Fox’s Gary Newman: Killing Pilot Season ‘Never Made Sense to Me’

TCA 2016: “I think the idea of pilot season being dead was ridiculous,” co-CEO tells TheWrap

Last Updated: August 8, 2016 @ 4:12 PM

Pilot season is very much alive at Fox.

That was co-CEO/chairman Gary Newman’s message to TheWrap Monday when asked about former Fox entertainment chief Kevin Reilly’s bold 2014 claim that pilot season is a relic. Reilly told TV critics in 2014 that Fox would know longer follow broadcast TV’s traditional calendar, and made his point with an illustration of tombstones that said “R.I.P. Fox ‘Pilot Season’ 1986-2013.”

But Newman said that idea “never made sense to me.”

“I think the idea of pilot season being dead was … ridiculous,” he told TheWrap.

The traditional pilot season involves networks ordering pilot scripts through the fall and early winter, deciding which ones to shoot, and then screening them in a flurry to announce in May which ones will become series in the fall and midseason. The schedule forces much of the talent pool in Hollywood to scramble — and compete — in a condensed timeline, but Reilly said it no longer made sense in a world with hundreds of cable networks in addition to ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and the CW.

Newman, who runs Fox with Dana Walden, agreed with Reilly that Fox should develop shows year-round. That’s just the new reality of making television.

“Pilots are incredibly valuable to us,” Newman said. “I think an adherence to ‘You can only do pilots during pilot season’ needed to go away — and it certainly has for us. We’re doing pilots around the calendar and we’re picking shows when things come in. We’re not having to wait until May so we can screen everything at once.”

He added that the network doesn’t “want to greenlight things because it’s January — we want to greenlight things because [they’re] ready.”

Check back soon for more from our interview with Newman.