Fox Sets Post-‘Idol’ Launch, Fall Run for ‘Glee’

Mar 4, 2009  •  Post A Comment

Fox is giving its one-hour musical comedy “Glee” a post-”American Idol” premiere, but it will hold back the show’s regular airings until the fall.
In what the network is calling a broadcast first, the Ryan Murphy-created series will air its initial episode on Tuesday, May 19, at 9 p.m., immediately following the final performance episode of “American Idol.”

But rather than continue airing “Glee” throughout the summer, Fox plans to hold back the remaining dozen episodes of the 20th Century Fox TV-produced show until the fall. That means there will be at least three months between the broadcast of the show’s first and second episodes.
While Fox has not confirmed any airdates for “Glee” until now, network executives had been strongly considering a post-“Idol” run for the show ever since Mr. Murphy pitched the concept for the program to them last summer. With elements of music and youth, the show had always seemed a natural fit with “Idol,” and virtually all press reports regarding the show’s order included a mention that Fox hoped to pair the show with “Idol.”
Buzz regarding a post-“Idol” run grew even stronger as production of the series got under way. Fox officials were bowled over by episode one of the show, and a January screening of the pilot to critics generated strong positive reaction.
One executive from a rival studio even went out of his way to rave about “Glee” to TelevisionWeek, calling the pilot “amazing.”
As a result of the advance praise, most industry insiders assumed Fox would bench new drama “Lie to Me” to make room for “Glee.” But “Lie to Me” has worked out very well on Wednesdays, while “Fringe” and the combination of “Bones” and “Hell’s Kitchen” are cooking on Tuesdays and Thursdays, respectively.
In the end, Fox simply ran out of space for “Glee” this season, people familiar with the network’s decision-making said.
That said, the network didn’t want to pass on the chance to use “Idol” as promotional muscle to hype “Glee.” Executives decided to roll the dice and try the split-season strategy.
“An ambitious and unique show such as ‘Glee’ deserves an ambitious and unique kick-off,” said Peter Liguori, chairman of the Fox Broadcasting Co. “We also wanted to take advantage of the huge ‘American Idol’ promotional platform to launch the marketing campaign in May.”
Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said the post-“Idol” launch will “jump-start the positive buzz, which will spread over the summer and into the show’s launch in the fall.”
Indeed, after giving viewers a little taste of “Glee” in May, the network will be able to use the summer months to generate even more interest for the project. Fox’s summer smash “So You Think You Can Dance,” for example, provides a perfect promotional home for “Glee.”
And while no decisions have been made, there’s nothing (except, perhaps, music clearance issues) to prevent Fox from releasing a version of the “Glee” pilot on DVD over the summer—maybe with bonus scenes—as a way of marketing the show.
As for simply launching the show and airing it in the summer, Fox executives likely decided that the economics of such a move didn’t make sense. While networks all talk hopefully about the idea of first-run scripted fare in the off-season, that concept only makes sense when a show is produced at a lower cost point.
“Glee” is produced by Ryan Murphy Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television. Mr. Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Dante Di Loreto serve as executive producers, while Ian Brennan and John Kousakis serve as co-executive producers.

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