Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly gave an insight-filled presentation Tuesday at the Television Critics Association press tour, admitting that the network “screwed up” with its low-rated fall lineup, Deadline.com reports.
Other topics included friction between Fox and NBC, the need for the broadcast networks to raise their game to compete with cable, and in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, the role of violence on TV.
Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva writes: “At Sunday’s TCA NBC topper Bob Greenblatt took a snipe at Reilly over a November comment Reilly’d made that a lot of TV executives ‘have our heads up our asses,’ which was actually in reference to the nets’ adapting [to] consumer behavior. ‘That may be true at the other places but I can guarantee you we don’t have our heads up our asses,’ Greenblatt quipped. Reilly was more subtle today when asked about NBC’s September decision to pit an original ‘Voice’ against the season premiere of ‘The X Factor.’ ‘It was slightly on the cheesy side,’ Reilly said of the NBC move. ‘It went in the file for later reference,’ Reilly added, indicating that the score will be evened in the future.”
After a critic apologized for screwing up a question, Reilly quipped: “We all screw up — look at my fall,” a reference to the network’s dismal ratings performance this past season. He added: “Here at Fox we are leaping into the new year — no one is happier than us to turn the page.”
“A large portion of the Q&A session was focused on the potential link between violence on TV and the recent string of mass shootings,” Andreeva writes, “especially in light of the network’s upcoming launch of the very dark new serial killer drama ‘The Following.’”
Said Reilly: “I think in general there have been more violent shows on TV. Clearly there is appetite — people like these things.”
Reilly noted the prevalence of violent content on cable, citing the need to compete with successful shows such as AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Said Reilly: “When you put on a thriller you have to compete at that level. … We must match the intensity, otherwise we’ll pale in comparison.”
Andreeva notes: “That is especially important for Fox, which has the tradition of being the edgiest among the broadcasters.”
“Before there was cable, Fox was cable,” Reilly said. “It is a goal for me to get some of the (old) Fox back in Fox.”
Regarding the new series “The Following,” Reilly said: “This show adheres to broadcast standards.”
“While he stressed that Fox takes its responsibilities as broadcaster very seriously and is open to an industry-wide discussion about violent content, Reilly didn’t have concerns over putting the thriller on the air,” Andreeva notes. Said Reilly: “Everyone is looking for a scapegoat, or wanting to put a finger on one thing that’s the problem. We are just in an age of complex issues. It’s no one simple thing.”