Oh yeah, Fox execs talk about Conan and Our Little Genius, too - TCA Report
by Joel Keller, posted Jan 11th 2010 6:22PM
Before and after the FOX execs so dramatically brought Simon Cowell on stage to sign the contract bringing his British show The X Factor to the US, effectively ending his time on American idol, there were other heady matters to discuss. Just small stuff, like the possibility of Conan O'Brien bailing on NBC and joining FOX, and the mini-scandal surrounding the game show Our Little Genius.
On Conan, there really wasn't much to say. "We're in sort of the wowee mode right now," said entertainment president Kevin Reilly. After reiterating what he's said in the past on always being in search of a good five-night-per-week late night program, he went on to say that "I love Conan personally & professionally. Until he makes his decision (on whether to leave NBC), there's no conversation to be had."
But since he knows Conan's people, it's not like he hasn't been talking, at least informally. He classified them as being more in the "commiserating phase;" knowing Reilly's history with NBC (Jeff Zucker fired him three years ago), I could understand the commiseration.
On to the controversy over the game show Our Little Genius, which got yanked by FOX before its premiere next week because of some possible cross-ups in how the young contestants were informed of the question topics. According to Reilly, producer Mark Burnett caught this inconsistency himself. "Information was overlapping that could have compromised the show. Mark Burnett was the one who caught it and asked us to pull it proactively" in order to avoid any sense that the show is rigged.
Burnett will produce replacement episodes himself (i.e. the costs are coming out of his own pocket), and the hole behind Idol that was left by Genius' removal will be plugged by a replay of the Human Target pilot.
Back on the Idol front, when entertainment chairman Peter Rice was asked about how they'd think of the judges going forward, Rice replied that they're not going to try to find "a Simon clone," and they really like the chemistry between the judges this year (even Randy Jackson, who was specifically asked about as far as changes are concerned).
One of the shows that presented earlier today, Code 58 (complete with Bradley Whitford rocking a Magnum / Ron Swanson 'stache for his role) is the network's way to tell people that their summer season won't be full of So You Think You Can Dance and a bunch of cast-off shows. They still need to work on their Friday nights, given the not-unexpected failure of Dollhouse. "Friday night was not our finest night," he said. "We have work to go there. Back to the drawing board on Friday."
Finally, Reilly admitted that Fox, despite its success everywhere else, is problematic in one area. "Our live-action comedy development was anemic." He says that will be their number one concentration. Meanwhile, he let reporters in the oversize scrum know that Seth MacFarlane is developing yet another animated comedy for them. Go figure.