Reilly Upped to Entertainment Chairman at Fox

Programming boss gains oversight of scheduling, marketing, biz affairs

On the eve of a new TV season, Fox Broadcasting programming chief Kevin Reilly has been elevated to chairman of entertainment.

Effective immediately, Reilly will assume oversight of all programming for Fox, adding the alternative/reality division to his scripted palette. The five-year Fox vet also will steer digital, scheduling, marketing, research and business affairs. 

Reilly’s promotion comes a month after Peter Rice was named chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although it is believed that Reilly has signed on through at least 2015.

“Kevin is a uniquely gifted executive with the strong strategic vision and creative instincts to ensure that Fox continues to drive the future of our industry,” Rice said, by way of announcing the move. “We are incredibly fortunate to have him here and thrilled he will be with us for many more years.”

Reilly previously served as the network’s entertainment president. He joined Fox in 2007, rebounding swiftly from his ouster at NBC. (Letting Reilly go and replacing him with the callow Reveille founder Ben Silverman turned out to be one of former NBCUniversal chief Jeff Zucker’s more myopic moves.)

Under Reilly, Fox has maintained bragging rights in the all-important ratings race, claiming the adults 18-to-49 demo in each of the last five seasons. Per Nielsen, Fox closed out the 2011-12 campaign with an average 3.2 rating in the demo, edging CBS by two-tenths of a point.

Reilly notched one of his biggest hits with last season’s freshman comedy New Girl. With an average 4.2 rating in the demo, the Zooey Deschanel vehicle was the No. 2 new TV series on the dial, trailing only CBS’ 2 Broke Girls (4.4).

The success of New Girl encouraged Fox to double down on live-action comedy, a genre that has played second fiddle to the network’s animated roster (The Simpsons, Family Guy, et al). On Oct. 2, Fox will take the wraps off a two-hour, live-action comedy block featuring returning series Raising Hope and New Girl, and newcomers Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project.

Created by and starring The Office alum Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Project was snapped up by Reilly shortly after NBC passed on the pilot in January.

Also on deck for Fox is The Following, a pitch-black psychological thriller starring Kevin Bacon that shares some genetic material with the series that perhaps best defines Reilly’s early days as a programmer. Before joining NBC in May 2004, Reilly served as the entertainment president of FX, where he helped establish ad-supported cable as a destination for original fare with uncompromising dramas like The Shield and Nip/Tuck.

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