Fox Chariman of Entertainment Kevin Reilly spoke with the Television Critics Association after panels for “The Following” and “American Idol,” giving some of his shows top spots on the network’s Winter Press Tour Day. During the panel, he revealed that the 25th anniversary reboot of “In Living Color” is dead.
“‘In Living Color’ is done,” Reilly said. “That’s not going to happen unfortunately. It just didn’t come together for various reasons. The original set the bar so high, it didn’t seem like it was going to reinvent the next chapter. I’m not giving up all hope we can reboot that. The particular one we shot wasn’t it.”
After the panel, reporters spoke with Reilly further about other upcoming Fox series, including a limited run event produced and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. “He is going to direct and executive produce,” said Reilly. “I got this as a spec script. He’s pitched a number of things to us. This event series franchise that we’ve announced that we’re going to get into production, we’re not calling them miniseries because miniseries got a negative connotation. It’s kind of thought of as fodder and cut rate fare."
If anything, we’re going to try to emulate the HBO model which is high end, talent, big in scope, epic productions which probably will have movie stars and top notch talent, people who want to do television but are not going to sign up for five years," continued Reilly. "This came in, I was thrilled, it was a spec script based on an Amazon best seller. The script was excellent. IT’s the closest thing to ‘Twin Peaks’ I’ve ever seen. If I made a list of directors, he’d be the first one I’d go to and the beauty was he was attached.”
“Wayward Pines,” based on the Blake Crouch book Pines, could have a longer life, if not a full series order. “Most of these will have a beginning, middle and end," noted Reilly. "We also announced ‘The Civil War.’ Obviously there is an end to that one. So they may be 8, 10, 12 parts and out but there could be some, ‘Wayward Pines’ if it worked there could potentially be a sequel.”
The air dates for the Shyamalan events are still in flux. “Summer’s one place we’re going to look to do it to try to create a real appointment on the scripted side, but I want to try to schedule them opportunistically.”
Fox announced the renewal of “Bones” for a ninth season via a press release, and Reilly indicated he’d consider a 10th too. “We’re going to take that one and see where we go. It’s been a great run. I think it can keep going, frankly.”
The state of “The Cleveland Show” may depend on the success of other Animation Domination shows, Reilly said. “We’ve got a season of episodes in the can and we’ve got to then figure out whether we’re going to keep going or not. We have a finite amount of real estate, we’ve got to make some choices. ‘Bob’s Burgers’ has been doing very well. We just bought another one called ‘Murder Police’ which is really funny, so we’ve got to figure that out.”
In a moment of self-deprecating humility, Reilly also mocked his own fall slate. “We stumbled out of the gate on ‘Mob Doctor,’ which by the way was the worst title in the history of the world.”
A more compelling title is “Axe Cop.” “That has a cult following online," said Reilly. "A five-year-old came up with that. Literally, a five-year-old created that show. That’s one of the things that’s funny about it.”
During the panel, Reilly also explained why we haven’t seen “Goodwin Games,” from “How I Met Your Mother” creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas yet. Reilly is focusing on giving the current Tuesday night comedies - “New Girl, Mindy Project, Ben and Kate” and “Raising Hope” - a chance to succeed. “What’s happening with our Tuesday night, I believe good work pays off. We haven’t been able to deliver the ratings, so if I thought ‘Goodwin Games’ was going to be an injection of life to the block, I’d bring it on earlier. ‘Goodwin Games’ is a good show, but we have to hold off because it’s going to upset that block. The short answer is, we’re going to maintain consistency with the shows we have in that block. ‘Goodwin Games’ will come in later this year, perhaps in the summer.”
Reilly also fielded a number of questions about the network’s responsibility for portraying violence in its serial killer drama “The Following.” Reilly was sensitive about it and attempted to move the discussion to the quality of the show itself, particularly regarding the violence on competing shows.
“I don’t really want to get into show by show comparison, but this show adheres to our broadcast standards," contended Reilly. "We haven’t pushed broadcast standards. I think the show is intense because of the psychological nature of it and the characters. I think there have been more violent shows or television. Nobody noticed or cared because they were insignificant bad shows."
"This is a good show and significant so your’e invested in it and it feels more intense than it is," added Reilly. "If you put it through the filter of broadcast standards, there’s nothing on that show we’ve had to fight over. I didn’t call standards and say, ‘Buckle up, we’re pushing boundaries.’ It is my goal to put the Fox back in Fox. Before there was cable, Fox was cable. We were the edge of what was bold. I still want to be there. We’ve been there in recent history with shows like ‘House’ and ‘24’ and this show fits into that realm. We’re not just competing with ‘Criminal Minds.’ I’m competing with cable and the top drama last year was ‘Walking Dead.’ That doesn’t mean every show we put on should start chasing the standards. Our standards on this are much more conservative than ‘Walking Dead’ or basic cable comparisons. But we have to match the intensity, otherwise we’ll be a pale comparison.”
Also, “The Following” is just one show on the entire network. “When you’re doing a thriller, you must compete on that level .We put thousands of hours in sports and entertainment. We put on a broad array of things. In that array of product, a thriller, a police story, good guy vs. bad guy is an age old thing that precedes the existence of television.”
Sci-fi fans have had a rocky relationship with Fox and they have to say goodbye to “Fringe” this year. Fans may be happy to know that Reilly is aware of his network’s reputation and has an open mind to more genre series.
“Fox has never left the genre business. We’ve had some bad fall starts and broken some hearts. It was great to see one through and finish it for the fans, but we’ve never left that business. We set the standard many years ago with ‘The X Files.’ ‘The Walking Dead’ is an extraordinary thing. I bought the script at NBC from Frank Darabont and loved it. It was an early draft and when I left and I heard it went over to AMC there was a lot of serendipity involved. It’s a great show.”
CraveOnline is at TCA this week getting more interviews with the cast and creators of “The Following,” “New Girl” and other Fox shows.