Fox is launching a new unit for development and production of alternative animated series, shorts and user-adapted material. It will be used for the network’s Saturday 11 PM-12:30 AM late-night block, once home of MadTV and the Spike Feresten and Wanda Sykes talk shows and currently airing reruns. The new late-night animated programming block, which will feature four new series per season, will launch in January 2013. Nick Weidenfeld, former head of program development at Adult Swim, has been tapped to run the unit, whose product will also be used for a new digital multi-platform network, which will be distributed online, on mobile apps, game consoles and video-on-demand. It kicks off in 2012 and will feature 50 original short-form pieces per year, online windows of Fox animated shows, and user-adapted content. The network has also tapped producer Hend Baghdady (Warren The Ape) as the executive in charge of production for the new division. “This may be the first time a network is building a clear bridge for talent to develop and grow ideas in the digital/alternative arena and organically move them into the mainstream,” Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said. “These new late-night series will be assets in their own right — but the clear possibility exists for a breakout digital success to graduate to primetime.” The Saturday late-night block will target similar demographic as Adult Swim. “We have no illusions about knocking out Saturday Night Live; it is an institution,” Reilly said after the TCA executive panel. “We’re just hoping to grab a big chunk of the young male audience.”
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