Reality Leaves Us Wanting, Fox Places Big Funny Bets

For the last several days during the upfront meetings, it's been a question on everyone's lips and will be buzzed again today as Fox becomes the last network to deliver its upfront presentation: What happened to all the reality shows?

Apart from "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart" - an obvious spin-off attention grabber and "Three Wishes" - a kind of feel-good effort in the vein of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" there aren't many high-concept, long-lasting reality shows on next year's fall slate.

And now king of reality over the last several years, Fox has planned a cackle of 12 comedies and not one single new reality show.

Fox, the noted hit-and-run network of reality TV, won't be having any run-ins this fall with other networks who said Fox was aggressive in stealing their reality show ideas. Remember last year's battle to launch "The Next Great Champ" versus NBC's "The Contender? Or Fox's "Trading Spouses" versus ABC's "Wife Swap."



New Fox Entertainment President Peter Liguori must have set the programming executives straight on something viewers have known since last September when "Desperate Housewives" became an instant hit -- new reality shows are having a tough time succeeding.

The tried and true remain - "Survivor," "American Idol," and "The Apprentice," along with other notables such as "America's Next Top Model." Be thankful shows such as "Extreme Makeover: Hangnail Edition," or "Trading Coughdrops" or "America's Next Top Mensch" won't be coming around.

You have to hand it to Fox. It's as if the network is pounding its fist at the upfront programming table in a bold attempt to lead the way. Attempting 12 new comedies is its way of saying to the rest of the networks, "We feel the next great alternative to reality will be the return of the sitcom. We are staking our programming lives on it. We dare you to follow."

It seems, in poker's terms, Fox is all in - and that ain't all bad.

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