Thanks to Sunday’s Golden Globe awards, FOX Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly has plenty to celebrate at his Television Critics Association press tour pow-wow with reporters. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” was a surprise double-winner and it’s always good to have positives.
How long will Reilly be able to remain chipper?
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11:06 a.m. Kevin Reilly is going to have a hard time following “Rake” EP Peter Tolan, who delivered one of those TCA performances that makes the room warm to a show that may or may not have had universal support before.
11:09 a.m. Reilly begins by promising he’s going to fit two hours of information into five minutes and he has an egg timer to prove it. FOX is flat for the season. “A little flatter that I want to be,” he admits, while emphasizing that new shows have performed well. He praises “Sleepy Hollow” and “MasterChef Junior.” He’s proud of all four comedies on Tuesday, mentioning the “Brooklyn” win. He admits to the ratings being “frustrating,” but touts off-network ratings. He wants to remind us that standard Nielsen overnight ratings are only a fraction. VOD is up 44 percent. Streaming on Hulu is up 55 percent. He says FOX would be up season-to-date by 8 percent if you included all platforms. He says that 60 percent of viewers who start a program on Hulu finish it, which beats channel-surfing live. He wants C+4 and beyond to have value, raving about the 30-day tail for shows. Viewing beyond the first three days is up by 17 percent this year.
11:13 a.m. “R.I.P. pilot season,” Reilly says, complete with a funny animated graphic of a tombstone. FOX is bypassing pilot season this year. “The broadcasting developing and scheduling system was built for a different era,” Reilly says. His egg-timer goes off and he gives himself another five minutes. Heh. He talks about the ridiculous system that networks have used for years. “Honestly, it’s nothing short of a miracle that the talent is able to produce anything of quality in that environment,” he says. He says that every first season show needs further cooking. He wants to find a better way. They’re in some stage of development on 10 shows. That includes “Wayward Pines” and “Gracepoint.” They’ll begin series production on “Backstom” in March. “Hieroglyph” is currently prepping in Santa Fe and Morocco, with three scripts and a series bible. “Gotham” will be staffing in mid-February. “Middle Man” has five scripts in motion as of now. There’s also “Mulaney” and a Tina Fey pilot. “Fatrick” is shooting in a few weeks and he anticipates a series pickup in February. “For FOX, I think we can build a more talent-friendly way of doing this,” Reilly says. As was announced this morning, FOX has a new comedy development deal with The Lonely Island Boy. He claims that he and Andy Samberg made the deal last night after drinks, but that’s a joke.
11:19 a.m. “There is no decision. I love him. He’s doing what he should do as a producer,” Reilly says of Simon Cowell’s claim that “X Factor” may come back. He admits that FOX is disappointed by ratings, but emphasizes how well the brand has done around the world. “If the show were to come back, it would not be in the current format we have,” Reilly says. They have an option date in the next week, but they probably won’t decide for another. “He’s never going to be out of it. It’s his format. It’s his creation,” he says of Simon Cowell, though he may not be on-camera.
11:21 a.m. “I wish ‘The Voice’ would go away first,” Reilly says of the idea that “X Factor” and “Idol” are crowding each other out. “I don’t ever count Simon Cowell out,” he says.
11:22 a.m. “We can’t be in the one-size-fits-all business,” Reilly says. He says audiences don’t know from “midseason” or “summer” or “fall.” He notes that “24” and “Gang Related” are both premiering in May and playing into summer. “We’re just going where they ain’t, which was the way cable was built,” he says. Of the new shows in development, he says some will air in the summer. Some summer. “It’s not a big story for you guys when cable rolls back a premiere date,” Reilly says, claiming that most HBO shows reshoot parts of their pilots.
11:24 a.m. “We may do a few more. Again, there’s not a magic number,” Reilly says of the 13-episode “Sleepy Hollow” episode order for next year. “It’s better for the audience’s focus and attention to do shorter orders,” Reilly says. “I think many dramas are just better creatively on a shorter order pattern,” he says.
11:25 a.m. Does FOX have a new Diversity Mandate? It’s not “new.” They started something a couple years ago. He didn’t like the way old diversity standards were working. “When we started talking about it in a different way and just integrating it in overnight, literally it changed,” he says. He praises FOX’s senior executive ranks and at the complexion of FOX’s on-air casts. “I think we’re finally getting there,” he says. “There’s a hidden trap in the effort to do things good,” he admits of some diversity programs. He says the key is to appeal to peoples’ creativity. He says the key is to make a career in the industry seem like a potential career for more people from different backgrounds.
