

 

So I think that beyond just choosing material that I gravitate toward, let the chips fall where they may.  I think that I’ve been able to choose some really quality projects no matter how long they’ve lasted, except for Killer Instinct. But, other than that, I’m really happy with the choices that I’ve made. I have high hopes for this show.”

  
-The Reality:

Despite the two higher profile time period previews, the Wednesday 8 p.m. anchor hour is one of the softest time periods in prime-time. And there is no reason to believe something unproven will perform all that significantly. Nothing is impossible, of course, but chances of Human Target breaking out are slim.

 

-Chance of Survival for Human Target (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1):

6-1
 
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Code 58 (working title)

Monday 9 p.m. effective on June 7 (Previews Wednesday, May 12 and Wednesday, May 19, 8 p.m. each)

 
-The Premise:

Described as an action comedy, a washed-up old school cop (The West Wing’s Bradley Whitford) teams up with an ambitious by-the-book detective (Colin Hanks). It’s “The odd Couple” of the crime solving world.

 

-Competition:
Considering it will be June, expect predominantly repeats.

 
-Who Was on the Panel:

Colin Hanks, Bradley Whitford, Diana Maria Riva, Jenny Wade and executive producers Matt Nix and Mikkel Bondesen.

 
-The Scoop:
Code 58 according to Matt Nix:

“It’s an action-comedy where we follow these two cops. So, in a sense, it’s a procedural as they investigate usually routine crimes. They both, each for their own reasons, have been sort of banished to the worst jobs in the department. And every week they investigate a crime that can range from the theft of a small residential burglary to reorganizing evidence to dealing with a stolen car. On a week-to-week basis, it’s about how that intersects with a much larger crime and how they end up sort of getting involved in something much bigger.”

   
-The Reality:

Outside of the traditional (September to May) TV season, viewers might be hungry for new scripted programming options, so I personally commend Fox for trying something new. But since you always have to be a bit wary of the quality when a network airs a new scripted drama in the summer, we will just have to wait and see. As much as I am an advocator for original scripted summer programming, I am also a skeptical New Yorker. Plus, Code 58 reminds me of a 2005 dramedy on Fox called Head Cases, which lasted a mere five weeks.

 
-Chance of Survival for Code 58 (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1):

5-1: Had Code 58 been facing original competition, it would have been more like 8-1.

 
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Sons of Tucson

Sunday 9:30 p.m. (no official start date yet)

 
-The Premise:

Three teenage brothers hire a seemingly nice, but misguided man to pretend to be their father after their real Dad is sent to prison for a white collar crime. 

 

-Competition:  

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC), The Amazing Race (CBS), Celebrity Apprentice (NBC)

 
-Who Was on the Panel:

Matthew Levy, Frank Dolce, Benjamin Stockham, Tyler Labine, creators Greg Bratman and Tommy Dewey, and executive producers Justin Berfield, Todd Holland and Matthew Carlson.

 
-The Scoop:

Justin Berfield The progression of actor to an executive producer:

 

“During Malcolm in the Middle  -- I think I was around 15 or 16 -- instead of running to my trailer after a scene I would stay on set. I would ask questions. I would hang out with the crew. I would hang out with the grips, you know, the guys doing all the work. I would ask questions, and I would look around. I would talk to the writers. I actually went to Linwood [Boomer] a few times with some treatments, ideas for some episodes. I’d submit it to him. He’d give me his notes. So it was actually really early in the process or early in Malcolm where I would start doing that. I was always thinking towards the future. So that was with it for me.”

  
-The Reality:

Fox, unfortunately, has not been all that successful in recent years with live action comedies. So, slating Sons of Tucson amid an animation block could be a bit clunky. Plus, current 9:30 p.m. occupant American Dad loses a lot of steam out of Family Guy. But Family Guy offers a great deal of lead-in support and this has the look and feel of a classic Fox sitcom like Malcolm in the Middle. Since Malcolm made an impact on Sunday, do not rule Sons of Tucson out. But keep your expectations low. There is no reason to believe retention will be greater than about 60 percent out of Family Guy.

 
-Chance of Survival for Sons of Tucson (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1):
6-1
 
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Past Life

Thursday 9 p.m. (2-hour series premiere on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m.)

 
-The Premise:

A psychologist with a specialty in reincarnation and past life regression therapy teams up with a cynical former NYPD detective to resolve people’s present day problems by exploring past life issues.  

