EXCLUSIVE: Execs at the home of Sleepy Hollow, Glee and The Mindy Project had a message today for showrunners and agents: Diversity is the new ka-ching. “Not only are you going to have more chances of a show being made here, more chances of a show being a success on TV, more chances of making it into syndication, more chances of a show selling globally and making you millions of dollars, but you are going to bring more viewers to our air and keep us in business,” Fox Broadcasting COO Joe Earley told a group of the company’s brass, as well as agents, producers, and media coalitions. Usual good intentions aside, that good-for-business mantra was the primary thrust of the third annual invite-only confab, called “Seizing Opportunities” this year.
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And the Zanuck Theater on the Fox lot certainly had a lot of people who do business with each other on hand Thursday. Earley co-hosted the event with Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly; Fox TV’s Dana Walden and Gary Newman; Fox Animation’s Vanessa Morrison; FX’s John Landgraf, Eric Schrier and Nick Grad; Fox TV Distributions’ Mark Kaner; and Fox Searchlight’s Nancy Utley. Unlike past Fox diversity conferences, the agencies were represented for the first time too, with WME’s Rick Rosen, UTA’s Jay Sures and CAA’s Joe Cohen as co-hosts as well. ICM’s Pete Stone, Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons, Mindy Project EP Jack Burditt, 3Arts partner and former 30 Rock EP David Miner and Gang Related EPs Chris Morgan and Scott Rosenbaum also were among the 150-plus attendees for the 90-minute session. Don’t Trust The B—- creator Nahnatchka Khan was there on a Walden-fronted panel with her producing partner Melvin Mar and restaurateur Eddie Huang, whose memoir Fresh Off The Boat is the basis of a 20th TV comedy project the trio are behind and ABC has given a put pilot commitment to. From the non-industry world, reps from the National Hispanic Media Coalition as well as the National Latino Media Council and the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, both of which have clashed with Fox in the past, were there too.
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Simon Andreae, the former Channel 4 exec in the UK and former Discovery Channel exec in Los Angeles, is a guy best known for programs that mulled why the RMS Titanic sank and whether God created the universe, but also the first televised human autopsy, first televised exorcism and, of course, the series Naked And Afraid. He is replacing the Fox exec crowned Point Man For Perversity by The New York Times, Mike Darnell.
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In August, Andreae announced that after an eight-year stint in the U.S., he’d launched Scarlet Media and would be returning to the UK with a contract with Sony Pictures TV, reporting to SPT exec Andrea Wong, who used to head reality TV at ABC. Based in London, Andreae would develop factual and factual entertainment formats and specials for British TV and international markets.
While for public consumption Andreae is replacing Darnell, the job is smaller than it was under Darnell — and pays less, which eliminated a few of the candidates who’d been in talks, sources report. Andreae will oversee development; Fox veteran David Hill will hang on to the network’s current reality franchises American Idol and The X Factor. That’s maybe just as well for Andreae given that the two singing competitions had become something of a high-class headache for Darnell, what with Idol’s numbers still good but tumbling, and X Factor‘s promised gimongus crowd continuing to not show up for a third season despite yet another judge-panel makeover. Read More »
Fox has nixed midseason animated comedy series Murder Police. I hear the decision was made by Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly after reading scripts and watching footage of upcoming episodes. Because of the nature of animation production, there is work done on various episodes at the same time though I hear there is no completed episode yet. (The series order was made off a presentation.) I hear producer 20th Century Fox TV is planning to continue fulfilling the 13-episode order and shop the series elsewhere.
