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By Suzanne

American Idol stars

Interview with FOX Network executives 5/16/11.

FBC PUBLICITY: The FOX 2011 Programming Presentation Conference
May 16, 2011/9:00 a.m. EDT
Joe Earley
Peter Rice
Kevin Reilly
Preston Beckman
Toby Byrne


Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the FOX 2011 Programming Presentation Conference Call. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session with instructions given at that time. [Instructions given.] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Joe Earley. Please go ahead.

J. Earley Thanks, Julie. Good morning, everyone. Thank you all for joining us today. Before we dive into the new schedule, I just want to remind you that you will be able to download today’s press release along with show descriptions, photos and other information through our Websites. You’ll also find a copy of the season’s ratings highlights, and after the presentation we will be posting the trailers from the new series that Peter and Kevin are going to present to the advertisers this afternoon.

We are just waiting for the last few people to dial in, so I will just stretch for time and share with you some of our key achievements this year. We are on track to win another full season, even if you exclude the Super Bowl. We will be the only broadcast network ever to rank No. 1 in Adults 18-49 for seven consecutive seasons. In addition, we’re going to win with a 21% ratings advantage over the No. 2 network, which is our second-biggest season advantage ever, and we are projecting a 46% lead over No. 3 and a 52% advantage over No. 4.

We’re also continuing to set records with the younger adult and teen demos. We will win our ninth consecutive season among Adults 18-34 and our 11th among Teens coming out of the season with a solid Tuesday comedy block of Glee and Raising Hope, the number one new live-action scripted series among young adults and teens; a winning Thursday night with Idol and Bones; and our first winning Friday lineup in years.

Hopefully everyone should be ready, so let’s get started. We have with us Chairman of Entertainment for Fox Networks Group, Peter Rice; Kevin Reilly, our President of Entertainment for Fox Broadcasting; Toby Byrne, our President of Sales; and Preston Beckman, our EVP of Strategic Program Planning. We’re going to get started. I’ll hand it over to Peter.

P. Rice Thank you, Joe. Hello and good morning. We have a lot to get through this morning. I know many of you are on tight deadlines today, so I’m just going to say a few words and then turn things over to Kevin.

Joe just ran through a few of our season’s highlights, which we’re really proud of. I think that success is a direct reflection of just how much television has evolved and how much more powerful its cultural impact has become. Whether in person or on social networks like Twitter and Facebook, fans are talking about television and engaging with it more than ever. With over 150 million social media fans, FOX is better at inspiring consumers and forging connections with them than any other network -- no matter when or on what platform they are watching.

These connections are unbelievably valuable for programmers and to our advertising partners. I think you’ll see later today that we’ve developed our new shows with that in mind. This afternoon we’ll be introducing advertisers to a number of new series: four dramas, two animated shows and two live-action comedies. So we’re really excited about next season, and we’ll talk about a few strategic moves, which will strengthen our schedule across the board. I’m going to turn it over to Kevin now so that he can walk you through them.

Thanks again for joining us. I look forward to seeing many of you this afternoon.

K. Reilly Good morning, guys. I’m not going to go through the entire schedule, but we’re just going to walk through our new shows. In the past season, we rejuvenated American Idol and we created strength across the week in a way that we’ve never really had before on the network. Idol exceeded our expectations. We’re actually up 3% in total viewers year-over-year and we succeeded in building our first comedy block in a long time with Glee anchoring the night and Raising Hope, which is this year’s No. 1 new scripted show with young adults.

We made the aggressive scheduling move with Thursdays, moving Idol over to Wednesday/Thursday. Together with Bones, we’re winning Thursday night for the first time ever.

We turned the lights up on Friday, a perennial problem night for us, with Fringe and Kitchen Nightmares -- making FOX the No. 1 network on that night for the first time in 15 years.

Next season, our goal is to replicate this success. We want to use the strength of this schedule to seed the new hits that allow us to be No. 1 or No. 2 every night of the week. Let’s start walking through the new shows.

