Fox’s exec session at the TV Critics Assn. press was so dominated by Paula Abdul questions, some interesting comments by Fox Entertainment chief Kevin Reilly got a bit lost in the shuffle.
Reilly, who’s truly found his groove as a network chief at Fox, sounded off on a variety of topics, including Jay Leno, Fox’s ambitious new hour "Glee" and why Fox could be headed for another strong fall. What follows are some extended excerpts from Reilly’s comments to reporters:
On the network’s overall health:
I’m really excited about what we’re going to be doing in the fall. We’ve got a young schedule: Three new shows, three sophomore shows, probably younger than we’ve had in quite some time, but I think you’re going to see us having more stability than we’ve had over some years. Certainly with three hours of "(So You Think You Can) Dance," which has, again, been rock-solid over the summer with an unbelievably loya lfan base. That’s going to mirror the schedule we have in the second half of the season…. We’ve got some good things happening.
On how baseball fits into Fox’s lineup:
It’s very manageable now. It does interrupt he shows a little, but it does not set a bomb off in the schedule.
On the "Glee" pre-premiere strategy of airing the show’s pilot in May:
It’s been sampled by 25 million people between TV, the online site, and Hulu, which has been unbelievably strong. We’re going to repeat it again. We’ve heard the chatter and the talk continues to get more and more positive.
We were at Comic-Con last week, which was a stretch for this show. We were nervous nobodywas going to show up. It wasn’t even in the main venue. There were thousands of people out the door, and it was like The Beatles were there.
There’s something happening with the show. With that said, we’re both very confident there is a core audience for this show that is going to be there and it will be successful. How much the upside is — I don’t think we’re looking for this to be necessarily the biggest phenomenon of the fall. It is a little bit of an offbeat show, but we’d certainly love to have it in that square success category.
We know it’s a creative success because we’ve now seen the work. So all in all, we like that strategy. It worked very well.
On the status of Joss Whedon’s "Dollhouse"
Joss was pretty open, I think, about those hiccups, but I think, in the second half of the year, he really found the show. He started having a lot of fun with it. I don’t think he was having a lot of fun with it early on. He was pulling his hair out, but he was fantastic to work with all the way through. And the fact that he found that, it’s going to be much smoother sailing this year.
On measuring Jay Leno’s impact:
It’s not about the rating. Jay is going to have success. He’s a competitor. He’s got a fan base. That show is going to do some business. And on certain nights he’s not up against very tough competition.
The holistic view is, as we know historically, the show has always tapered off in the ratings at the second half of the show. Even if he does a rating in the first half, does that natural tapering occur? What does that do to the news hour? What does that do to the news lead-ins? I think that’s going to be a real issue.
You look at the overall ratings impact. They’re going to struggle at 8:00. I see no show there, other than "Biggest Loser," that’s going to get things going. Struggle at 8:00, not a lot of powerhouses at 9:00, modest ratings at 10:00– I think you’ve got to look at the whole picture.