Fox announced its prime time slate for 2008-09 on May 15, with two new dramas, three new comedies, and one unscripted series joining the schedule, along with two new animated series. Despite the impact of the strike on network television, FOX had an excellent year last year, winning the May sweeps for the fourth year in a row, coming number one in the 18-49 age group by 1.2 ratings points, the largest advantage in six years, and, for the first time, coming first among total viewers.
I was able to participate in a conference call with Peter Liguori, Chairman, Entertainment, Kevin Reilly, President, Entertainment, Jon Nesvig, President, Sales, Joe Earley, Executive Vice President, Marketing & Communications, and Preston Beckman, Executive Vice President, Strategic Program Planning & Research, as they discussed the upcoming season.
Reilly started off the call noting that the recent writers’ strike caused major development issues and FOX decided not to compensate by rushing anything into production. Instead, the network will continue its commitment to year-round programming by introducing two new programs for the fall, and introducing up to five more in the second season in January, when FOX’s circulation surges. Reilly also said that as a result of the strike, FOX has taken some projects from this development period and pushed them ahead to next year in order to keep almost a year ahead in the development cycle.
With that in mind, the tent pole of the fall will be the new drama Fringe from acclaimed writer/producer J.J. Abrams. The series is a thriller with sci fi elements, starring Joshua Jackson (Dawson’s Creek) and John Noble (Lord of the Rings). Fox will use hit show House as a lead-in at 8:00 pm on Tuesday, with Fringe following at 9:00. Reilly confirmed that there are high expectations for the Abrams show and FOX will have a huge campaign to promote it. (Fringe photo credit Michael Lavine/FOX).