Today at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, FOX became the second big network to address its current status. Network president Kevin Reilly spent most of his time on stage addressing the future of FOX’s staple shows like House and Glee. He also made sure to feed critics with status updates on newbie Terra Nova and cult-hit Fringe. While NBC’s Greenblatt made it his mission to address head-on the ratings woes at his panel, Deadline reports that FOX’s Reilly barely had time to discuss his network’s 14 percent year-to-year ratings increase because so many of his shows are on the bubble. Let’s dive in.
Reilly on House: “It’s hard to imagine the network without House. This is not going to be the pink slip goes out and this is the end of House. We haven’t had the big meeting [with the producers] about what we want to do. It is no secret that it will be a close call, we said in May that it would probably be the show’s last year, but we just haven’t made the decision. Should it be the last season, this is not going to be an unceremonious finish, I can tell you that…It will absolutely have a satisfying conclusion on FOX. There’s no way [series creator] David Shore isn’t going to let fans feel it wasn’t properly capped off.” Though there was a period when Reilly and Shore discussed a potential House spinoff, Reilly confirms “that time has come and gone.”
On Glee: Reilly confirms that there will not be a Glee spinoff following Rachel and Kurt to New York City. In a nutshell he explained, “We’re graduating the characters that are arcing toward graduation. What’s come out of it is [series co-creator] Ryan Murphy has come up with a really cool idea. There will not be a Glee spinoff. But those characters will graduate and that’s led to a really interesting idea that I think will give us something to dig into next season, and it [starts with] the spring batch of episodes. That’s all I can say about it now.” He added that Lea Michele is definitely back next season (should Glee be renewed and it will), but he wouldn’t confirm the return of Chris Colfer and some other actors. “What I said before is creatively, we’d want everybody back,” he explained. “I’ve got to look at the contractual situation for all of those. And we will…I’m just trying to whet your appetite. But I think [what’s planned] is going to be a good thing for the show…It’s cool. It’s different.”
On Terra Nova: “It was an exciting bet to take, and it’s proven it was worthwhile. It is the second highest-rated new drama, one of the highest-rated new shows of the season. It has a distinct audience [and they] enjoyed it; they had amble opportunity to reject it and they didn’t. There’s a show there to bring back, there’s an audience to access. There were a lot of chefs in the kitchen. The show was hunting for itself creatively through the season. Creatively it was hunting. I loved some of the episodes. If this is all we make [of Terra Nova], we made money on it, the studio made money on it, and it seems to have resonated with the family audience. If we had more holes in our network, we’d be thrilled to lock that right in.” He admitted that “we won’t be able to drag our feet for much longer because it does need to get back into production in the next month” if it’s granted season 2 renewal.
On Fringe: You take the good and take the bad. First, the good: “Fringe has been a point of pride for me, I share the fans’ passion for the show. I love the fact that with it FOX put genre back on the network. I’m grateful to the fans who followed the show to Fridays, and with Fringe there, we have a real Friday night for the first time.” And now, the bad: “We lose a lot of money on the show. At that rating on that night it’s almost impossible for us to make money. We are not in the business of losing money, so we’re trying to figure out if there is a number at which we can continue with the series. He added, “I do not want to drop the ball on the end and let the fans down. Please don’t start the letter writing campaign now. I can’t take it. We haven’t even sat down with the producers and the studio yet. I hope we get some credit with the fans for seeing through a great show.”
Series co-creator J.J. Abrams even through in his two cents on the matter. “For some sick reason I’m hopeful,” Abrams said. “There’s some stuff coming up this season that’s so great. Maybe it’s dumb optimism that the good work [of the Fringe showrunners] will be rewarded. “And if not on FOX, maybe somewhere else,” he teased. Executive producer Jeff Pinkner addressed fans of the show as well. “Worst case scenario, if this were the last aired season of Fringe — and as we’ve said before, there are other outlets where we could continue our stories, be they graphic novels or webisodes — we know what the end of this season is going to be, and it can function as a series finale.” He matter-of-factly shared that even last season’s finale could have rightfully served as a proper series finale. “Had Peter, the lynchpin for the reason the show existed, been the one to sacrifice himself heroically to save the two universes and the woman he loved, it would have been a very authentic end.” And it seems like things will go the same way this time around, too. Reilly says that Pinkner and fellow exec producer J.H. Wyman will not know if the show is coming back as they come up with the season 4 finale. The episode will be written before FOX and Warner Bros. talk about a potential renewal. But if there’s anything we’ve learned from the Fringe creators thus far, it is that we can trust them.
Reilly wrapped up the panel by touching on failed animated series Allen Gregory, the fate of Ryan Seacrest on American Idol, and changes to The X Factor. On Allen Gregory: “We will not be making more Allen Gregory. Our goal was to keep as many as possible of our the legacy shows intact but continue to take shots with the next-generation (animated) shows. It turned out Allen Gregory wasn’t one of them.” On a related note, Reilly sees Bob’s Burgers joining FOX’s next generation of animated shows. On Ryan Seacrest: “As we know it is a much harder job than meets the eye. I think everyone has come to realize the value of Ryan Seacrest. It’s very hard to imagine American Idol without Ryan. We certainly want to keep him.” Seacrest’s contract is up after this upcoming season of American Idol and the network is working hard to land a new deal with him. On The X Factor, Reilly teases that “there will be some changes” and one of them might be replacing host Steve Jones with someone new. Says Reilly, “Whether Steve is the guy or not, it comes under the heading of growth in general.”
All in all, many of FOX’s shows are up in the air concerning their renewal status. With Alcatraz, Touch, The Finder, and Napoleon Dynamite still waiting to be thrown into the midseason schedule, Reilly has many things to take into consideration before making final decisions to bring back the aging House, the potential hit Terra Nova, and the genre darling Fringe.
[Via Deadline; EW 1, 2; TVLine 1, 2]