Press Tour 2013 Live-Blog: FOX Executive Session with Kevin Reilly

01.08.13 5 years ago 7 Comments

After two busy panels for “The Following” and “American Idol,” it’s time for the TCA press tour to meet with FOX Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly. FOX is down steeply year-to-year, so we’ll see how heated things get about failures like “The Mob Doctor” and the relative disappointment of the rebooted “The X Factor.” 

Click through for the full live-blog…

11:59 a.m. Reilly begins by admitted that FOX limped at the end of last year. And he hopes for better this year.

12:00 p.m. The first question is about “Bones” and whether it will be renewed. There’s a renewal notice sitting in front of each of us. So this is awkward.

12:00 p.m. “There is more choice, more quality more breadth of quality,” Reilly says of the TV landscape after saying that he wants us to continue to ask questions about the ratings system. There are so many opportunities and ways to watch and marathon TV. He’s particularly bitter about people who chose to marathon “Breaking Bad” during FOX premiere week. He notes that there are  a lot of shows that can attract niche viewership, but FOX is in “a hit driven business” and he notes that FOX is suffering from not developing a hit this past year.

12:03 p.m. Kevin Reilly thinks the Britney Spears experiment went “very, very well” and that “people remain fascinated with her and always will be.” He notes that “maybe some people were waiting for more drastic” behavior, but he calls “The X Factor” “a better show” in its second season. “She tucked in really nicely on that bench,” Reilly says, but he refuses to say whether or not Britney is going to return. He says that FOX is on board with Britney returning, but Simon Cowell has been on vacation.

12:05 p.m. “You have to absorb everything. We’re in the culture business,” Reilly says of how FOX has been impacted by tragedies in Connecticut and Colorado. “We both reflect society and at times we try to drive it.” He says that “I think you can’t be reactionary and I think you can’t make a direct linkage,” but admits that it’s on his mind. Regarding people who say that the level of violence has grown excessive, Reilly says that he’s just a part of a large media landscape. “It’s a more complex conversation. I think it trivializes to link it to television or broadcast television specifically,” he says, but he says, again, that these things are on his mind. “The conversation is a complex one and a broad one,” he deflects.

12:07 p.m. The reporter who asked about “Bones” apologizes for the goof early. Reilly is very accommodating “Look at my fall,” Reilly says amiably. 

12:08 p.m. “I think there have been more violent shows on television,” Reilly says of “The Following,” saying that we may care more about this one because of its quality. He says they haven’t had to fight over anything with the Standards department. “Before there was cable, FOX was cable,” Reilly says, recalling the days when FOX was “the edge of what was bold.” He reminds us that they aren’t just competing with network shows anymore, since “The Walking Dead” is TV’s most watched show anywhere among young viewers. “We must match the intensity, otherwise we’re going to be a pale comparison,” Reilly says.

12:10 p.m. Reilly says, however, that competing with cable isn’t just about violence and intensity, though when you’re doing a thriller, you have to compete on that level. He notes that FOX has lots of different things, including upbeat comedies, popular family shows and broader shows. However, when putting on a thriller… Yeah. Reilly flashes back to 1993 when he was on the road doing focus groups. At that time, “NYPD Blue” was being marketed around its pushing of content barriers. He remembers being in Kansas City and meeting a little old lady, who says she loved “NYPD Blue.” He found this notable and I’m not sure why. “Part of what we do on television is provide escapism. Escapism comes in many forms,” Reilly says, claiming that escapism, fantasy and witnessing our biggest fears all count as “escapism.” “When we are doing a thriller and we’re doing a cop story, you have to compete on that level of intensity,” he closes.

12:13 p.m. Are the standards for television different for “intensity”? “Intensity is a vague thing to measure. That’s a subjective measurement. We do take it into account,” Reilly says, claiming that they’re marketing this particular show to a particular audience and “at a certain point the audience selects and they know what they’re getting and what they’re not getting.” He says that comedies self-select similarly.

12:15 p.m. FOX is not going to air the episodes of “In Living Color” that they shot. “It just didn’t seem like it was going to reinvent the next chapter,” he says. Boo. I did a set visit and interviewed the whole new cast. Regarding “Goodwin Games,” Reilly admits to disappointment with how the Tuesday comedies do in the fall. He thinks audiences worry about “too much churn.” Traditionally, FOX has programmed with ‘a lot of churn.” He notes that audiences are waiting to see what sticks before committing. “I’m creatively very happy with what’s happening in that block,” he says of Tuesday. “‘Goodwin Games’ is a nice show. I’m not sure if it’s going to improve our lot ratings-wise,” he says. So the plan is to maintain consistency and “Goodwin Games” will pop up in the summer.

12:17 p.m. A question about “Stars in Danger” and whether they want ratings or just to damage ABC’s similar diving show. “You get no points for damaging someone else,” Reilly says, claiming they expect ratings. “It’s all fair. Ours was ready earlier. We put it on the air. It’s a one-time special. If it works, it’ll be back,” he says. Reilly says FOX had an airdate. So that’s where it went.

12:19 p.m. “I liked it. You didn’t like it?” Reilly asks a reporter who didn’t like “So You Think You Can Dance” as a once-a-week show. Mike Darnell, from the back of the room, says that once a week worked. “We liked the momentum of having the payoff within the body of the show itself,” Reilly says. 

12:20 p.m. “The metrics are something we’re spending a lot of time on, measurement,” Reilly says. Lots of people are watching FOX outside of their monetizable window. He mentions streaming, VoD and over-the-top services. He expects that “The Following” will get “a resounding vote early on.” Reilly calls “The Following” fantastic. But comedy is a different issue. He recalls that back in the day, comedies weren’t star-driven, they were shows that made stars. He says that comedies often start low and grow. Because of DVRs, it’s harder to create flow and to get viewers to settle in for comedy blocks. “Our shows weren’t rejected. They weren’t even really sampled,” Reilly laments. “That means they’re either rolling over it on the DVR, or they haven’t gotten it on their radar,” Reilly says. He feels that viewers have more urgency to view dramas than comedies.

12:24 p.m. Back to Reilly saying that there’s a “broader discussion” about violence on television and society. Does he think this discussion will happen? Not… really. Exactly. Why not? People love violence. “Clearly there’s an appetite. Let’s say this for a fact,” Reilly wants to note. “That’s the business we’re in of providing things that people like,” he adds. He welcomes any study that will further “a constructive dialogue.” “In complex matters, we all like a scapegoat,” he says. 

12:26 p.m. Is FOX looking for a new genre-type program with “Fringe” departing? Reilly says FOX has always been in that business. “We’ve had some bad false starts and broken some hearts,” he says, but they still want to be there. 

12:27 p.m. Reilly cites our country’s Puritan roots for why we have a greater tolerance for violent content than sexual content. 

12:29 p.m. “I really like the consistency of the work,” Reilly says of “Glee,” calling the dual-setting world “high risk.” FOX saw interruption on 18 of the first 38 days of the fall, which is an excuse for some of FOX’s struggles.

12:30 p.m. Back to “The Following”… What is FOX’s strategy with the time slot. “We have two hours of programming. We put it in the latest time slot we had,” he says, also referencing a history of success for “propulsive” hits on Monday, which he dubs “Macho Monday.”

12:31 p.m. What was his reaction to NBC scheduling an episode of “The Voice” against the “X Factor” premiere? “It went in the file for later reference. The score will be settled at some point. I don’t know when,” Reilly says, calling it “slightly on the cheesy side.”

That’s all, folks…

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