NETWORK FOLLIES, CONTINUED: Since there’s no such thing as a rumour in Hollywood, only next week’s official news as reported by anonymous assistants, it seems Kevin Reilly, former head of entertainment at NBC, has indeed been reunited with his old friend Peter Liguori to do for Fox what they once did for FX. That makes Reilly’s elapsed time in the entertainment executive wilderness barely two months — a pretty good reward for the guy who oversaw NBC’s nosedive, but, hey, he gave me Joey, and that’s a punchline that never gets old.
“I feel like I’ve won the lotto somehow,” Reilly told Variety. You can say that again.
It’s one of the marvels of the entertainment business that a man who saw his network go from first to fourth place in ratings can get fired for producing a lacklustre fall lineup, then end up in the same job at the network that — more due to the phenomenon of American Idol than any astute history of programming decisions — went from last to first place in the same time period, and in barely more time than it takes Fox to cancel a new show. It’s like plucking the captain of the Titanic fresh from the icy waters of the North Atlantic and putting him in charge of the next ocean liner that sails past.
Reilly told Variety he didn’t think the move to Fox felt “like I’m going back into an uphill battle.” It sounds like Reilly considers NBC’s slide to be more of an example of basic physics — from its place on the top, the network had nowhere to go but down when he took over — instead of acknowledging one of the essential roles of a chief executive: to be the obvious fall guy when things go pear-shaped.
Of course, his challenge now will be to weather the ritual shaky fall start to Fox’s year, its halting progress through autumn and the holidays until its tent-pole shows — Idol and 24 — start up in the new year and put the spinach in the network’s Popeye. At least he’ll have the excuse of having little to do with Fox’s fall lineup — that would be Liguori’s legacy — so it will be months, perhaps even a year, before we get a chance to see what the Kevin Reilly Fox will look like. You’ll know things are in trouble when he orders a King Of The Hill spin-off show titled Luanne.
REQUIEM FOR HONEST ED: The Biography Channel Canada ran its bio of the late “Honest” Ed Mirvish last night, and will be repeating the show today at 9 a.m., 2 p.m., 7 p.m., 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET. One assumes The Life And Times Of Ed Mirvish omits the last chapter of Ed’s life, but for anyone who wants to look back on the life of a proud Canadian, above and beyond his commitment to his adopted hometown of Toronto, this would be a nice place to start.
Donations in Mirvish’s memory can be made to his fund for entrepreneurs, the Ed Mirvish Educational Memorial Fund c/o The Benjamin Foundation, at 429 Bathurst St., Toronto, ON, M6A 2C3, or at 416-780-0324.