Fox Unveils Year-Round Schedule

NEW YORK In an unprecedented scheduling move designed to program on a year-round basis, Fox will introduce a three-tiered initiative beginning with the five new series that it has already announced will start in June.

Part two of the schedule, which runs from November 2004 to January 2005, will feature four new series. Effective in January 2005, and slated through June of that year, another six series will kick off, bringing Fox’s 12-month total of new programming to an aggressive 15 series.

Drama The Jury, the first show to premiere, will launch on Tuesday, June 8, followed by drama North Shore and reality hour The Casino on Monday, June 14. Comedies Quintuplets and Method & Red, plus returning The Simple Life 2: Road Trip will premiere on Wednesday, June 16.

Reality will be featured heavily in the November 2004 to January 2005 rotation, with new hours The Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best, The Next Great Champ and The Partner all rolling out. New drama The House will also premiere.

Part three of the rotation, January to June 2005, will feature new dramas Athens, The Inside and Johnny Zero, and new comedies Related by Family, Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show and American Dad.

In returning series news, The O.C., which opens season two in November, will move to Thursday at 8 p.m. opposite NBC sitcoms Joey and Will & Grace, and CBS’ Survivor. Three-year-old 24, which moves to Monday at 9 p.m. out of new drama Athens, will not return until January, while the half-hour voting edition of American Idol, which also returns in January, will move from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday into the relocated Bernie Mac Show.

Veteran Malcolm in the Middle, which lost a considerable amount of steam this season, will shift to the Sunday 7:30 p.m. half-hour in November, followed by a move to Sunday at 8:30 p.m. in January. The two returning shows, Tru Calling and Arrested Development, will also be relocated: Tru Calling moves to Thursday at 9 p.m. out of The O.C., and Arrested Development moves to an earlier slot on Sunday (8:30 p.m.) in November. It will shift to 9 p.m. Sunday in January.

As aggressive as Fox’s lineup is, the obvious question to ask is, what happens if any of these early rollouts fails to make an impact? Will Fox be patient and give each new series a chance to find an audience, or will the usual quick trigger finger kick in?