The fall is scheduled around our new tentpole: The X Factor on Wednesday/Thursday. The X Factor is a large-scale television event. It’s helmed by the biggest star in reality television: Simon Cowell. It’s a massive show; it’s really fun. Our goal is to achieve the same incredible level of success, fandom and spectacle that The X Factor gets in the U.K. By the way, The X Factor in the U.K. last year was a 45 share and the finale posted a 65 share, and we’ll settle for nothing less. Obviously, those numbers are unheard of in the U.S., but if we can capture even a fraction of that audience, we’re going to have the biggest show on television.

Looking at the week, House is one of the top three dramas going into its eighth season, and it’s going to return to our schedule Mondays at 9:00 p.m. in the fall. It’s going to be paired with our new epic family adventure series, Terra Nova, which will be at 8:00 p.m. We talk a lot about Terra Nova. It is one of the most ambitious undertakings we’ve been involved with. It has over 250 digital effects in the first two hours alone, an exotic backdrop that we’re shooting halfway around the world -- in Queensland, Australia -- and a storyline that’s set both 140 years into the future and 85 million years in the past.

At the core of the show, it’s about a family and their journey back to prehistoric Earth to rebuild civilization. We love the cast. I think that’s the thing that’s really going to end up being the asset here. When you watch it, what you’re going to see is that it’s unlike anything you’ve seen before -- certainly like nothing else that’s going to be on the air this season.

So Tuesdays we’re returning Glee to anchor the night at 8:00 p.m., Raising Hope at 9:30 p.m. and in between will be a really special new comedy called the New Girl. New Girl is from Liz Meriwether, a young writer with one of those singular voices that sets shows apart. It has an incredible star: Zooey Deschanel. I think it’s a real coup that she’s coming to television. She’s been loved in a lot of movies, and she’s just poised to become a household name.

Liz took a pretty familiar premise – a girl moves in with three guys – and makes it all feel like the voice of a new generation. This is really one of the funniest, sweetest ensemble comedies I’ve seen in a long time. I think it’s the kind of show that both men and women will watch together, and will make a point to watch together.

Wednesdays this fall we use The X Factor to launch another new comedy: I Hate My Teenage Daughter. Coming out of this slot after X Factor we were looking for a sitcom that had a relatable hook, a female lead and a live audience. We wanted a sitcom to pick up the energy coming out of The X Factor -- and one that was, hopefully, very funny. In fact, we have found a very funny one that fits all that criteria, and that’s I Hate My Teenage Daughter.

We have Emmy Award winner Jaime Pressly and Tony Award winner Katie Finneran as two moms who were former nerds growing up who now realize that their teenage daughters have become the very same mean girls who used to pick on them in high school. At the center, it’s kind of a classic buddy comedy with laughs and a lot of heart. I think it has a really good dose of FOX attitude.

On Thursday nights we’ll have The X Factor results show and Bones to continue our streak of dominant Thursday wins. And Fridays we’re going to continue with the winning combo of Kitchen Nightmares and Fringe.

Cops stays Saturday at 8:00 p.m. for its landmark 24th season. We’re going to transition AMW next year into quarterly specials, evolving our relationship with John Walsh and keeping the franchise alive with quarterly two-hour specials.

On the animation block, The Cleveland Show will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and American Dad will wrap up the night at 9:30 p.m. We have The Simpsons and Family Guy returning at 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. We’re going to use that new hammock spot at 8:30 p.m. to seed another show: Allen Gregory. Allen Gregory comes to us from Jonah Hill. I’m sure you know what a gifted comedic actor he is. He’s popped in just about every movie he’s been in. What you may not know is that Jonah’s also an excellent writer and a very ambitious producer. Jonah told me when we first met that he grew up on FOX animation. He has a deep knowledge of it and he’s come up with a smart, subversive animated comedy about a pretentious seven-year-old facing the greatest challenge of his life: going to elementary school with children his own age. We already have seven episodes in the production pipeline. I’ve seen them, and this show looks really promising.

