That was the main news that came from the Fox executive session at the Television Critics Association press tour, which consisted of entertainment president Kevin Reilly fielding questions from the media for about 45 minutes.
Though Reilly said he didn't want to give the recent 'Glee' controversy any more exposure by talking about it, he was asked about it repeatedly. There were certainly many questions about how 'Glee' executive producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk handled the crisis. (A brief refresher: Murphy said in an interview that three actors were leaving the show, some of the actors said they found out about that via Twitter, then Falchuk and Murphy said no one was leaving the show but essentially blamed the media for everything that went wrong). But Reilly refused to critique the producers' handling of the story in recent weeks.
And the guy who gets credit for that and now a new three-year extension is entertainment chief Kevin Reilly. Here's an executive who was dumped by NBC -- great move, Jeff Zucker -- and has done really well at Fox. It's not only 'Glee,' but that's the most flashy, current ratings and pop culture hit.
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.
It's FOX day at the TCAs, and we've been greeted by a press release announcing that Glee, halfway through its first season, has been renewed for a second season.
"The show is a true and rare gem in television," said FOX entertainment president Kevin Reilly in the release. "We couldn't be more proud of what Ryan Murphy and the Glee team have created so far, and can't wait to see what they come up with for season two."
Can't say this is much of a surprise, given the show's popularity as well as it's off-network marketing potential. Mall tours, concert tours, World Series appearances... all of this is shaping up to make the show the feel-good hit of the 2010s, doesn't it?
Well, now Conan O'Brien has reportedly been given an option to jump to Fox. If you believe TMZ.com, NBC has told Conan he has the option of leaving and joining another network. The Peacock, if you believe it, has dropped the contractual ties that would restrict O'Brien from going to the competition. Hmm... why would they do that unless they don't like what Conan's done with The Tonight Show and want to expedite his exit?
It sounds like FOX boss Kevin Reilly has seen the moneymaking potential of his cast of moppets for a while, telling EW back in July, "Certainly if these kids become stars in their own right, who knows? Live appearances. Albums. There's lots of things that could happen." Can't you just picture him sitting in a tall chair in a richly paneled office somewhere, steepling his fingers and saying, "excellent," a la Mr. Burns?
If you heard Grammer speak about it during the panel for his new ABC comedy Hank, it's not hard to connect the dots. "I had an event they thought was stress related. You can make of that what you will. It was a rough year," said Grammer, whose FOX sitcom Back to You was cancelled after its first season.
His beef was that he pitched the show to Reilly when the exec was still at NBC, and he passed. Then Reilly got the position at FOX after they bought Back to You. So, basically, the show was airing on a network whose entertainment head already passed on it somewhere else. That, according to Grammer, caused conflict between the network and the writers of the show.
- When Reilly was asked about the "Save Dollhouse" campaigns out there, he joked, "you mean the campaign that started before we starting making episodes?" He cited the solid cumulative numbers the show put up (which included DVR numbers) as to why it was brought back, and the fact that "the fans were there every week. We were there with Joss, and he delivered." While Whedon "wasn't having a lot of fun" in the first half of the season because of the struggles he and the network had to focus on what the vision of the show would be, in the "second half of year he found his voice on the show and had a lot of fun," according to Reilly.
- On Futurama and the option the show has to do a first run on the network level: The show will "do its run on Comedy Central first and we'll see what happens. If we see a renaissance of that show, sure. It's not out of the question." But right now, there are no talks to air it on Fox.
According to Rice, Paula Abdul was the only member of Idol whose contract was up. They were talking to her about it for months, and they very much wanted her to return. In past few weeks, "negotiations came to conclusion, as Rice put it. "We made a fair offer with a substantial raise. Paula decided not to return. It was not our choice. We wanted her to return to the show."
They are most likely looking to keep the number of judges at four, but Rice feels they have between now and January's live shows to find a judge. "We're looking to bring different element and energy to the season." There will be guest judges during the audition process, including Victoria Beckham and Katy Perry. Rice and Reilly wouldn't announce who else, but they said that these would be mostly female singers, artists, and performers.
More from the exec session coming up.
Starting tonight, everyone's favorite group of misanthropes from the City of Brotherly Love are back to invoke mayhem and generally make the lives of everyone around them miserable. And I can't wait.
Yes, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is back for its fourth season on FX, and they're going to be around awhile, as the network picked them up for 39 additional episodes after this season's run of 13 are over. In addition, series creators Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton and Rob McElhenney will be working on a comedy for FOX called Boldly Going Nowhere, which is described as "Star Trek meets The Office." Imagine that: these guys are building an empire, all on episodes like this season's opener, where Mac and Dennis hunt down Cricket and Charlie and Dee become cannibals. You'll just have to watch it to get what I'm talking about.
I talked with Day, Howerton, and McElhenney about the upcoming season, the popularity of "Day Man / Night Man," their new show, and how co-star (and Rob's fiancee) Kaitlin Olson broke her back. Interview is after the jump.
Considering the pitiful pros passing as live action comedy on Fox these days -- Til Death, Back to You, Unhitched -- you might think this contest was an act of desperation. It's not.
In the interview, Reilly mentions that Sarah Connor and Back to You are the "lead candidates" for returning for a new season, adding that they've "already started staffing" the show.
We already mentioned the high likelihood that the show would be returning before; several times, even. Is it because of Fox's track record with canceling shows, seemingly so quickly, that's got everyone so nervous about Sarah Connor's return? At this point, after hearing all of the rumors and mumblings that the show's safe, it would be extremely cruel for them to bring the axe down during the upfronts next month. Die hard fans are probably already planning a backup plan, thinking of what kind of crap they're going to send Fox studios to beg for the show to return. Any suggestions?
Production of one of the more highly anticipated shows on the NBC schedule, Heroes: Origins, has been put on hold. Apparently, due to fears of a pending writers' strike. Or, maybe not.
According to The Hollywood Reporter the Heroes spin-off will not be receiving its six-episode run, which was to begin in April of 2008. While NBC hasn't officially said that the series is canceled producers have not been given a date when it would be put on the schedule. During the network upfronts held last May it was mentioned that Origins would be spelling its older sibling during a late-season hiatus.
Deal or No Deal is moving to Friday night at 8, providing a nice lead in for critically acclaimed Friday Night Lights and Las Vegas, which has Tom Selleck joining its cast.
Isaiah Washington is going to join The Bionic Woman. He'll be in five of the first eight shows.
Reilly is reuniting with former co-worker, Peter Liguori, who has been promoted to entertainment chairman at Fox. The two teamed up when they worked at FX and brought edgy shows such as The Shield and Nip/Tuck to that network. Fox evidently wants some of that mojo.
Reilly's first challenge is to get people to watch some of Fox's new shows, none of which he chose. I'm hoping he'll give a little love to Unhitched, the Farrelly brothers comedy that is by far the best thing Fox has going for it in the fall.