Fox Television Group Chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman teased rumored event series for “The X-Files,” “Prison Break” and more “24” — with or without Kiefer Sutherland — while also reflecting on their network’s recent reality struggles during their Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour executive session.
One of the main topics of conversation on Saturday surrounded the day-earlier’s ousting of Simon Andreae and appointment of Corie Henson as executive vice president of Alternative Entertainment. Andreae’s most public miss was on the big budgeted “Utopia,” which bombed in fall 2014.
“It was a big swing, an attempt to do something different, to try to have a game-changer — it didn’t work out, it wasn’t for a lack of effort,” Newman said of the show. “There was a lack of urgency without any scheduled eliminations or contests, but it was an admirable effort.”
Going forward, the network wants to do a little bit more of the middle-of-the-road, family friendly fare in the unscripted market, Walden admitted, using “MasterChef Junior” and “American Idol” as tonal examples.
And speaking of “Idol,” the two also acknowledged reported meetings with Simon Cowell, saying they would “love” to be back in business with him.
Still, “We’re looking for a balanced slate of development,” Walden insisted.
So beyond unscripted, the duo told reporters that they are in talks with the two “Bones” stars, whose contracts –David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel — and are hopeful for another season out of that long-running series. Walden and Newman are waiting a little longer to make decisions on “Sleepy Hollow,” but are in conversations there too.
On the latter, which has had a measurable and critical fall-off from Season 1, Walden admitted that the drama “got a little over-serialized this season.”
Back to the event series, which was the buzziest of the morning conversation at the Langham Huntington Hotel: More “24” is a real possibility, the two bosses said. While Newman clarified that there are no current plans, the execs are in ongoing discussions with the creative team behind the Jack Bauer thriller. That said, another installment could definitely occur without the man behind Bauer, Sutherland, Walden told journalists in an on-stage scrum after the panel’s conclusion.
“We have discussed it with him,” Walden said of the show’s star. “Potentially, he won’t be in this installment, we’re not sure yet. We’re not that far along but I know he supports us doing more 24. We’re not talking about continuing the show without him; we’re talking about whether there’s one installment that he’s not in.”
“[The pitch] was in the very origin stages and it could have gone either way,” she continued. “There was a point at which Jack Bauer could come in and fit very organically into their story or they were prepared to do something that would be the one installment without him.”
Either way, “We would love nothing more than to do another ’24,'” Newman admitted during their allotted timeslot.
Plus, there’s a possibility “The X Files” returns as an event, though the executives were not prepared to make any announcements yet. A little bit more of a long shot is the rumored return of “Prison Break” in a limited run, which Walden and Newman said they would do in a second.