Moving to midseason, American Idol will continue our Wednesday-Thursday spine. We’re going to kick it off next season with a special premiere on Sunday, January 22nd right out of the NFC Championship Game on Sunday night, and then it will resume its Wednesday/Thursday pattern.

Going to Mondays, we’re going to move House back to 8:00 p.m. in January. It will act as a platform our new drama Alcatraz. You know, the name Alcatraz has such equity and mystery surrounding it. It’s probably one of the most recognized icons in our country. We build off the mystery of that infamous prison with an inventive blend of one-third procedural, one-third cold case and one-third cool mythology. It comes from Liz Sarnoff and J.J. Abrams, who worked together on Lost. It has an amazing cast: Sam Neill, Jorge Garcia from Lost and newcomer Sarah Jones, who I think is really special. It’s a pulsing new crime thriller with a really original hook.

Tuesday is going to remain the same, but if you’ve watched, we’ve kind of aired Glee in somewhat of a fall and spring semester pattern where it’s mostly in originals and we’ve taken a break in the middle. We’ll continue to do that next year, but next season we take that break in March for six weeks. We’re going to use it as an opportunity to create a four-comedy block.

Building out our comedy is our main goal. We’ve had very strong comedy development this year. We’re not committing to time periods right now, but with Raising Hope, New Girl and I Hate My Teenage Daughter -- which will be in circulation -- and a couple of projects we have in the development pipeline -- Family Album and Little in Common in particular -- we have five shows to assemble this block. I think it’s going to be a really good shot to get us exactly where we want to be with that four-comedy block. We will be sizing up those shows once we get a look at the way they’re shaking out in the fall and will announce time periods then.

Wednesdays and Thursdays in the spring we’ll have American Idol results on Thursday paired with our new Bones spin-off, The Finder. Hart Hanson, who created Bones, brought us The Finder. It centers on an Iraq war veteran who’s extraordinarily skilled at finding people and things. The show features Hart’s trademark light comedic banter with a very smart crime procedural.

We saw these characters in an episode of Bones last month and the Bones fans and non-Bones fans alike embraced it. It’s sexy and fun. We’ll transition to it midseason. If you don’t know, Emily Deschanel, our Bones co-star, is going on maternity leave, so when she’s on maternity leave we’ll bring The Finder in, and when she returns later in the spring, Bones will resume.

Fridays and Saturdays remain the same through midseason. Sundays, Bob’s Burgers will return to the lineup. Bob’s did very well for us this year and will come back at 9:30 p.m. next spring. We’re going to introduce a new animated show at 8:30 p.m.: Napoleon Dynamite. You know Napoleon Dynamite; it’s amazing how this cult classic has multi-generational appeal. It features the voices of the film’s entire original cast and feels like a natural fit for animation and a natural fit for our Sunday block.

Before we turn it over to questions I want to highlight just one last show that we’ll be talking about later on today. We’re going to schedule this show opportunistically, and that’s called Touch. Touch was a really extraordinary script, a compelling drama that stars Kiefer Sutherland as a father whose world changes when he discovers that his child with special needs has the ability to see patterns and connections that no one else can.

We’re shooting the pilot in June because you may know that Kiefer is starring in a Broadway play and he’s unavailable until then. The script blew us away. Getting Kiefer back to the network was really something. We got Francis Lawrence to direct and we think this could be really special. We’ll be talking about it and we will schedule that opportunistically once we’ve done it.

That’s the new product. Why don’t we jump into questions?

Moderator [Instructions given.] We’ll go to the line of Alan Sepinwall with HitFix. Please go ahead.

A. Sepinwall Hello, guys. What impact, if any, do you see the success of The Voice for NBC having on X Factor? I know they’re not identical shows, but there are enough commonalities in there that people may look at the new one and say, “I’ve seen this.”

