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Fox Preserves ‘Idol,’ Nurtures Comedy

Jul 14, 2008  •  Post A Comment

There will be some changes to “American Idol” next season—but Simon, Randy and Paula aren’t going anywhere.
That’s the word from Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly, who told reporters Monday that judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul will all be back come January. There had been media buzz—none of it particularly substantiated—that Fox might consider making some changes to the judging panel on America’s most-watched show.
That said, Mr. Reilly isn’t ruling out other subtle tweaks to “Idol.”
“You’ll see some fine tuning,” Mr. Reilly said during a huddle with reporters following his formal question and answer session at the summer TV Critics Association press tour.
During the Q&A, Mr. Reilly announced that Fox will hold pilot screenings in December this year, in addition to its usual May pilot previews. He said the network has at least eight projects in the works that could be ready for viewing in the days before the Christmas holiday.
Mr. Reilly also confirmed a report in Advertising Age that Fox will shift its May upfront from its usual Thursday perch to Mondays starting next year. He said the decision was a function of the calendar: Upfront week will take place days before Memorial Day in 2009, and Fox didn’t want ad buyers “checking out” mentally just days before the long holiday weekend.
In other news, Mr. Reilly said he expects new comedy “Sit Down, Shut Up” to resume production as early as today, with executive producer Mitch Hurwitz still on staff. The show had been shut down after its writers boycotted the show over labor issues. The show is being produced under the auspices of IATSE rather than the Writers Guild of America.
Mr. Reilly wouldn’t get specific but he did say he expects a couple of writers to leave the show but that some new writers would be joining.
The executive also said Fox is aggressively looking to spice up its comedy brand, which Mr. Reilly said has been “a little anemic” in recent years. “We’re ready for our next ‘Malcolm in the Middle,’” he said.
Mr. Reilly said writers and executives have gotten “skittish” about developing comedy. “A lot of confidence has left the creative space,” he said.
One way Fox hopes to jump-start the process is by allowing writers to pitch comedies wherever they feel most comfortable—their offices, a restaurant, the beach. Most network pitches are done in corporate offices.
The network is also planning to give writers a small amount of money to shoot video pitches for projects.
(Editor: Baumann)
For exclusive video, breaking news and blogs from the TCA summer tour, visit TVWeek.com’s TCA Navigator page.

7 Comments

  1. Those IATSE writers better not have friends at the guild or they’ll figure out their being cheated.
    And what of them not getting the standing of their network colleagues at Family Guy and The Simpsons?
    It is bound to cause strife.

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