Fox rolls out four new comedies; frets over ‘Idol’

* Rolls out four comedies, three new dramas for prime time

* Roster includes Spielberg-produced family drama

* Aims to ‘supersize’ Glee with post-Super Bowl slot

* Plans tweaks to ‘American Idol’ post-Simon Cowell

By Yinka Adegoke

NEW YORK, May 17 (BestGrowthStock) – Fox Broadcasting unveiled a
U.S. prime-time TV lineup that looks to new comedies, the magic
touch of Hollywood director Steven Spielberg and the success of
musical series “Glee” to bolster a schedule that has been tops
with young audiences for six years running.

The biggest question left unanswered on Monday by Fox —
the second broadcast network to unveil its 2010-11 television
schedule — is how it plans to cope with the departure of
American Idol judge Simon Cowell, long seen as the face of the
most popular TV show in the United States.

Fox executives said on a conference call they are exploring
new formats for the show, while looking for a replacement for
Cowell with pop music credibility.

“There’s no bigger question for the summer,” said Peter
Rice, chairman, entertainment, Fox Networks Group
(nN17268434: ).

Fox, owned by News Corp (NWSA.O: ), follows NBC in taking the
wraps off its 2010-11 prime-time schedule (nN13146597: ). Walt
Disney Co’s (DIS.N: ) ABC and CBS Corp’s (CBS.N: ) CBS are up next,
before TV executives get down to the business of negotiating
billions of dollars of TV ad sales in the annual bazaar known
as the upfront market.

With the expected rebound in the advertising market from
the lows of 2009, sales are likely to be up during this year’s
upfronts, so named because the dealmaking occurs before the TV
season actually begins. By some estimates, ad dollars could be
up 20 percent for the big four broadcast networks.

Fox finds itself in better shape than most of its rivals,
because of its popularity with 18-49 year-old viewers. That can
largely be attributed to the long-running success of “American
Idol,” as well as hit dramas such as “24” and “House.”

But with Cowell leaving Idol and “24” finally coming to an
end this year, Fox is entering uncharted territory and is
taking a bet on new shows like Steven Spielberg-produced “Terra
Nova,” a sci-fi adventure series about a family who travels
back in time millions of years.

“Terra Nova,” slated to kick off in second half of the
season, also sees the return to Fox of former News Corp chief
Peter Chernin, who joins Spielberg in producing credits.

Fox is also placing a big bet on comedies this season,
starting with a new look Tuesday night this fall.

The night will be anchored by “Glee,” which will be
followed by two new comedies, “Raising Hope,” about a
dysfunctional family, and “Running Wilde,” a romantic comedy
featuring Will Arnett of “Arrested Development” as a playboy
trying to win the love of Keri Russell, star of “Felicity.”

In the spring, Fox will premiere another comedy on Tuesday
nights called “Mixed Signals,” a relationship comedy that the
network hopes will prove popular with female viewers.

Fox, which has had huge success over the years on Sunday
nights with animated comedies like “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy”
and “The Cleveland Show,” will debut yet another this spring,
called “Bob’s Burgers.” It, too, will be a Sunday offering.

And “Glee,” which was the No. 1 new series of this season,
will get an extra boost when Fox places the show in the coveted
slot after February’s Super Bowl. Executives described the
decision as a move to ‘supersize’ Glee’s already huge
popularity.

In addition to “Terra Nova,” Fox took the wraps off two
other dramas for 2010-11. “Lonestar,” a Texas-based drama
likened to 80s hit show “Dallas,” will premiere on Monday
nights in the fall. Then, midseason, Fox will bring on the
Chicago-based police drama “Ride-Along” from Shawn Ryan,
creator of “The Shield” and “The Unit.”

All of the new comedies and dramas will be tucked in
between already well-known shows to ensure they don’t get lost
in the ratings battle, according to Fox executives.

“We’re going to use all of our strongest assets to support
the new shows,” said Fox President of Entertainment Kevin
Reilly. “None of these new shows are going to be hanging out
there trying to make a go of it.”

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(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Fox rolls out four new comedies; frets over ‘Idol’