P. Rice I think there’s always competition in television. We feel that we have the gold standard in both Idol and X Factor. Idol’s been the No. 1 show for many seasons now. It’s been rejuvenated this year. We think we’ll finish the season up from last year. Then there’s Simon Cowell, the absolute star of the genre, at the pinnacle of his game. We just shot the first live audition last week in Los Angeles and it’s amazing to sit there with 5,000 people watching these auditions. There’s an excitement, a buzz around the show that we’ve never seen before.

We had more people show up for auditions of X Factor than we’ve ever had show up for auditions of Idol. Now we’re shooting the live auditions in front of 5,000 people, and it’s fun to watch Simon tell the audience that they’re the fifth judge. There’s a whole other element there.

We feel really, really good about our two shows. We think that they are being produced exceptionally well. We think there’s a buzz and excitement from the audience for them, and we’re going to schedule them and play our game and feel good about being successful.

K. Reilly It’s extraordinary that 5,000 people showed up to that. Usually we have to recruit an audience for any new show.

A. Sepinwall Thanks, guys.

Moderator Thank you. We’ll move on to the line of Andrew Wallenstein with Variety. Please go ahead.

A. Wallenstein Hello, guys. Can you talk a bit about November and how baseball could be impacting the schedule but also how you might be able to use it as a promotional play?

K. Reilly I don’t think we want to talk through specific dates because it gets to be a little bit of a matrix, but in general, our baseball package now is really very, very manageable from what was once a 28-game package including all of the playoffs. We now have a 14-game package, with several of those games falling on the weekends. I think that really lays into the schedule in a pretty clean way.

Obviously, we want both the playoffs and the World Series to go to seven games. If you get to that it gets a little trickier, but that’s a high-class problem to deal with. Preston, do you want to chime in?

P. Beckman If you’re asking specifically about X Factor, we worked it out so that the way the show is structured, baseball will help it and it won’t impede the success of the show.

K. Reilly We don’t have any weeks where we have big chunks of games pushing out shows for three weeks.

P. Beckman We have to adjust The X Factor for baseball, but not radically.

K. Reilly Yes. Does that answer your question, Andrew?

A. Wallenstein Yes, but will you be promoting out of baseball as well?

P. Beckman We’ll be promoting like crazy.

K. Reilly We always do.

A. Wallenstein Thanks.

P. Rice It’s fantastic to have these big events where you have big, huge, broad audiences that come to your network, and you can use those as platforms to promote your other shows. We’re very excited about baseball and we have the ALCS this year, which tends to be bigger than the NLCS. We’re excited about fall, and we think we have a very focused set of launches that we think are noisy, shows that we think are going to create a lot of excitement in the public.

P. Beckman Ever since we reduced the baseball package we’ve actually been far more competitive in the fall, so we’re okay.

A. Wallenstein Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. We’ll go to the line of Joe Flint with the Los Angeles Times. Please go ahead.

J. Flint Hello. Two quick questions, and forgive me if one of them seems silly. With Terra Nova obviously premiering in the fall, I assume because it’s so huge there are only 13 for the fall. I mean, that’ll be it for the season? On that note, obviously I’m assuming you’ll promote this show probably like no other show we’ve seen promoted. Will you be extra patient -- if for any reason -- it doesn’t, I assume from an economic standpoint you’ll have to be extra patient regardless of its premiere. Then one quick follow-up.

K. Reilly Let me just break down all three components of that. First of all, as to the order pattern, I’m not saying that it could not return next year. We really would like to try to get two dramas in the slot. I think it’s likely with both a real estate issue on Monday and then the turnaround on the production that we would only do 13, but anything’s possible. I don’t think it’s prohibited that we can’t do additional episodes next year.

The biggest promotion ever? It’s highly significant. I don’t know that it’s going to be the biggest of all time.

J. Earley I think X Factor will be the biggest of all time because we started it last November, but it certainly will have a very healthy marketing campaign.

K. Reilly As for patience -- in general, we don’t like to make hasty decisions and certainly through the fall it doesn’t really benefit us to make any changes. Otherwise, we’ll stick with the show we do with most shows we put on.