11:28 a.m. A question about the burying of “Enlisted” on Fridays. Why did they decide not to preview or try it on a different night? “You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t,” Reilly says. “Because the night has been fragile in the ratings, the more disruption you have on the night, the more you’re causing audience confusion,” Reilly says of Tuesdays. He warns us about Daylight Savings Time and the drop of HUT levels in March. “I didn’t really have a spot for it,” Reilly says of “Enlisted.” “We’re going to continue to program Friday night with first-run shows,” he promises. What is it about “Dads” that has made FOX stick with it? “We made our bet with ‘Dads’ in the time period and I think ‘Dads’ has come a long way,” Reilly says. He swears that if we really watch the show it has gotten better. “It is what it is,” he says, but adds that it has made him laugh. “I just wanted to see that show all the way through,” Reilly says. “I’m going to hang with it through the 13 and we’ll see how the DVR looks,” he says of “Enlisted.”
11:30 a.m. “It’s a mess. People can’t watch television like that anymore,” Reilly says of the constant stops and starts of productions and airdates. He says that ideally, “Sleepy Hollow” would have aired 13 weeks in a row, but they really couldn’t sustain that because of the production and post-production schedule. They’ll be starting production on Season 2 in March.
11:32 a.m. “Batman’s in it!” Reilly says of “Gotham.” He says it’s all of the classic Batman characters, including the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman and a Young Bruce Wayne. “It is going to be this operatic soap that has a slightly larger-than-life quality,” saying that the final episode of the series will be Batman putting on the cape. He’ll be a young boy when the show begins, “Somewhere around 12,” Reilly guesses.
11:33 p.m. Reference to “Bones” as “a well-oiled machine” and as an example of a show that works well with 22 episodes or even 24 episodes. Some comedies also work with that kind of count. So not everything should be 13.
11:34 a.m. Reilly isn’t nervous about the Supreme Court and Aereo. We feel we have a very strong case. He repeats again the threat of becoming a cable network if their business is threatened. But they don’t want to do this.
11:35 a.m. “It’s actually a fallacy that we’ve perpetuated,” Reilly says of the idea that advertisers won’t pay for summer programming. “We’re going to have to break a habit,” he admits. “There are plenty of advertisers and there’s plenty of revenue to book in the summer,” he promises.
11:37 a.m. “That’s their business,” Reilly says of if he would have done anything differently from what A&E did in the “Duck Dynasty” situation.
11:38 a.m. “A great show’s gonna be a great show and a horrible show’s gonna be a horrible show, but a lot of them live in the middle,” Reilly says, adding that they often pick up shows based on potential, based on hopes they might turn into something. He says that the problem is that they have to project shows out too far and they should be making choices based on more of a body of work. He references “Sons of Anarchy” recasting its lead and then succeeding as an example of something that wouldn’t happen on network because of the rush to make things fast.
11:40 a.m. “There are cultural particularities that I think would cap it off,” Reilly says of why the network didn’t just air “Broadchurch.” He said we know “Broadchurch,” but most Americans don’t know what it is. They contemplated airing the original, but they wanted a bigger audience. “We have a different ending from they have, so there will be something to stay tuned for, with a twist,” he says of “Gracepoint,” which will also be 10 episodes instead of the British eight.
11:41 a.m. Will having more in the pipeline make them pull shows faster because they have things ready to fill those spaces. “I would actually hope the opposite,” he says. He says that currently he can save money by pulling the plug on things in production. In this case, they will have produced everything, so they’ll be more incentivized to air what they’ve produced.
11:43 a.m. Kevin Reilly knows nothing at all about the proposed new “Terminator” series. “No,” he says flatly. “I would have no interest in that.”
11:44 a.m. Thoughts on a third season of “Mindy Project”? “I’m pretty bullish on it coming back. I love the show,” he says, raving about its creativity. “The ratings are, for us, not where we wish they would be,” he says. “It is a highly upscale show,” he says, claiming FOX makes money on the show.
11:45 a.m. “On our worst day of creative dialogue, it’s like a dream come true,” Reilly says of working with Mike Schur and Dan Goor on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
11:45 a.m. “That’s what we do. It’s American regular,” Reilly says of casting Anna Gunn in the Olivia Colman role for “Gracepoint.” He claims that Anna Gunn is both striking and approachable. He said they intended to do an American cast top-to-bottom, but David indicated he wanted to do the role. “It felt like his Hugh Laurie moment in time,” Reilly says.
11:46 a.m. “We’re negotiating with ‘Bones’ on another season, but I’m anticipating it will be back,” Reilly says, noting that Hart Hanson will be concentrating on “Backstrom” and Stephen Nathan would be running it alone.
11:47 a.m. Reilly promises real changes in the middle rounds of “American Idol” this year, but says that the differences will be “little finesse things throughout.” He says the judges game in and didn’t want it to be about them. The judges want the kids to learn and to understand where their opinions are coming from. “It feels good,” he says. He anticipates that they’ll be down, but hopes it will be a good season and ratings will hold on and flatten out as the season progresses.
That’s all, folks!