EXCLUSIVE: Consumer product giant Procter & Gamble is expanding its initiative for funding family friendly 2-hour movies/backdoor pilots and buying primetime real estate to air them to a second network. After teaming with Walmart for 3 such movies on NBC, P&G has now bought time on Fox for its next family film, which the company may use as a backdoor pilot for a future series on an unspecified network. Titled Dear Annie, it centers on a relationship counselor and an old friend of hers, a recent widower, who pretend to be married to curry favors from a media mogul. Dear Annie is now casting, with production slated to begin at the beginning of January in New Mexico. It is not clear where on Fox Dear Annie will air. The NBC time buys – Secrets of the Mountain, which aired in April, The Jensen Project, which aired in July, and A Walk in My Shoes, which airs this Friday – have been running in the Friday 8 PM slot. The rationale behind the initiative has puzzled some observers as the movies/backdoor pilots under it have been pretty low-budget and cheesy, and they air on a low-trafficked night. Also, none so far has spawned a series. But Secrets of the Mountain, which aired in-season, actually did respectable business, winning its Friday night with 7.8 million viewers and a 1.3/5 in 18-49. (Jensen, which aired in the summer, did far worse, 3.9 million, 0.9). It is also noteworthy that P&G is targeting Fox, traditionally considered the edgiest among the broadcast networks with shows like Family Guy. But newer series such as American Idol and Glee have opened up the net to family audiences.
TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.