Fox Broadcasting is preparing for a new start in the TV industry. After the Disney deal to acquire 21st Century Fox closes in the next few months, the network will be spun off into a new company called Fox, alongside Fox News, Fox Sports and Fox Business Network.
The network will enter this next chapter of its existence with a new person at the helm: former AMC and SundanceTV chief Charlie Collier, who was named CEO of Fox Entertainment in October.
Collier talked about his plans for the new iteration of Fox, which the company is calling Fox Entertainment, today at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in L.A.
“We’re all eagerly awaiting our company’s new day one” when it is spun off, said Collier.
At that point, Fox Entertainment will be “an open canvas” and “a startup company,” said Collier, albeit one with “$26 billion in valuation.” He added, “I believe this next era at Fox will welcome another successful chapter to Fox’s 30-year legacy.”
Collier was introduced by Jonathan Banks, who plays Mike Ehrmantraut on AMC’s Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul and came on stage dressed up as The Masked Singer’s Hippo, a nod to Fox’s new hit unscripted series. “Let this be a cautionary tale about what you would do for a friend,” said Banks.
The new CEO came out to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” and explained that “crazy” has been a hallmark of both his work at AMC and what Fox has done as a network.
“Crazy is in the eye of the beholder,” said Collier, noting that it was “crazy” to say yes to the Breaking Bad pitch or for Fox to launch as a fourth broadcast network. And now, “some would say it’s crazy in the business environment to scale down when everybody else is scaling up,” as Fox is doing by essentially going it alone without its own production studio (20th Century Television is moving to Disney).
The new structure will allow Fox to be “more nimble or more able to match business with opportunity” compared to vertically-integrated competitors like Disney and Comcast, said Collier. The company now has the flexibility to “pair the right business model with the right project.”
That said, Fox Entertainment will have an in-house unit devoted to developing content. Collier said Fox has created a “content development accelerator” called Sidecar, run by former Fox chief Gail Berman. It will be focused on “identifying and incubating programming, first for Fox and then for third-party platforms,” he said.
That structure will give Fox Entertainment “capabilities without the overhead you saw before” with the Fox TV studio, he said.
During his executive session, Collier said that he had renewed The Simpsons for two more years, locking in it through Season 32 in 2021.
Collier’s tenure is off to a hot start with The Masked Singer, which was produced before he arrived but has become a midseason hit; he has already picked it up for a second season. “Fox has had a history of brave greenlights,” said Collier of the series, adding that it is “just fun” and ratings have grown as audiences are eager to determine which celebrities are behind the mask.
Asked about talent who could be wary to work with his company given its association with Fox News when the company is spun off, Collier said the news and entertainment divisions are run “completely separately” and that the network thrived creatively for years even with Fox News as a corporate sibling.
Collier will have less room on his schedule for entertainment programming this fall, between Thursday Night Football, the arrival of WWE Smackdown (which will air on Fridays, 52 weeks a year) and college football. But “we’re going to play in every genre, and we’re going to do it very well,” he said.
That also means that hits Last Man Standing and The Cool Kids, which currently air on Fridays, will have to find a new home on the schedule, but Collier said nothing has been decided yet.