BEVERLY HILLS – By delaying FOX’s Executive Session for mid-morning, we’ve already gotten a teaser of things to come when “Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said that he was still in negotiations for next season and hinted that Jennifer Lopez is only 99 percent likely to leave. In short: Expect no concrete answers on the “Idol” front from FOX Entertainment President Kevin Reilly.
But will he say? Click through…
12:02 p.m. “You’ve got the non-stories at the ready and I will deny it all,” Kevin Reilly says. But guess what… He has NEWS! The deal was concluded hours ago… The judge couldn’t be here… Kevin Reilly’s calling… He’s having technical difficulties. “It’d be funny if I got the machine, wouldn’t it?” He says. “Hi, Mariah… How are you? It’s Kevin… We do have a deal, don’t we? Yes!” Kevin Reilly says into his phone. He puts her on speaker… “Hi Kevin, hi everybody,” Mariah Carey says. The FOX contingent at the back of the crowd. “I’m so excited to be joining ‘Idol,'” Mariah Carey says… “I can’t wait to get started,” she says.
12:05 p.m. Reilly’s pleased he had something to announce. “Although we finished this season at the top once again… Although the show is as vital as ever,” Reilly emphasizes, before mentioning that the ratings were down. “We were very transparent with our talent,” Reilly says. He also appears to ACTUALLY confirm that Jennifer Lopez is out, in addition to Steven Tyler. “Randy has been working with Mariah for a long, long time and is, in fact, her co-manager and Randy was very instrumental in making this deal,” Reilly says. So we know that Tyler and Lopez are out, but we don’t know anything about Randy.
12:07 p.m. “Without a doubt,” Reilly says of whether “X Factor” had sufficient value in the fall to make up for the drop in “Idol.”
12:08 p.m. “I think that was a personal thing, just a human thing,” Reilly says of Nigel Lythgoe’s refusal to say for sure that Lopez won’t be back. “I think I can say that it’s 100 percent that Jennifer won’t be back on the show,” Reilly says.
12:09 p.m. “Since I took this job at FOX, I’ve been talking about my desire to get the comedy brand going again,” Reilly reminds us, saying that this year, with the Tuesday block, this is the first time that the network has had a full block “that fits.” The network had targeted “Ben and Kate” all year long, while “The Mindy Project” was “a great stroke of luck,” Reilly admits, reminding us that he worked with Mindy way back in the day on “The Office.” Reilly calls NBC’s decision not to pick up “The Mindy Project” a smart business decision, reminding us that Universal previously had a big hit on FOX with “House.”
12:11 p.m. “Now that I’ve read the first three scripts, I am very, very happy with how seamless it is,” Reilly says of “Glee.” “This is sort of the natural almost the mirror to real life. People graduate and new people come in,” Reilly says. He wants the relationship with the actors to be “fluid,” saying that it can be an event when certain actors return on “limited” contracts. “Clearly we can’t be in two locations moving two tapestries forward,” Reilly says, speaking highly of the New York backdrop.
12:13 p.m. Which show is Reilly least certain about this fall? “There;s no certainty in anything in this business. The things that seem like a lay-up often aren’t,” Reilly says. He can’t talk specifically this year, but “I like the way we’re teed up this year,” he says, viewing CBS as the network’s major competitor, admitting that with the Super Bowl and the AFC playoffs, CBS may have an advantage in winning the key demo. “I can tell you that at the very least, it’s going to be close,” Reilly says. “Whether we end up getting nudged out of the title, we’ll see,” he says.
12:15 p.m. Why move “Glee” to Thursday? “We’ve been waiting for four,” Reilly says of Tuesday comedies. “I think that’s the kind of schedule I’d like to see in place for the next couple of years,” he says.
12:16 p.m. A critic thanks Reilly for letting “Fringe” go out with dignity. “Look, I don’t like to pull the plug on any show, because many of our failed shows, most of them, have many many million fans,” he says. “We have a checked history with genre at best, because we’re one of the only networks that have tried genre,” Reilly adds, praising “Fringe” for being a really contemporary show and for doing good business on Friday. “I’m hoping this puts to bed some of our Ghost of Comic-Con, as it were,” Reilly says, hoping for some cred for seeing “Fringe” through. Will Reilly continue to embrace the genre? People expect the unexpected from FOX, Reilly says. “We didn’t dip into it this year,” Reilly admits, though he notes that “The Following” is genre in its own way.
12:18 p.m. We’re still confused by “Glee” and its geography. “We will be in both locations in most shows. There’s not a rigid formula,” Reilly says. He claims that he contemplated splitting the season in half and doing one half in Ohio and one half in NYC, but he didn’t think that was what fans were going to want. The key word: “Seamlessly.” The early episodes cut back and forth with thematic linkages between the two geographies. “It all feels very natural if you’ve been a fan of the show,” he promises.
12:20 p.m. What are Reilly’s hopes for women behind the camera and in front of the camera? “I actually think we have the most diverse workforce at FBC of any contender at any network,” Reilly insists. “We do have the largest female audience,” he says proudly. “Look. Women control the dial,” he maintains, telling the reporter that he’ll happily release statistics for female involvement behind the camera. The network has the highest concentration of both women and young women, but “we’re not in the one-quadrant business.” In this light, he praises “New Girl” for becoming an ensemble last season, rather than just a showcase for Zooey Deschanel.
12:23 p.m. Reilly wants to point out that FOX monetizes over three days and he wants us to stop reporting overnight ratings. “This summer, we are the only number that is, in fact, not down,” he says. “This business was built on a mix of repeats and originals and repeats do not have a lot of value on air anymore,” Reilly says, pointing out that most viewers who like to catch up on shows prefer to catch up online. That, he explains, is why some summer nights are becoming anemic for other networks. Penetration of DVR use, particularly in the key demo, has reached 50 percent, he says. “As long as we can count those people and monetize it, it’s not bad for our business,” Reilly says.
12:23 p.m. What’s going on with hosting on “X Factor”? Why do we not know this? How weird. “We’re pretty close. It could happen next week. It could happen in two weeks,” Reilly says, refusing to confirm is Simon Cowell is looking at two hosts or one. “I think they’re going to be surprised just how feisty she is. She’s not afraid to lay it on the line. She’s tough,” Reilly says of Britney Spears on “X Factor.” He also calls Demi Lovato “a real spitfire” and says she took on Simon Cowell on Day One.
12:28 p.m. Regarding the shows nominated for drama Emmys from cable, Reilly says he couldn’t think of any of the nominated shows that could work on a network. He wants to make it very clear that those shows wouldn’t make the cut on network, ratings-wise, so they’re just not in the same business. Reilly says, however, that it’s a cycle and he hopes FOX will have shows there next year.
12:31 p.m. “Cosmos” is still in development and FOX isn’t sure when it’s going to air.
12:32 p.m. What is the latest on Seth on FOX? “He’s busy,” Reilly says, professing his love for Seth. “He’s not dialed out. He is busy. We have no plans to do anything new in the short-run..”
12:33 p.m. Follow-up about Reilly’s contention that FOX could have shows in the Emmy fields never year. He salutes “Touch” as a show that’s finding itself and could be in the running next year. [He’s wrong. But whatever…] “I think we have a really fertile slate this year,” Reilly says, referencing the 15-episode model they have for “The Following.” That Kevin Bacon drama will air without preemptions as much as possible, with a cable-style episode run and model. He’d like “The Following” to stick and then to find a similar show for next fall.
That’s all, folks…