Nellie Andreeva

Not that there was ever any doubt that Tim Kring’s Fox pilot Touch starring Kiefer Sutherland would get on the air, but the network wanted to reserve final judgement until after it sees the finished pilot. Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly told reporters at TCA today that he saw the pilot last night and it was “extraordinary”, firmly sealing the project’s midseason series pickup. “It’s a new character but it does have some dose of Jack Bauer in it,” Reilly said about Sutherland’s new role.

While Touch will be joining Fox’s schedule this season, veteran medical drama House might exit it. “I can’t confirm that this is the last season of House,” Reilly said during the Q&A session, adding that a decision on that will be made in “late fall.” The contract of star Hugh Laurie is up after the end of this season, and creator/executive producer David Shore had indicated that he signed a new deal for the upcoming eighth season because he wanted to give the show a proper ending. Reilly alluded to that, noting that the original creative team of the show “that has kept the quality strong” has remained intact and “they want to go out strong, not limp on for several more seasons as a vestige of itself.” Reilly also hinted that there is a scenario where House end its run on Fox this seaosn but producer Universal Media Studios tried to continue it on another network.

There is also no decision on the future of Fox’s other veteran drama, Bones, but Reilly sounded far more upbeat about its future. As for cult favorite, Fringe, “I don’t expect Fringe to grow, but if it does exactly what it did last year, we will be very, very happy,” Reilly said. The fate of another fan favorite, comedy Breaking In, remains up in the air after the network canceled the series starring Christian Slater after a short midseason run but then shouldered the cost of extending the options on the cast with studio Sony TV. Today, Reilly said that Breaking In will be a contender for Fox’s 2-hour midseason comedy block along with series Raising Hope, I Hate My Teenage Daughter and New Girl and pilots Little In Common and Family Album. “We will revisit what makes that 2-hour block later in the fall and make a decision (on Breaking In)”, Reilly said.

Meanwhile, despite soft ratings this season, Reilly said he expects So You Think You Can Dance to “be part of our summer profile going forward.”

On the expected return of American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez, Reilly only said that the network is “well into negotiations” with the singer on what he described as a “complex deal.”

Reilly also was asked to comment on the recent Glee controversy over the fate of stars Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer.  “I think it has taken on a little more heat and momentum than it in fact is,” Reilly said. He confirmed that Rachel, Finn and Kurt will graduate at the end of the season and that there was a  idea for a spinoff with them, which co-creator Ryan Murphy discussed with the network as well as with the actors. But ultimately, ”we collectively decided to revisit the idea in the back half of the season when it should be visited,” he said. “We wanted to concentrate on this coming season.” He called the upcoming Season 3 of Glee more “focused” and “back to basics” and said that the first batch of episodes won’t feature “any big guest star-driven episodes or tributes. We’re focusing on our core characters and their relationships.” As for speculation about strained relations between Glee co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, whose public comments about the future of then 3 actors seemed at odds, “those guys get along very well,” Reilly said. “Brad is the most even-keeled, mild-mannered guy in the world. And Ryan is who he is. And that’s why we love him. He is a creative force.”

Commenting on Fox’s decision to pick up the 13-part docu series Cosmos, a followup to Carl Sagan’s 1980s classic with Seth MacFarlane as executive producer, Reilly said he relishes the potential impact the series could have on the younger generation piquing their curiosity about science. Also, “there is something about the (Cosmos) brand that is enduring,” he said, adding that the series, which “won’t air on Thursday”, may spawn a feature.

Overall, Reilly feels very bullish about the upcoming season. “I do think Fox will have success in every genre next season,” he said.

TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.