On Wednesday, "American Idol" starts a new and cheerier season. At the same time, however, Fox is still pondering the fate of its other music show, "The X Factor." Here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
PASADENA, Cal. -- “The X Factor” – the show Simon Cowell promised
would bring huge ratings – faces a wobbly future.
“We’re going to blow through the option date,” said Kevin
Reilly, the Fox programming chief. Instead, a decision could follow in the next
month, with nothing definite.
Critics had argued that the show mostly duplicates “American
Idol” – which made Cowell famous – and leaves both shows damaged. In the last
year, “Idol” ratings have dipped; “X Factor” has crashed.
Still, a bigger obstacle comes from elsewhere: “I wish (NBC’s)
‘The Voice’ would go away,” Reilly said.
Why not definitely ditch “X Factor”? In other countries,
Reilly said, the show is huge; “this is a No. 1 brand.” And in some, it dipped
and revived after tinkering with the format; he expects to talk to Cowell about
possible changes in the weeks ahead.
That comes at a time when Fox – which does an hour less than
other networks each night – is starting to be overcrowded. Reilly told
Fox has a development deal with Lonely Island,
the trio (Andy Samberg and two longtime friends) that made offbeat films for “Saturday
Night Live.” The results could range from the Internet to Fox or its cable
channels, FX and FXX.
Samberg’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” – fresh from its
Golden Globe for best comedy series – will add guest stars, including Fred
Armisen and former quarterback Joe Theismann, for the episode on Super Bowl
Sunday, Feb. 2. So will “New Girl,” which will precede it that night, right
after the post-game show. It will whisk the characters to a mansion party
thrown by Prince.
The traditional gap between the real season and
summer continues to fade. “24: Live Another Day” – a reboot of the “24”
concept, spread over 12 hours of airtime – will start May 5; it will sprawl
over the summer, as will “Gang Related,” a tough cop show that starts May 20.
For that matter, most of the usual patterns are
being broken. Networks often wait until May to make commitments; Fox will soon
have new 10 shows in the works, ranging from “Grace Point” (an American version
of the British series “Broadchurch,” expanded from eight hours to 10, with a different
ending) to a series about ancient Egypt.
And when everything is set, shows will have
fewer disruptions. “Sleepy Hollow,” for instance, is back now for its final
episodes of the season. “Next year, we’ll have 13 (weeks) in a row.”