J. Flint Thanks. A real quick follow-up. I know the Sports guys aren’t on the line, but what is your sense in terms of if there are no football Sunday afternoons? I know this isn’t a primetime issue, but what are you hearing from them about what they may be trying to do?

P. Rice I think they’re planning for there to be an NFL season and at the same time working on contingencies if there’s not.

J. Flint Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. We’ll go to the line of Joe Adalian with New York Magazine. Please go ahead.

J. Adalian Hello, guys. Two questions. One, do you want to say definitively that there is absolutely no chance that Terra Nova will be held for midseason at all? Are you 100% confident the show will air as a series this fall? Second, you guys seem to have cancelled America’s Most Wanted without cancelling it. When people had called a few weeks ago you sort of denied that anything was going on. Now it’s quarterly specials. Exactly how many have you produced? Do you expect another giant protest from John Walsh, and have you already planned on how to respond to him?

P. Rice I think Terra Nova, it’s a big show. Yes, it’s going in the fall.

P. Beckman It’s going in the fall.

P. Rice We’ve scheduled it. It’s a very big show. We’re excited about it. We’re hoping to preview it in May and we just think it’s the better thing to do for a show that has 250 visual effects in the first episode. But we’re very confident about it in the fall, which is why we’ve officially scheduled it and will air it. We think the show is going to be great.

That sort of big family adventure show is not something that we see on television now. That’s what we want on the air. That’s why we put it at 8:00 p.m., so we can sort of signal to families that it’s for them. We think it’s one of those events that everyone can get around the television and come together as a family. It has action, it has adventure and it has a multigenerational cast in it that is very good, so we’re excited about it.

K. Reilly As for AMW, we didn’t talk about it a few weeks ago because we were in discussions. John Walsh has been a very important guy to the network for a long time; in fact, it’s been an important show to us historically. It’s an important show for us; it’s been a consistent time period winner, but it’s been no secret to John that we have not made money on the show in quite a while. It was economically getting to the place where it was not really viable, but we wanted to keep the franchise alive.

John is important to News Corp. He’s having a number of conversations as to where that series could continue. You’ll have to talk to him about what that ends up being.

One other side note of that is if you look at our schedule, we are going to be in virtually originals almost the entire year across our schedule. We have very few places where we’ll be playing any sort of consistent pattern of repeats. For business reasons, we do want to be able to play off some of those repeats and give the audience a chance to catch up. This time slot is in a few places we can do that, and we’ll be peppering them in throughout the year.

So John performs a public service. We want to continue to do that. That’s what’s ultimately led to this decision.

J. Adalian How many specials will you be doing? How many will you be committed to?

K. Reilly Quarterly – four.

P. Rice Two-hour specials.

J. Adalian Thank you, guys.

Moderator Thank you. We’ll go to the line of Michael Schneider with TV Guide Magazine. Please go ahead.

M. Schneider Hello, guys. A real quick follow-up on the AMW question. Since the show comes from the station side, was there talk of maybe moving it over to MyNetworkTV?

K. Reilly There’s a lot of talk going on right now, and we’re not at liberty to discuss it. John’s just now getting into them. I would not be at all surprised if you see the show pop up somewhere else. That’s something you should follow up with John on.

M. Schneider The other question, real quick. Saturday late night, you guys haven’t announced anything. Are you still going to be programming there?

K. Reilly We always have an appetite for any air that we own, but if next season really goes the way we expect to see it go, we can really start turning our attention to time periods that we own that we’d like to improve things on.

M. Schneider It’ll still be encores there for now?

K. Reilly Yes.

M. Schneider Thanks.

Moderator Thank you. The next question is from Glenn Garvin with Miami Herald. Please go ahead.

G. Garvin Hello, Kevin. I wanted to ask a state-of-the-industry question. You know, NBC revealed their slate yesterday. All seven of their new shows from last year were cancelled. You guys didn’t do a whole lot better in those terms, and I don’t think that when we have the full slates from the other networks that we’re going to see a high percentage of successes from the new shows last year. Is something going on or is it just a down year and nothing much to think about?

