As part of the TCA Press Tour presentation for Fox, Chairman of Entertainment Kevin Reilly took some time to talk about the network’s current and upcoming line-up. During this interview, he talked about the impact that recent violent events will have on his decision-making process, as they go into pilot season, the status of the In Living Color reboot, how he feels the dual stories are going on Glee, why they’re pairing up Bones with The Following on Monday nights, and that they definitely plan to continue developing genre shows, after the end of Fringe. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
KEVIN REILLY: You have to absorb everything. We’re in the culture business. You are constantly monitoring cultural shifts, current events, shifts in mores, things that reflect society and, at times, we try to drive it. It comes with a responsibility. I don’t like to trivialize an issue by drawing a direct linkage between anything, but we take everything we put on the air with the utmost responsibility. I have a lot of sleepless nights. Since the early days of television and Elvis on Ed Sullivan, you’re trying to find that line. Current events and tragedy are all part of it. I think you can’t be reactionary and you can’t draw a direct linkage, but all of the above is on your mind when you’re making these decisions.
How do you answer parents and others who are concerned that the level of violence on television has gotten to be excessive?
REILLY: I run a broadcast network, which is still an enormous platform. It is now a part of a much larger tapestry and a very complex media landscape where there is access, 24 hours a day at your fingertips, on the web and on cable news, as well as all of the other entertainment and media choices, from gaming to television, etc. So, it’s a much more complex conversation. I think it trivializes it to try and link it to television, or broadcast television, in particular. We have a responsibility and we have an FCC license and we take that as seriously as we absolutely can. As a parent and as a participant in society, I worry about the safety of my family. Of course, these things are on my mind, but the conversation is a complex one and a broad one. I think the dialogue is important and should happen, and it has to happen in the broadest possible ways.
What’s going on with the In Living Color reboot?
REILLY: In Living Color is done. That’s not going to happen, unfortunately, for various reasons. It just didn’t come together. That show was a seminal show on television, and the bar was set at that level, and it just didn’t seem like it was going to reinvent the next chapter. I’m not giving up all hope that, at some point, we could reboot that. But, the particular one we shot is not going to be it.
REILLY: I don’t want to talk about what’s coming up, but I really like the consistency of the work. I think that the New York concept has worked very well. That’s a high-risk thing to essentially introduce another show within the show and define Glee in a more broad way, and I think it’s worked really well. Cutting back and forth has been seamless, and both worlds having been pretty dynamic. For the most part, I think we’ve heard a lot of good reaction from the fans. I wish we were able to program it more consistently, this Fall. We were on for four weeks, and then we were off for four weeks. That’s a pretty tough way to keep an audience engaged. With that said, creatively, we’ve heard pretty positive things.
Why are you pairing up Bones with The Following?
REILLY: Well, Bones is a fantastic nine-year-running series, and we have a history. If you look at our Monday night, not only was it the 24 time slot, but it also had Prison Break. We have always had success and a history of this propulsive, macho Monday, and it felt like a good fit. It’s an alternative. There are no other dramas on, in that time slot. There’s more female-skewing, unscripted fare. And right now, we have a big giant hole on that night. So, it felt like a great fit.
With Fringe coming to an end, are you looking to develop a new genre or sci-fi show, especially seeing the success of things like American Horror Story and The Walking Dead?
REILLY: Well, yes. Fox has never left the genre business. We’ve had some bad false starts and broken some hearts. It was great to finally see one through and finish it in a great way for the fans and to not leave them hanging. But, we’ve never left that business, and we always look for it. We set the standard, many years ago, with The X-Files. The Walking Dead is an extraordinary thing. I bought the script at NBC from Frank Darabont. I developed it. I loved it. I was absolutely at the bottom of the ratings at NBC, and I just was like, “Really, Frank? A zombie thing?” I thought it was good, but it was an early draft. And then, when I left and I heard it went over to AMC, there was just a lot of serendipity involved. It’s a great show.