Fox’s Fringe (0.9/3) was rusty in its return from hiatus, down 25% from its winter finale a month ago. It was hindered by a weak lead-in, Kitchen Nightmares (1.0/4), which was inexplicably low for an original, tied with NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? at 8 PM. Fringe also faced atypical competition, CBS’ NCAA basketball coverage, which is expected to win the night. Or maybe Fringe fans didn’t get the memo that their show was back or were out helping make Hunger Games a rare March blockbuster. Fringe‘s time slot rival, the CW’s Supernatural (0.6/2) also hit a low, while Nikita (0.5/2) was up a tenth. ABC’s Shark Tank (1.5/5) was down 12%, but both of the network’s newsmagazines were up, leading ABC to a five-week Friday high in 18-49.
With Fox‘s Fringe once again facing cancellation, the show’s stars Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Blair Brown and Seth Gabel and executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman are rallying fans of the sci-fi drama today with a session at WonderCon. Talks between the network and Fringe producer Warner Bros TV are ongoing. I hear the two sides are hopeful about clinching a shorter, possibly 13-episode pickup if the license fee and thus the budget could be reduced to reflect the show’s soft ratings. Here is a fun video of Walter-isms, things Noble’s character says on the show, which just premiered at the WonderCon panel. Fringe returns from hiatus this coming Friday to air the remaining episodes of Season 4.
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 …
On the heels of getting a three-episode back order this week, CBS’ freshman drama A Gifted Man (1.3/4 in adults 18-49, 8.2 million viewers) posted a ratings uptick of a tenth of a point in 18-49. Since premiering with a 1.4, the medical/supernatural drama had been stuck at a 1.2, only once logging a 1.3 in the fast nationals that was adjusted down to a 1.2 in the finals. It looks like the 1.3 demo rating may stick this time, which would mark the show’s second highest 18-49 result to date. CSI:NY (1.6/5, 9.9 million) was down a tenth in the demo from last week, while Blue Bloods (2.0/6, 12.2 million) continued its wild ratings swings from the past couple of weeks. It was up 18% from last week’s 18-49 result. That follows a 24% jump in the demo 2 weeks ago and 19% decline last week. Blue Bloods once again was the top program of the night in both 18-49 and total viewers and led CBS (1.6/5, 10.1 million) to a nightly win in both categories.
Encouraging news for new NBC drama Grimm, which is awaiting word on a back episodic order after receiving a pickup for 3 additional scripts this week. After 2 weeks of declines, the fairytale procedural posted a 1.6/5 in 18-49 last night. That was up a tenth from the series’ fast national last week when …
NBC has already had its share of bad luck (and bad ratings) this fall. Now there may be more on the way. MLB’s decision to postpone tonight’s Game 6 of the World Series to tomorrow night because of bad weather means that if the series goes to a seventh game, it will likely air on Friday — against the series premiere of Grimm and the final-season premiere of Chuck on NBC. NBC already pushed the shows’ debut by a week to create a Halloween-themed block on Thursday and Friday this week, so another delay seems unlikely. As for Fox, it had already cleared both Wednesday and Thursday night for baseball, so it will air Glee repeats tonight. If a seventh game is needed, the network will preempt the originals of Kitchen Nightmares and Fringe, currently slated for Friday.
TCA: Fox’s Kevin Reilly Talks About Future Of ‘House’ & ‘Breaking In ‘ & ‘Glee’ Spat; Calls ‘Touch’ Pilot ‘Extraordinary’
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.
This year’s Emmy race for Outstanding Drama Series will continue cable’s dominance in this most prestigious category. Cable claimed 10 of the 13 nomination spots over the past two years, and 13 of 19 since 2008. By contrast, cable earned a mere nine nods combined in the seven years between 2001 and 2007 when the networks still ruled. The shift from broadcast is so extreme in 2011 that CBS’ The Good Wife is considered the only network series with a solid shot to earn its second nomination in as many years. (Though not in that league, NBC/DirecTV’s Friday Night Lights, NBC’s Parenthood, and CBS’ Blue Bloods deserve consideration while ABC has entered a rebuilding phase.) The sad reality is that the broadcast networks, which just signed a new eight-year deal with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to carry the Emmys, are facing a possible first-ever shutout from the top drama series category. That’s because of the continuing strength and ambition of programming on cable — in particular, HBO in a return to form, and AMC still on a roll.
HBO’s Prohibition-era hourlong Boardwalk Empire drew the most critical attention this Emmy season because of its pedigreed producer team, headed by the legendary Martin Scorsese and creator/showrunner Terence Winter, a Sopranos alum. How interesting that the pay channel’s expensive serial will compete against another period drama from that other Sopranos alum Matt Weiner. AMC’s first acclaimed original series, Mad Men, has won this category three years running and is bidding this year to be the first series to win four in a row since NBC’s The West Wing (2000- 2003). Though the frontrunner, Mad Men could be hurt by a long hiatus.
AMC has seized the mantle from HBO as TV’s preeminent quality-drama purveyor with a pair of newcomers that could crack the series field this year: the zombie-themed hour The Walking Dead, and the dark murder mystery The Killing. Even though two-time category nominee Breaking Bad is not eligible for 2011, AMC could still land three nods, becoming the first network in 10 years to do so in this category, after NBC scored the hat trick in 2001 with The West Wing, ER, and Law & Order. No cable network has ever managed the feat to date.
And then there’s Showtime, whose Dexter is in the running for its fourth consecutive Outstanding Drama nomination, along with first-season Shameless. FX is pushing its increasingly buzzed-about Western, Justified and, to a lesser extent, Sons Of Anarchy. TNT wants attention for The Closer, Men Of A Certain Age, and Southland. USA is pressing Covert Affairs and White Collar. Here’s our assessment of the chances for this year’s drama series in alphabetical order:
Former Lost co-executive producer David Fury is joining the upcoming season of Fox’s Fringe as writer/consulting producer, reuniting with Lost creator/executive producer J.J. Abrams, who executive produces Fringe. In addition to his work on the first season of Lost, Fury is also known for his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel. He most recently served as writing executive producer on the pilot for Fox’s Terra Nova until his departure in September over creative differences.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros TV just re-upped Monica Breen and Alison Schapker for a 7-figure deal to keep co-executive producing Fringe for Season 4 under Bad Robot’s banner. And the pair with long ties to J.J. Abrams (they also worked on his TV dramas Lost and Alias) will develop another TV series for his banner. But it’s what they’re doing in the movie arena for J.J. and Bad Robot that interests me. At a time when female writing teams are scarce, and even more so in the sci-fi genre, I’ve learned they’ve been hired to do a rewrite on one of J.J.’s top-secret projects at Paramount. With a working title of Zanbato, the script involves Japanese history and robotics: “swashbuckling robots with swords” is how one insider describes it to me. (That’s the project which Francis Lawrence is no longer attached to direct.) The female writing team will continue to develop original material with J.J. and Bad Robot. Their “heightened reality” crime drama Pulp was written under their deal last year, and now it may turn into a graphic novel or potential comic book series for Warner’s DC Comics. Hard to believe that Breen and Schapker were once showrunners for ABC’s relationship melodrama Brothers and Sisters.