Fox at TCA: ‘Prison Break’ News, Comedy Pilots Coming

Jan 13, 2009  •  Post A Comment

“Prison Break” will wrap up its four-season run on Fox, the network confirmed Tuesday.
In addition, the network will try to launch its next animated series this spring, setting Sunday, April 19, as the premiere date for “Sit Down, Shut Up.” Fox also plans to redevelop the failed comedy pilot “Boldly Going Nowhere,” from the creators of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
Check out all of TVWeek’s TCA coverage here.
And despite the ailing economy, Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said there will not be “mass layoffs” at the network.
As for “Prison,” the series will return to Fox’s lineup Friday, April 17, at 8 p.m. for the last of its episodes. Its finale will air sometime in April.
“It’s had a hell of a run, but it’s come to the end of its run,” Mr. Reilly told reporters gathered Tuesday for the semiannual TV Critics Association press tour.
At least four episodes will air in the spring, with Fox talking to producers about adding on a few more. Mr. Reilly said he knows how the producers want to end the show, and “it’s a hell of an idea.”
Originally intended as a one-season experiment, Fox has stretched “Prison Break” far beyond its original conceit. Now, Mr. Reilly said the network wants to quit while it’s ahead.
“The show’s just played out,” he said. “We want to finish strong and not just gimp out next season.”
On the matter of how the recession is impacting Fox, Mr. Reilly said the network is well-positioned to survive the tough times.
“One of the things I love about Fox is this company is committed to not making mass layoffs,” he said. “There are none scheduled right now. We’ve stayed lean. We’re pretty well prepared for this. We’re going to manage it behind the scenes.”
As for “Sit Down,” the series will air Sundays at 8:30 p.m. following “The Simpsons.” The show comes from “Arrested Development” executive producer Mitch Hurwitz, “Two and a Half Men” producers Eric and Kim Tannenbaum and “The Simpsons” producer Josh Weinstein.
On other matters:
—Mr. Reilly said Fox will greenlight up to five half-hour comedy pilots “within the next week.” That would put the network in front of other networks, which typically don’t attack comedy orders until closer to spring.
“We’re doubling down on our commitment to comedy,” he said.
Fox will make around a half-dozen drama pilots as well, he added.
—Critically loathed game show “The Moment of Truth” remains on the shelf for now. The network has 24 episodes in the can and will use them either this summer or when it has a hole in its schedule.
“Fortunately we have other options … other things we wanted to put on immediately,” Mr. Reilly said. He quickly added that he didn’t “mean that pejoratively.”
—Mr. Reilly said he’s happy with the performance of fall drama “Fringe.” “We know it’s a keeper,” he said.
The executive later said the network is pleased with its “remote-free TV” experiment with limited commercials in “Fringe” and the upcoming “Dollhouse.”
“Advertisers who paid the premium were very happy. Recall was up,” he said, adding that viewer response has been “unbelievable.”
That said, “Not everyone wants to pay the premium,” meaning there’s no guarantee the concept will return next season. Still, Mr. Reilly said the network remains committed to trying to play around with the standard commercial loads on shows.
—Mr. Reilly took a mild swipe at NBC. While he gave his former employer credit for finding a way to keep Jay Leno in the fold, he questioned the move’s impact on NBC’s scripted development
“For the network that was the premier brand for scripted television, that’s a bit of a sad statement,” he said of NBC’s decision to essentially limit itself to one hour of scripted fare most nights.
(10:45 a.m.: Updated throughout)

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