Liguori Downplays Fox Controversies

Jan 20, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Fox Entertainment President Peter Liguori dismissed questions about some of the network’s latest controversies, including “Idol” host Paula Abdul’s recent bizarre behavior and charges that “24” vilifies Muslims.

Mr. Liguori, speaking at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour, was asked about Ms. Abdul, “24,” an aborted OJ Simpson television special and whether “Idol” judges had become too mean.

The executive’s presentation comes after a week of ratings successes for Fox, which scored ratings wins with mid-season premieres of “American Idol” and “24.” Fox relies on the shows to lift it from last place in the ratings and to promote other programs that the network needs to bolster its audiences year-round.

Starting with Ms. Abdul, Mr. Liguori said the “Idol” judge was merely tired and experiencing audio problems during recent affiliate interviews, where she slurred her words and appeared to fall asleep.

“Paula has been doing this for 20 years really successfully, with our show she gives 100 percent,” Mr. Liguori said. “We’re pleased what Paula does for ‘American Idol.'”

Regarding whether “Idol” judge Simon Cowell had been too rude to contestants this season, Mr. Liguori said the criticisms are part of the culture of the show.

“[Mr. Cowell’s comments are] part of what makes ‘American Idol,’ the show has been on for six years,” Mr. Liguori said. “The judges have been critical for six years … the judges know what makes the show ticks.”

Mr. Liguori, citing pending litigation, refused to answer any questions about the network’s special on OJ Simpson, who was slated to talk about the murders of his ex-wife and her friend and how he would have comitted the killings — had he been involved.

As for questions about whether “24” portrays Muslims unfairly, after the panel Mr. Liguori listed the various ethnicities of “24” villains over the course of the show’s six seasons, and reminded critics that not every character who starts out a villain remains a villain over the course of the show.

Fox also formally announced its spring premiere dates, including a two-hour “24” special.

As previously reported, “The Wedding Bells” will premiere March 7 after “American Idol” and “‘Til Death” will move to Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. starting March 14. Fox also announced that its new comedy “The Winner” will debut with two episodes on Sunday, March 14, and “The War at Home” will move to Sundays at 7:30 p.m.

Fox has also scheduled another two-hour “24” event Monday, Feb. 12, featuring Chad Lowe and Powers Boothe as guest stars.

For more coverage of the Fox session and TCA, see the Critical Eye Press Tour blog at http://blogs.tvweek.com/?cat=12

(Editor: Baumann)