Just as Kevin Reilly was ramping up his “call to arms” regarding the movement away from network television’s “pilot season” tradition, the Fox Entertainment Chairman is now stepping down from his post. It was announced today that Reilly will resign from Fox effective immediately, with a replacement TBA. Though Reilly had a promising goal of hoping to transform network television to a model that valued year-round programming and straight-to-series orders over the traditional pilot season, Fox’s ratings have been on a sharp decline over the past couple of years under his tutelage. The once behemoth American Idol continues to plummet, Glee is a shell of its former self, and Fox’s key comedies New Girl and The Mindy Project ended the 2013-14 TV season with series low ratings.
Hit the jump for more on what Reily’s exit means for the network.
After opting to bypass pilot season this year, only three of Reilly’s new series—Sleepy Hollow, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Masterchef Junior—are returning for next season. He had cautioned that this new approach would take patience, but with the network’s ratings in the toilet, it appears that he was unable to maintain his position to see this thing out.
It’s unclear if Reilly’s replacement will continue this curious experiment or if the network will return to its old ways, but you have to admire Reilly for trying something new. Hopefully the returning freshman series—especially Brooklyn Nine-Nine—are given a chance to find footing under this new reign.
Kevin Reilly announced today that he will depart Fox Broadcasting Company by the end of June.
“21st Century Fox is a great company that has provided me with choice seats at the head table of pop culture over two very rewarding stints both at FBC and FX, and I am grateful to have benefitted from the leadership of Peter Rice, Chase Carey and Rupert Murdoch,” said Reilly. “Peter and I have been discussing this transition for a while, and now with a robust new slate of programming for next season and strength in the FBC ranks, it felt like the timing was as right as it could be. I couldn’t be more thankful to my team – a group of creative, tireless and fun people whose fellowship I will miss.”
Peter Rice, Chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group, said, “Kevin’s undeniable creative gift and passion for talent have left an indelible mark on our company, and we’re extremely grateful to him for his leadership, beginning with ‘The Shield’ and ‘Nip/Tuck’ at FX and continuing through GLEE, NEW GIRL, THE FOLLOWING, SLEEPY HOLLOW and BROOKLYN NINE-NINE at FOX. Kevin and I have been discussing his desire for a new challenge for some time, so while everyone at the network will miss his enthusiasm for adventurous television, we all respect his decision and agreed that after the upfront presentation was the right time. I’m personally extremely grateful to Kevin for his partnership during the past five years and look forward to working with him again in the future.”
During the transition period, before naming a replacement, Reilly’s senior executives will report to Rice.
Reilly, who joined FOX in 2007 and was named Chairman of Entertainment in 2012, has distinguished himself as a force in both cable and broadcast television, leading FOX to five of its eight consecutive winning seasons and shepherding seminal hits like GLEE, “The Sopranos,” “The Office” and “ER.” Under his leadership, the network launched Golden Globe Award-winning comedy BROOKLYN NINE-NINE; Emmy Award-nominated and Golden Globe Award-winning pop culture phenomenon GLEE; this season’s breakout hit drama SLEEPY HOLLOW; as well as Emmy Award-nominated NEW GIRL, THE FOLLOWING and THE MINDY PROJECT.
He previously served as President of Entertainment at NBC, where he introduced such popular hits as “The Office,” “The Biggest Loser,” “Heroes,” “Friday Night Lights” and the multi award-winning Tina Fey sitcom “30 Rock.”
Reilly joined NBC from FX, where he helped redefine the basic cable business, branding the network with an aggressive slate of quality original programs, including seminal series “Nip/Tuck” and “The Shield” – which broke cable ratings records and earned the first Golden Globe and Emmy Awards ever for basic cable series.
Prior to joining FX, Reilly was President of Brad Grey Television, the TV production arm of Brillstein-Grey, where he shepherded the landmark series “The Sopranos.”
He will be inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in October. Reilly is an avid conservationist and is chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Nature Conservancy of California. He is also on the Cornell University Council.