Nellie Andreeva

Fox Launches Animation Unit To Supply Saturday Late-Night Block & Digital Network

With so many Fox series in limbo for next season, the network’s entertainment president Kevin Reilly spent the entire TCA executive session fielding questions about the future of veteran medical drama House, low-rated sci-fi drama Fringe, freshman Terra Nova and musical dramedy Glee, leaving virtually no time for him to brag about the Fox ratings gains this past fall. (He still found a way to mention the network’s 14% year-to-year ratings increase in one of his answers.)

In a nutshell, no decision has been made on House, Terra Nova or Fringe. Things don’t look good for Fringe, though it, along with House, will get satisfying finales if this proves to be the end of the road for them. Glee meanwhile looks very good to return though the plan for a spinoff has been scrapped. And, oh yeah, low-rated freshman animated comedy Allen Gregory has been officially canceled. Here are the details from Reilly, who also addressed the future of American Idol host Ryan Seacrest:

On Glee: “There will be no spinoff. The characters (who are seniors) will be graduating. (Co-creator) Ryan Murphy and the guys have come up with a really cool idea… that I think is going to really give us something cool to dig into next season. … It would be a cool season next year.” Despite the enthusiastic thumbs-up, Reilly declined to confirm that Glee is definitely coming back for a fourth season, saying that those discussions have not been held. Of the cast, he confirmed that star Lea Michele will come back.

On 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. … It will absolutely have a satisfying conclusion on Fox.” As for the possibility of a House spinoff, ideas have been floated in the past but “that time has come and gone,” Reilly said.

On Terra Nova: “If the show hadn’t worked, I still wouldn’t be apologizing (for picking up Terra Nova). It is proving that it was worthwhile; it is the second highest-rated new drama, one of the highest-rated new shows of the season. It has distinct audience, though the perception kind of got away from us. 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. There is a show, which if we are to bring back, there’s an audience there. But creatively, the show was hunting (for its identity), and we are trying to figure out … is that the best show (we can make). If we had more holes in our network, we’d be thrilled to lock that right in.” While not ready to commit right away because of the logistical demands of the CGI-heavy drama, “we won’t be able to drag our feet for much longer,” Reilly said.

On Fringe: 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.” Then came 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 a number at which we can continue with the series. We haven’t even sat down with the producers yet.”

On Allen Gregory: “We will not be making more Allen Gregory,” Reilly said. “We tried it.” He said the decision to pick up the show was made while the future of The Simpsons was in limbo because of the difficult cast re-negotiations and the deal with Seth MacFarlane for a Flintstones reboot had not been made yet. “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.” But Reilly noted that he has high expectations for sophomore Bob’s Burgers, which he said will likely go to the next level and be part of Fox’s next generation of animated hits.

On Ryan Seacrest, whose deal for American Idol is up after this season: “As we know it is a much harder job than meets the eye. I thnk 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.”

On how long The Simpsons can go: “We have 3 1/2 more seasons in the can. From there, I just have no idea.”

On benching Glee and New Girl three weeks after their premieres to accommodate baseball and two weeks of The X Factor, which resulted in steep ratings drops: “No apologies or excuses, it was the dynamics of the schedule.”

TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.