There has been only one addition to Fox’s “Animation Domination” Sunday block that has stuck since Reilly joined the network in 2007 — cult (and Fox brass) favorite Bob’s Burgers, which was recently renewed for a fifth season. Murder Police was Fox’s first animated series order in more than two years — since the 2010 pickups of Jonah Hill’s Allen Gregory and Napoleon Dynamite, which only aired for 7 and 6 episodes, respectively. With the stealth cancellation of The Cleveland Show, upcoming move of American Dad! to TBS and demise of Murder Police, there will be only three returning shows next season in Fox’s Sunday animated block that runs for as many as three hours when there is no football. Because of the long production cycle on an animated series, it is almost impossible to have a new animated comedy series ready for next fall unless the network transplants one of the projects from its ADHD Saturday late-night block. Read More »
Fox‘s entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly opened the network’s executive session with a slide presentation that mixed a passionate defense of the broadcast business and frustration with how success has been portrayed on cable vs. broadcast. He started off with the “good news”, that “TV consumption is up” before talking about the increasing portion of the audience who watch shows on demand and online, sometimes up to a third of a show’s viewership, that remains uncounted for. Ditto for the increasing share of viewers who watch an episode of a show beyond the three days after the premiere that the advertisers pay for. There is even a lot of “activity outside the 30-day window,” Reilly said. “We need to find a way to monetize the rest of the window.”
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Reilly also vented about the lower standards used to proclaim a cable series a hit vs. those on broadcast, noting that with its 2.2 18-49 rating, freshman The Mindy Project has been qualified as a modest or middling performer while it ranks higher than most of the heavily buzzed about cable series. “Of the 1,050 original series on cable last season, only four would’ve made it into the top 50 shows on television,” he said. Continuing a theme started by NBC’s topper Bob Greenblatt who called broadcast “the bastard child of television,” a statement that was shot down by CBS’ Les Moonves, Reilly said, “I don’t think we are the bastard or step child. I don’t think the broadcast system is broken or antiquated.” Reilly primarily took on cable because of Netflix’s refusal to report viewership, or as Reilly put it “the unreported mystery audience of Netflix.” He displayed his trademark candor by noting that “I respect most of my competitors, most of them.”
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Fox will adapt the hit British whodunnit Broadchurch as one of those “event series” it’s touting. Yes, it’s the same Broadchurch that BBC America is going to debut August 7. Fox’s version won’t start filming until January, and won’t air until the 2014-15 TV season. On the bright side, Fox’s version of the UK’s most-watched new drama of the year will be exec produced by the original series’ creator, Chris Chibnall. As described a few days ago at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2013 by BBC America, Broadchurch is about the mysterious death of a small-town boy found dead on the beach. The picturesque seaside town is at the heart of a major police investigation and the murder investigation sets off a nationwide media frenzy.
Related: TCA: BBC America’s ‘Broadchurch’ Will Have A Satisfying Conclusion Says Star Read More »
Fox decided to shake things up in its upfront presentation today. After talking about the increasing portion of viewing of Fox shows being time-shifted, Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly threw out the traditional night-by-night lineup presentation for the first time in favor of introducing the network’s new shows by genre.
First off was comedy, which made for unfavorable comparisons to the comedic banter with which Reilly and head of sales Toby Byrne opened the presentation. Among the more serious exchanges, Byrne acknowledged that after eight seasons on top, “we slipped a bit,” with Reilly responding that “I’m confident we will be back at No. 1 next season.”
Related: Fox 2013-14 Schedule
Always high on star power, the network brought onstage the stars of all of its new comedies and actors from all returning ones to a big applause. After a shtick between New Girl‘s Max Greenfield — who found an opportunity to show off his biceps — and Reilly, Reilly screened trailers for the network’s five new comedy series, with Andy Samberg’s cop show Brooklyn Nine-Nine getting very big applause.
Related: Fox New Series First Looks: Video Read More »
The new 12-episode 24 event series, titled 24: Live Another Day, will likely launch in early May 2014 running into the summer, Fox‘s entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly said during an upfront conference call this morning. The original idea to continue 24 was as a feature, which died after 24 showrunner Howard Gordon and his team concluded that ”24 being compressed into two hours is not 24,” Reilly said. But after Fox announced its event series push six months ago, Gordon sparked to the idea of resurrecting 24 that way. The 12-hour version will keep the real-time nature of the original series, skipping some hours in the 24-hour period it covers. That would actually benefit the show, Reilly said, noting that 24 producers always felt that the spine of each season of 24 were 12 episodes containing major events, with the other 12 providing connective tissue. “Now we’ll get the best part,” Reilly said. While Fox envisions its limited series as stand-alone, one-time events, some, including 24, could become franchises with multiple installments though it is unlikely to have a new 24 every year.
