Fox this fall: Simon and Spielberg, but no "America's Most Wanted"


In previous blogs, I've cheered Fox for renewing "Fringe" and groaned when it canceled "Chicago Code" and "Human Target." Now the network has announced its fall schedule; here's the story I sent to papers this morning, after a group interview with network officials:

By MIKE HUGHES

As it prepares to celebrate its 25th
anniversary, the Fox network is dumping one of its first hits:
“America's Most Wanted” is being canceled, except for some
quarterly, two-hour specials.

“It's been an important show to us
historically,” said programming chief Kevin Reilly, “but we
haven't made money on the show for a long time.”

Instead, Fox will join the
Saturday-rerun trend this fall, following “Cops” with alternating
9 p.m. repeats.“America's Most Wanted” is trying to find a new
home, Reilly said; Fox produces the show and has several cable
channels, plus MyNetwork.

Information on other changes had leaked
earlier: Fox canceled three borderline dramas – “Chicago Code,”
“Human Target” and “Lie to Me” – and kept “Fringe.” It
is counting on two mega-shows.

One is “The X Factor,” with Simon
Cowell producing and (alongside Paula Abdul and others) judging.
It's based on a Cowell show that's already a hit in England. “We
have the star of the genre at the pinnacle of his career,” said
Peter Rice, the Fox networks chairman.

The other is “Terra Nova,” a Steven
Spielberg production that has people in the future making a
desperate, time-travel attempt to rebuild society in the dinosaur
age. It's an expensive show – 250 special effects in the first hour
alone – that's expected to have only 13 episodes a season.

Talking to reporters Monday morning,
Reilly and Rice also said:

– All of the “American Idol”
people except Jennifer Lopez signed contracts that include next year.
“Jennifer has a single-year contract,” Rice said, and the show is
trying to get her to return.

– There still might be a “24”
movie – despite the fact that star Kiefer Sutherland is going
straight from a Broadway play to the pilot for a mid-season Fox show.

– Both Deschanel sisters will be on
Fox this fall. Zoey stars in a comedy, “The New Girl”; Emily
continues on “Bones,” but will take some time off for maternity
leave. As a result, “Bones” is expected to take a break next
spring, being replaced by “The Finder,” from the same producer.

– Cartoons remain strong, with five
of them on Sundays. Jonah Hill's “Allen Gregory” debuts this
fall; at mid-season, “Napoleon Dynamite” debuts and “Bob's
Burgers” returns.

– “America's Most Wanted” was
partly the victim of the new economy for TV. With little room for
reruns during most of the week, Fox – like CBS and NBC – is
turning to Saturdays.

Fox had only been around in prime time
for a year, when “America's Most Wanted” – started by the
Fox-owned stations – jumped to the network on April 10, 1988. It
made a quick impact, on a night (Saturdays) where other networks were
fading. Now it won't quite make it to the network's 25th-anniversary
special, planned for April 1.

The fall line-up:

– Mondays: “Terra Nova,” 8 p.m.;
“House,” 9.

– Tuesdays: “Glee,” 8 p.m.; “New
Girl,” 9; “Raising Hope,” 9:30.

– Wednesdays: “The X Factor,” 8
p.m.; “I Hate My Teenage Daughter,” 9:30.

– Thursdays: “The X Factor,” 8
p.m.; “Bones,” 9.

– Fridays: “Kitchen Nightmares,”
8 p.m.; “Fringe,” 9.

– Saturdays: “Cops,” 8 and 8:30;
reruns at 9, with “America's Most Wanted” quarterly sepcials.

– Sundays: Football post-game at 7,
“The Cleveland Show” at 7:30, “The Simpsons” at 8, “Allen
Gregory” (new show) at 8:30, “Family Guy” at 9 and “American
Dad” at 9:30.

Spring changes include:

– Mondays: “House” moves to 8
p.m., with “Alcatraz” at 9.

– Tuesdays: When “Glee” rests in
March, there will be a four-comedy block for six weeks.

– Wednesdays, Thursdays: “American
Idol” takes over for “X-Factor.” Also, “Bones” rests
sometime in the spring, with “The Finder” borrowing the slot.

– Sundays: An animated “Napoleon
Dynamite” takes over at 8:30, “Bob's Burgers” returns at 9:30.