Kevin Reilly, Fox President of Entertainment, delivered big news during his network’s presentation at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., on Sunday, but it wasn’t the word fans of “House,” “Fringe” and “Terra Nova” were hoping for.
Expanding upon its successful slate of animated comedies, Fox announced the creation of a new unit that will produce “alternative animated content.” Think: Adult Swim. The programming will run late-night on Saturdays starting January 2013, as well as online; former Adult Swim development head Nick Weidenfeld and producer Hend Baghdady are in charge of the division. Reilly said animated programming that “doesn’t fit the primetime mold” would find a home in this new block. He envisions producing digital shorts that “could become the next primetime hit” will be cultivated there. “We’re going to create a business around [that model],” he said.
Reilly was less straightforward about current programming. When asked about the fate of “House,” he blunted stated, “I think we’ve just been avoiding” making the decision. He told journalists that Fox executives “haven’t had the big meeting of what we’re going to do,” but promises that he will give creator David Shore plenty of notice when cancellation is eminent so the show is able to end with some sense of closure.
Reilly had the same shoulder shrug answer for the renewal of “Fringe” and “Terra Nova,” but the outlook for both is not sounding very good. Regarding “Terra Nova,” Reilly said that he was satisfied with its performance in the fall — understandable, considering it made money for the network, despite being one of the priciest series to produce. The dagger came when Reilly said, “creatively, [‘Terra Nova’] was hunting.”
Conversely, Reilly admitted that “Fringe,” though a “point of pride” for the network, is an “expensive show” and Fox loses “a lot of money” making it. “We’re not in the business of losing money,” he said. But don’t start the letter-writing campaign just yet, he begged: “We really have to sit down with that entity. We have to figure out if there’s a number that makes sense [to keep it on the schedule].”