Related: Fox 2013-14 Schedule Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: After two and a half-years out of the Hollywood spotlight, former ABC president Stephen McPherson is eying a return as a producer with a deal at Fox Broadcasting Co. I hear the pact, which includes … Read More »
No “heads in assess” onstage references this time, but Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly still kept things entertaining during today’s network executive session at TCA with quick jabs and quips, some aimed at himself. The best one came in reaction to a critic apologizing for screwing up a question. “We all screw up — look at my fall,” Reilly said to loud laughter. He opened the session with a reference to the network’s pretty disastrous ratings performance this past fall: “Here at Fox we are leaping into the new year, no one is happier than us to turn the page.” Read More »
“A lot of us have our head up our asses,” Fox’s Kevin Reilly said today about TV executives during the Hollywood Radio & Television Society’s “The State of Broadcast” luncheon. The Fox Entertainment chairman also admitted during the panel discussion featuring Chernin Entertainment TV president Katherine Pope, UTA founding partner Peter Benedek and attorney Ken Ziffren of Ziffren Brittenham that he wished NBC’s The Voice “never happened”. “I don’t particularly like the show”, he said of the rival to his network’s American Idol. “I think Idol will have a long and graceful descent into maturity. It would have had a longer one if that show hadn’t came along. We’re not the only game in town now.”
Reilly, who can be unfiltered and entertaining at such events, dominated the session at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. The “head up our asses” comment came during a discussion about the effects of new services and platforms on the industry. “We’re looking too myopically at the business,” he said, adding that networks “are too obsessed with our competition with each other and not the consumer.” He agreed with the other panelists that there are “radical shifts in consumer behavior and how they are watching,” adding that “on any given night we’re speaking to only 30% of the audience.” Reilly hinted that as a result things might be different at this year’s upfronts. “I’ve been talking about year-round development,” he said. “It’s not blowing up the business. It’s trying to institutionalize what we can do better.” Read More »
UPDATED: Following the recent promotion of Peter Rice to Chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group, Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly has been elevated to the post once occupied by Rice — Chairman of Entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Co. As part of the promotion, Reilly has signed a new, multi-year contract with the network, believed to be for three years. In addition to all programming — including reality/alternative — and digital, Reilly also will oversee scheduling, marketing, research, and business affairs, areas that for the most part had reported to Rice. “Kevin is a uniquely gifted executive with the strong strategic vision and creative instincts to ensure that Fox continues to drive the future of our industry,” said Rice. “We are incredibly fortunate to have him here and thrilled he will be with us for many more years.” The title bump solidifies Reilly’s new position as the top executive at Fox. As entertainment president, he worked under Peter Liguori from 2007-09 and then Rice who both served as Fox Entertainment chairmen. (Rice’s duties were expanded in 2010 when he was upped to Chairman of Entertainment for Fox Networks Group, overseeing both Fox and FX.) Read More »
While most of the attention during Fox‘s TCA executive session was on American Idol and newly announced judge Mariah Carey, the network’s entertainment president Kevin Reilly was able to touch upon a few … Read More »
Like NBC’s presentation earlier today, Fox‘s presentation too opened with a comedy video featuring cast members from several shows. The setup was the quartet from Fox’s freshman comedy New Girl interviewing candidates for a new roommate. Glee‘s Will Schuester, Fringe‘s Walter Bishop, Bones‘ Temperance Brennan (played by New Girl star Zooey Deschanel’s sister Emily), the kid from Touch and Rubber Man from American Horror Story on sister network FX were among the characters who interviewed for the gig, along with Randy Jackson of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance‘s Mary Murphy.
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After Glee‘s Jane Lynch emceed the presentation for the past two years, ubiquitous American Idol host Ryan Seacrest took over the role this year, presenting Fox’s executives in the style of the reality series. Like a pro, he phoned in such lines as describing British-born Fox chairman Peter Rice as “as American as American Pie, Justin Bieber and soccer,” blending America’s favorite dessert with Canadian pop export Bieber and the world’s most popular sport that everyone outside the U.S. calls football. Seacrest also claimed that “After a nationwide vote, the biggest star at Fox is… Kevin Reilly.”