 

-Competition:  

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), CSI (CBS), The Office and 30 Rock (NBC), Supernatural (CW)

 
-Who Was on the Panel:

Kelli Giddish, Nicholas Bishop, Richard Schiff (The West Wing), Ravi Patel and executive producers David Hudgins and Lou Pitt

 
-The Scoop:

David Hudgins on what exactly Past Life is:

 

“This is a mystery, and it’s procedural. And, essentially, you have a patient coming into this hospital in New York every week, and they’ve got trauma going on, and it’s related to something that happened in their past life. Our heroes, who are doctors and a detective, take the case on each week, and they figure out what happened to the person in the past that’s causing their problems in the present. When they are able to figure that out and solve the mystery of what happened, the patient is healed. So it’s a case each week.

 

Reincarnation is part of it. The past-life part of the show is this idea of what if you did live before. And what if you were having memories from your past life, and those memories were a crime scene that you could come in and uncover clues about and solve a mystery? And what sort of drives each episode is the solving of the mystery based on what happened in the past life.”

  
-The Reality:

Let’s be honest: this is one of the toughest hours in primetime. If recent proven occupant Fringe could not succeed here, the chances of survival for past Life are very slim.  This drama might have been more successful in a past life when the competition was less severe.

 

-Chance of Survival for Past Life (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1):

9-1
 
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TV Tidbits:

Notes of Interest from The Winter Press Tour

 

Fox has renewed critically acclaimed musical dramedy Glee for a second season, with an undetermined number of new episodes for the 2010-11 season. 

 
-Fox Confirms Start Date for Code 58:

Code 58, the new action-comedy from Burn Notice creator Matt Nix will preview on two evenings: Wednesday, May 12 and Wednesday, May 19, both nights at 8 p.m. ET. It premieres in its official time period on Monday, June 7 at 9 p.m. ET.

 
-Fox Episode Milestones:

America’s Most Wanted, hosted by crime advocate John Walsh, will celebrate its 1000th episode on Saturday, March 6 at 9 p.m. ET. Just recently, America’s Most Wanted was credited with capturing its 1099th criminal on the Jan. 3rd telecast. Animated Family Guy hits episode 150 on Sunday, May 2 at 9 p.m. And drama Bones, which attracts an audience no matter where Fox schedules it, will hit the 100 episode mark on Thursday, April 8 at 8 p.m. ET.

 
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On the Air Tonight:
Prime-Time Programming Options

 
Tuesday 1/12/10
 
ABC:
 8:00 p.m. Scrubs
 8:30 p.m. Better Off Ted
 9:00 p.m. Scrubs  
 9:30 p.m. Better Off Ted

10:00 p.m. The Forgotten

 
CBS:
 8:00 p.m. NCIS
 9:00 p.m. NCIS: Los Angeles

10:00 p.m. The Good Wife

           
NBC:
 8:00 p.m. The Biggest Loser (two hours)

10:00 p.m. The Jay Leno Show

 
Fox:

 8:00 p.m. American Idol (season premiere, two hours)

 
 CW:
 8:00 p.m. 90210 (R)
 9:00 p.m. Melrose Place (R)
 
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TV Trivia Time:

Small Screen Longevity

 

Which is the longest running live-action sitcom in the history of television?

 
The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet
All in the Family

The Beverly Hillbillies

Cheers
My Three Sons
 

The answer to yesterday’s question…

 

Which actor from the cast of Friends was never nominated for an Emmy Award on the series?

 
Jennifer Aniston
Courteney Cox
Lisa Kudrow
Matt LeBlanc
Matthew Perry
David Schwimmer
 

Is:  b) Courteney Cox. Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow snagged one Emmy each (Aniston for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Kudrow for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy), while Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer were all nominated. Poor Mrs. Arquette was left out in the cold.

 

-Current kudos goes to:
Michelle Yarborough-Bauer, Bert Benoliel, Gerry Bixenspan, Barbara Bloomfield, Brian Carney, Tom Condosta, Audrey Davis, Arleen Fong, Maureen Goldman, Bob Ingersoll, Deb Kainer, Synda Kollman, Mark Krause, Steve Kurtzer, Stephen LaRue, Cathleen Looze, Patty Lynch, Michelle Miller, Debbie Mirr, Greg Phelan, David Primuth, Joe Rubi, Greg Salerno, Ron Salmon, Maxine Schulman, Robyn Swart, Julie Syers, Stephanie Watson