TCA Day 7: Fox Unveils 2011-12 Plans (Updated)

Fox opened its TCA day with a number of announcements. The network has picked up sitcom freshman sitcom Raising Hope for a second season, with an unspecified number of new episodes for 2011-12. “I’m happy that the show is getting another year,” said series creator Greg Garcia. “But the fact that I’ve been trying to think of a funny quote for the last two hours and this is the best I could come up with makes me a little nervous about season two,” he joked.
Fox has also announced the debut date for epic family adventure series Terra Nova, which follows a typical family on an incredible journey back in time to prehistoric Earth. It opens with a two-night series preview on Monday, May 23 and Tuesday, May 24 at 9 p.m. Similar to Glee last season, which also previewed in late May, Terra Nova will return next fall for its regularly scheduled series run.

 Fox, in addition, will preview the upcoming untitled sketch comedy from Jamie Foxx on Thursday, March 31 at 9 p.m. out of American Idol. (It then returns in its regular time period on Thursday, June 9 at 9 p.m.) And dancer and choreographer Mary Murphy will return to perennial reality/competition So You Think You Can Dance this summer in place of the departed Mia Michaels.
“Her expertise in dance, coupled with her warmth, compassion and humor, make her an excellent judge and fun to work with,” said Nigel Lythgoe, So You Think You Can Dance co-creator, executive producer and judge.
In the Fox executive session, the subject of moving American Idol was addressed by Peter Rice, chairman of entertainment, Fox Networks Group; and Kevin Reilly, president, entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company. “We started looking at Thursday and felt there was an opportunity there,” said Reilly. “We didn’t want to reconstitute the schedule. Once Glee successfully created a beachhead over on Tuesday and we’re one-half hour away from a cohesive night there, we didn’t see a need to throw the cards up in the air. And we actually thought there was maybe even a little more competition. I expect The Big Bang Theory on CBS to do what it’s doing, and I think they’re two distinct shows. I don’t think it’s going to be a zero-sum game there.”
Regarding the arrival of The X-Factor next fall versus American Idol:
“The X-Factor has Simon Cowell, and I think they are going to run at different times of the year,” said Rice. “It may appear the same in form, but when you actually see it and experience it, you’ll see how different it is.”
Fringe, which is moving to Fridays at 9 p.m. (out of Kitchen Nightmares) has some of the critics concerned about its future.
“Fringe put us in business on Thursday night,” noted Reilly. “We are looking to go a little bit broader with the rating. I want everyone of those audience members to transfer to Friday. You already get about 50 percent of the audience watching it on DVR, as it is, on Thursday. I’d really hope those fans would stick with it, even if it means that DVR usage goes up a little bit more on Friday. It’s a fantastic show, and honestly, I’d be heartbroken if it went away.”
In other news at Fox, the network has six un-aired episodes of canceled Lone Star it is deciding what to do with; and recent entries Running Wilde and The Good Guys are officially canceled.
“As a schedule to build upon, there’s always been a lot of reshuffling of the deck,” said Reilly.  “This may, with a little bit of luck, be the most stable schedule we’ve had, and it gives a lot of focus to our drama and comedy needs. Reestablishing our comedy credibility and getting comedy viewers back in the network again was our top priority. I think we are on our way. The development is starting to come in, in a very good way. Another show or two into that mix, and we are right there.”
Given Fox is down by double-digit percentages year-to-year, the network in fourth quarter was not necessarily stable. And unless American Idol—which in the past has ignited Fox—packs them in for the upcoming retooled 10th season, the network will have significant rebuilding to do.

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