Reilly started the rollout of next season’s slate with Tuesday night, which features four comedies. “Since the first day I walked into Fox, this is the kind of comedy lineup I’ve wanted present to you,” Reilly said of Raising Hope, New Girl and newbies Ben & Kate and The Mindy Project. Fox has a third new comedy, Goodwin Games, on tap for midseason.
Related: FOX First Look Teasers: 2012-13 New Shows Read More »
We are at the tail end of a TV selling season that saw more bidding wars and production and put pilot commitments than I can remember, and that isn’t lost on the broadcast entertainment presidents. Survivor‘s Jeff Probst opened the discussion at the annual Hollywood Radio & Television Society network chiefs luncheon today by sharing that during his lunch with the executives before they took the stage, everyone was complaining about how crazy and out of whack this pitch season has been. Fox’s Kevin Reilly, who spoke his mind more than anyone else on the panel, quickly jumped in. “(NBC) got cash, (ABC) got competitive against that cash, and we took the bait,” is how Reilly summed up this year’s marketplace. “We all think we were played a little bit. Agents are doing very well this year as a result.” Reilly’s counterparts mostly agreed, though their responses were more measured. “It’s been very, very frantic this year,” CBS’ Nina Tassler said. She blamed media coverage for the increased intensity of the pitch season. “Every single thing that happens is now being reported, from a pitch to speculation on the terms of a deal, and that does absolutely impact the business.” Added NBC’s Jennifer Salke: “I get the email about a media inquiry while the producer is still in the parking lot. That adds to the frenzy.” But it wasn’t all bad this buying season, ABC’s Paul Lee said. “There was also a rush of new energy, with a lot of new people and new ideas; there was lot of ambition in the projects coming in,” he said. Read More »
Kevin Reilly, entertainment president of Fox Broadcasting Company, says that building awareness of new shows online before they premiere has become its new mantra. Reilly, giving the keynote this afternoon in Cannes, highlighted the new comedy New Girl as an example of how Fox uses social networks to build awareness. The network pre-released an episode on iTunes and VOD before it even aired the pilot, and got 2 million downloads. Fox has given New Girl an early back-nine pickup after two highly rated airings, bringing the order for the Zooey Deschanel comedy to 24 episodes. Reilly said that Fox really started exploiting social media with Glee. The show was streamed on Hulu before its TV premiere, and songs were pre-released on iTunes to keep social media chatter going. Reilly said: “The series premiered as a bona fide hit, which I am certain would not have been the case had we marketed it in a more traditional way.” Here’s the full transcript of Reilly’s speech:
“No One Knows Anything.” I’m sure you know this famous quote about Hollywood from the great screenwriter William Goldman.
A common interpretation is that all Hollywood executives are idiots. Granted, I’ve known quite a few who have personally contributed to that interpretation — but it’s not why it continues to ring true.
What it really speaks to is an underlying truth about creativity itself.
And it takes on new meaning in this time of massive, unnerving shifts in the marketplace. Having worked the better part of my 25 year career as a creative executive in our business, there are many days when I know very little. But I remain enamored with creative people and energized by magical moments of inspiration.
I’ve spent a lot of time encouraging, corralling, protecting and sparring with creative people. And I head up a television network– an organization that strives to nurture talent through a process in which their original ideas become a mass appeal product. Unfortunately, through this process, executives often become part of the problem in their attempts to help.
The challenge is that agendas rarely line up.
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Thousands of TV executives from around the world are en route to Cannes for the annual MIPCOM market, which starts on Monday. The great majority of them, who are flying into the nearby Nice airport, were greeted by a group of Pan Am stewardesses — a promotion for the new … Read More »
Fox just picked up Touch last week and already Entertainment President Kevin Reilly is unveiling the new drama series with star Kiefer Sutherland and executive producer Tim Kring at his side for a Q&A after his MIPCOM 2011 keynote on October … Read More »
Fox Broadcasting entertainment president Kevin Reilly will give the keynote address Oct. 4 to headline the Media Mastermind presentations at MIPCOM, the annual TV content confab that runs Oct. 3-6 in Cannes. Organizers said his speech will explore what it … Read More »