As part of the TCA Press Tour presentation for Fox, President of Entertainment Kevin Reilly took some time to talk about where things stand with a number of their popular and long-running series. While he did say that the Jonah Hill animated series Allen Gregory was officially canceled, he said they still haven’t made final decisions on House, Fringe or Terra Nova, for further seasons, and shared some insight into how those calls will be made. And, although there will not be a Glee spin-off with Lea Michelle and Chris Colfer, Reilly said that show creator Ryan Murphy has come up with a cool idea for the show to continue beyond the graduation of some of the favorite characters, with them still involved in the series. Check out what he had to say about all the series after the jump.
Question: Last summer, you said that you would probably be making a decision on House by the end of the Fall, which has come and gone, and we haven’t heard anything yet. What’s your sense on that now?
KEVIN REILLY: I think we have just been avoiding it, to be honest with you. It’s hard to imagine the network without House. It’s not going to be like the pink slip goes out, and that’s the end of House. David [Shore] and Hugh [Laurie] and the whole crew have been very busy. They are doing great work. We agreed, mutually, to put it off until after the first of the year. Then, we’ll sit down and see where we are. We haven’t had that meeting yet. Obviously, we are talking, as we go, but we haven’t had the big meeting about what we want to do. We are going to size everything up. It’s no secret. Last year, we said it was going to be a close call, and it’s probably the last year, but we honestly haven’t made the decision.
When you do have that meeting, will that still allow for enough time for David Shore and the crew to wrap things up, if you decide to end things?
REILLY: Should it be the last season, it’s not going to be an unceremonious finish, I can tell you that. They are just really one of the best units of people I’ve ever worked with. They are so professionally, consistently, creatively tenacious. They are collaborative and responsible. Hugh [Laurie] is not only a great actor, but an incredible leader for his organization. It’s just really the dream scenario with that show, and that’s why it makes it a very hard decision, and, honestly, one that I hope we can make together, and I think we will.
If you do decide not to have it come back, could it jump to another network next year?
REILLY: It could, but that will be their business. I’m not even going to speculate about what that would be. I know there’s going to have to be a lot of deals. The deal structure would have to be reworked. But, it will absolutely have a satisfying conclusion to this season on FOX. If it’s the end of the run, I can guarantee you that there is no way David Shore is going to have the fans feel like it wasn’t properly capped off.
Do you see any options on House spin-offs?
REILLY: No, I think that time has come and gone. We talked about spin-offs, over the last number of years, but David [Shore] just never creatively found something that excited him. But, who knows? Maybe something will come up at the 11th hour, and I would always want to hear that. But, we’re not in that desperate place where we need to try to keep some vestige of it going. That whole team, for the most part, has stayed together, through the entire run of the show. It’s why the show has been so consistently good. They’ve always taken chances. And, it’s going to end strong this season. Whether there’s another season, I don’t know. But, we’re definitely not going to do some watered-down [version]. Could we go in and slash the price of it and do a lesser show? We could. But, we’re definitely not going to do that.
REILLY: I don’t know. We’ve done a good job of avoiding some of these big decisions until after this session. But, I do feel fortunate that we have some high-class problems, with that being one of them. First of all, the show was an exciting bet to take, and I think it’s proven that it was worthwhile. There were 14 new dramas on the network schedules this year. Most of them have come and gone. It’s the second-highest-rated drama. It is one of the highest-rated new shows of the season. There is a distinct audience that has stuck with it, that enjoys it. The perception of it got away from us, at a certain point. It was pretty obvious that the bar was set enormously high. Everyone kept saying, “Doesn’t it have to do huge ratings?” The fact is, if this is all we produce, we made money on it, the studio made money on it, the audience enjoyed it, and the show looked fantastic. It is clearly a conceit that people wanted to watch. They’ve had ample opportunity to reject it, and they didn’t. Who it seems to have resonated with, particularly, is the family audience. We’ve heard a lot of evidence in focus groups and anecdotally that the family audience really feels they can sit down and watch it together. There’s a show there to bring back. There’s an audience there to access. We talked, last year, in this session about how there were a lot of chefs in the kitchen, going in. That did make for a little bit of a challenge. The show was hunting for itself, creatively, through the season. I love the cast. I love some of the episodes. I love some of the ideas that were there, and I thought it looked fantastic. Creatively, it was hunting. So, we are trying to figure out, in a network that is pretty strong across the week right now, is that the best show? If we had more holes on our network, we’d be thrilled to lock that right in. Right now, we are looking at everything, with some of the shows that are premiering, and then we are going to decide very soon because it does need to get back into production, over the next month. With that decision, we won’t be able to drag our feet for too much longer.
REILLY: We will not be making any more of Allen Gregory. We had a great experience with Jonah. He’s a great guy. We’re in business with him. He’s got a live-action comedy with us, and we’re going to be doing more shows with Jonah. Creative content is challenging, no matter what, and animation is particularly challenging. We did not know, going into this season, where we were going to end up with The Simpsons deal. We hadn’t even really finalized The Flinstones. We now have both shows in circulation. We’ve ordered Bob’s Burgers beyond next Spring. Our goal, really, was to keep as many of the legacy shows intact, but we also want to try to continue taking shots with the next generation. Some are going to work, and some aren’t. But, I think you’re going to see Bob’s Burgers get to the next level this year. I feel that’s the next generation, already in motion. It turns out that Allen Gregory wasn’t it. I like what’s going on with Napoleon Dynamite. If you like animation, you should check that out.
What are you going to do with Fringe?
REILLY: We’re going to get the Terra Nova, House and Fringe people all in a room and hold hands. No. You know what? Fringe has been a point of pride. I share the passion for the show that the fans have. I love the fact that Fox, after letting down some of the genre fans over the years, put one on. I love the fans, and that they stuck with it and went to Friday night with us. It’s vastly improved our Friday night. We have a Friday night, for the first time in a long, long time. The hesitation in my voice is that it’s an expensive show. We lose a lot of money on the show. At that rating, on that night, it’s almost impossible for us to make money on it. That’s been the case now, over the last season. We’re not in the business of losing money. So, we really do have to sit down with that entity as well, and figure out if there is a number at which it makes sense, or will this be it? I do not want to drop the ball, at the end, and let the fans down. Please don’t start the letter-writing campaign right now. I can’t take it. I hope we get some credit with the fans, for seeing through a great show that they’ve enjoyed. I’m not quietly doing the soft cancel here. I’m just telling you where it stands. We haven’t even sat down with the producers or the studio. I know they want to keep it going. So, that’s another decision we’ll have to make.
What is the likelihood of a Glee spin-off with Lea Michele and Chris Colfer?
REILLY: Here’s what is going on with Glee: We are graduating the characters that are arcing to graduation. What’s come out of it is that Ryan [Murphy] and the guys have come up with a really cool idea. There will not be a Glee spin-off, but those characters will graduate, and it’s led to a very interesting idea that I think is going to really give us something cool to dig into next season. That’s all I can say about it now. That’s all I think Ryan [Murphy] is going to say about it, until the Spring. But, I like where it’s going, to really set us up in that Spring batch of episodes, and to set us up for next season. There will be no spin-off, characters will be graduating, and it will be a cool season next year. Lea Michele will still be a part of the show.