Fox is putting American Idol on a diet, and that (indirectly) spells good news for the network’s Tuesday night lineup.
As expected (Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly in May told Adweek that he was considering just such a move), the one-hour American Idol results show is getting trimmed to a half-hour—at least for an eight-week stretch in the spring.
Leading out of the truncated Thursday night edition in the 8:30 p.m. time slot is the new comedy Surviving Jack. Starring Chris Meloni as a gruff suburban dad who takes little in the way of guff from his goofball teenage son, Jack will premiere toward the tail end of the season.
Chopping the results show in half is a not-inconsiderable sacrifice, as the one-hour version boasted one of the highest unit costs on TV. According to media buyers, a 30-second spot on Thursday night’s show went for approximately $275,000 in the upfront.
Idol previously has been used to launch the comedies Breaking In, The Loop and Life on a Stick.
Idol returns for its 13th season on Wednesday, Jan. 15 and Thursday, Jan. 16. Beginning the following Thursday, the one-hour results show will lead into the new Greg Kinnear legal drama, Rake. (Any similarities between Kinnear's compulsive gambler/womanizer and the Vicodin-gobbling bitter pill Dr. Gregory House are intentional; as Reilly said before the Fox upfront, the network is “still the home of the Great American Asshole Protagonist.”)
Fox is giving Rake the benefit of a huge lead-in, slating a special premiere immediately following its coverage of the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, Jan. 19.
With Surviving Jack plugging the Thursday night hole and the upcoming military comedy Enlisted set to bow Friday, Jan. 10 at 9:30 p.m., the Tuesday night comedy block is likely to remain intact. Fox last Friday gave a back-nine order to its freshman sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine and while the three-year-old New Girl isn’t going anywhere any time soon, the fate of the rest of the lineup had been somewhat more ambiguous.
Dads, the Seth MacFarlane live-action comedy that kicks off the two-hour chuckle stack at 8 p.m., is averaging just 3.82 million viewers and a 1.5 in the 18-49 demo. Bookend The Mindy Project is delivering the same rating as Dads, although its overall deliveries are smaller (2.99 million viewers).
With only Us & Them on deck to replace either series, it would appear that Dads will be granted a full-season order. While Fox has halted production on Us & Them, cutting its order to the extant six episodes, the network plans to air the Alexis Bledel-Jason Ritter comedy at an unspecified date in the spring.
UPDATE: Mere hours after annoucing the mid-season lineup, Fox gave Dads a back-nine order.
Earlier this week, Fox previewed Us & Them at the School of Visual Arts in New York. The venue alone is something of a rabbit’s foot in reverse: Fox also bowed its short-lived comedies Allan Gregory and Running Wilde at the SVU auditorium.
Also returning this winter is the hit thriller The Following, which will lead out of the season finale of Sleepy Hollow on Monday, Jan. 20.
In the hopper for late spring are Gang Related and 24: Live Another Day. While Fox has not set premiere dates for either series, Reilly announced that the newcomers would roll out sometime in May 2014. Wayward Pines, a limited series from M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) is expected to debut in July.
Fox’s full mid-season premiere schedule is as follows:
Friday, Jan. 10:
9:30-10:00 p.m. - Enlisted (Series Premiere)
Saturday, Jan. 11:
11:00 p.m.-midnight - ADHD, featuring Lucas Bros. Moving Co. and Golan the Insatiable
Wednesday, Jan. 15:
8:00-10:00 p.m. - American Idol (Season Premiere, Part One)
Thursday, Jan. 16:
8:00-10:00 p.m. - American Idol (Season Premiere, Part Two)
Sunday, Jan. 19:
6:00-10:00 p.m. EST - NFC Championship Game
10:00-11:00 p.m. EST - Rake (Series Premiere, Night One)
Monday, Jan. 20:
8:00-9:00 p.m. - Sleepy Hollow (Season Finale; Special Time)
9:00-10:00 p.m. - The Following (Season Premiere)
Thursday, Jan. 23:
8:00-9:00 p.m. - American Idol (Time Period Premiere)
9:00-10:00 p.m. - Rake (Series Premiere, Night Two / Time Period Premiere)