Upfront: Fox Launches 2 Fall Shows
But like almost all networks, Fox was somewhat affected by the writers' strike. So it will only be launching two shows this fall, the highly touted drama "Fringe" and comedy "Do Not Disturb."
"Fringe" from J.J. Abrams, is part science-fiction/procedural-crime drama. It starts when an international flight lands at Boston's Logan Airport and the passengers and crew have all died grisly deaths. "Fringe" will have one of Fox's best lead-ins, "House," which moves to 8 p.m. from 9 p.m. on Tuesdays.
On the comedy end, "Do Not Disturb" is a workplace comedy set at one of New York City's hippest hotels: The Inn. The show stars Jerry O'Connell of "Crossing Jordan," and will be paired on Fridays with "Til Death" running at 9:30 p.m. Gone from Fox's comedy ranks was last season's new show, the Kelsey Grammer/Patricia Heaton effort, "Back To You."
Although there are only two shows for the fall, Kevin Reilly, president of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting, says: "We are going to be focused on the fall." For one, Fox will put heavy promotion on "Fringe" this summer.
Given the writers' strike, Fox decided to take its time with its program development--and will roll out more new shows in the mid-season, when the network typically gets stronger with the season debuts of "American Idol" and "24."
"It didn't make sense for us," said Reilly, "rushing shows on the schedules. We got what we needed."
Fox trumpeted its supremacy among many viewer groups--the fourth year in a row as the best network among 18-49 viewers, the fifth year in a row as the leader among 18-34, and, for the time, taking the crown from CBS, as the leader among total viewers.
Fox also touts that it was the only network to grow its 18-49 ratings this year--up 8%--and that its margin of victory was 40% above other network, the largest percentage ever.
As has been done in years past, Fox is doing its premieres early, with "Fringe" launching in late August. This time around, however, it will run right into the week of the Democratic National Convention. But Peter Liguori, chairman of Fox Entertainment, isn't worried. There are only selective moments in the conventions when viewing spikes, which might affect Fox's new shows and new season debuts. One of those nights is Thursday, August 28, which will confirm the Democratic presidential nominee. Fox will not be debuting any shows on that night.
For mid-season, Fox will have "Dollhouse" from Joss Whedon, creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and "Firefly," another sci-fi drama, starring Eliza Dushku, who is a member of a highly illegal group who have had their personalities wiped clean so they can take on new personas.
There is also reality show "Secret Millionaire," a dramatic unscripted series that takes wealthy individuals and places them undercover in America's poorer neighborhoods.
A "Family Guy" animated spinoff, "The Cleveland Show," focuses on "Family Guy" character Cleveland Brown. who moves to Stoolbend, Va., to make good on a promise to his high-school sweetheart.
Another animated series spinoff "Sit Down, Shut Up," from Mitchell Hurwitz of "Arrested Development," centers on eight narcissistic staff members at a high school in a small Northeastern fishing town who put their egos, needs and personal agendas ahead of the kids. Says Reilly: "We are looking for good noisy shows."