K. Reilly Well, first of all, a couple of shows we cancelled were sophomore shows that were not from our freshman crop. We are one of the few networks that are bringing back a success from last season: Raising Hope. It was not one of the bumper crop years for network television. Also, Bob’s Burgers, too. So we’re bringing back two comedies, which was really a goal for us.

It was not a Modern Family year, but you know, for us, it was really about our success more than our failure, to be honest with you. I actually think pretty candidly that a couple of the shows that we had to let go because we just simply did not have the shelf space probably would have made the cut on some other networks. These shows had audiences; they were good shows. Ultimately, we could be more conservative this year, but we want to take the core strength we have now and seed in some new shows for the next chapter. We felt that we gave these shows a shot and we wanted to try some new ones.

P. Rice I think we’re in a slightly different position from some of our competitors. We’re ending the season having won seven seasons in a row. We have very vibrant franchises. We have a vast diversity of shows on our air -- from animation to live action to reality to drama -- and we’ve been very selective in what we bring on. We also program throughout the night, so we feel really good about Raising Hope being the No. 1 new comedy with young adults. We’re bringing that back and trying to build step-by-step.

You always have disappointment. You go into each of these shows hoping for the best and working with really creative people. We’re looking for things that can really have some cultural impact. We’re sad about the shows that won’t be returning, but we think we have a very strong schedule for next year.

G. Garvin Thanks.

Moderator Thank you. The next question’s from Chuck Ross with TV Week. Please go ahead.

C. Ross Hello, everybody. I have a question for Toby about the selling of X Factor. Kevin sort of joked about the huge share that it has in Europe and in London. I was just wondering if you could talk a little bit about if you’re packaging the show with Idol and what you’re telling advertisers to expect as far as on the share side when it debuts. I have a second question, too.

T. Byrne Sure. I think we’re very optimistic, as you can hear from Kevin and Peter, about The X Factor. I don’t recall in my 15 years at FOX ever having another show that had this kind of anticipation, including in the ad community. It has, as they said, the biggest star of reality television at its helm, and with all of that, we’re going to make the leap that it’s going to do very well and project an aggressive rating on it.

C. Ross I have another question. It’s not really exactly about this season at all, but you’d mentioned Kiefer coming back, and I know he’s on Broadway now. I always get confused because whenever anybody asks him about – and I know it’s not really your purview, but maybe Peter can address this – a 24 movie he seems to say, “Yes, it’s about to start,” and whenever anybody asks FOX about it it’s like, “No, we have no script.” Can you guys sort of clarify where we are about a 24 movie?

P. Rice I don’t work at a movie company, but my intelligence around the lot is that everybody would very much like to make a 24 movie, and I believe that they are working on the script. So when they say, “We don’t have a script” it means that they don’t have a completed script that they’re about to go and shoot. I think there’s a great desire to see Jack Bauer on the big screen.

C. Ross Thanks, guys.

Moderator Thank you. The next question is from Rob Owen with Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Please go ahead.

R. Owen Hello. Thanks for doing the call. Obviously, shelf space was always going to be an issue this fall, but I’m wondering what about Locke & Key ensured that it didn’t get a pickup, particularly given what I have to imagine was a pretty decent penalty against not picking it up.

P. Rice We made a number of pilots. Then we looked at them and we made choices based on our schedule. A lot of times they’re not made in the abstract of a specific show and its qualities. Kevin, do you want to talk a little bit?

K. Reilly Yes. It’s actually a cool pilot with good talent involved. They were tough decisions. I wish it were an easier decision to make, but it really just came down to we liked the shows we picked and they fit better. That sounds pat, but that’s really what it is.

R. Owen Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. The next question is from Hal Boedeker with Orlando Sentinel. Please go ahead.

H. Boedeker Hello. I was wondering -- do you know who’s back for sure as an Idol judge for next season?

K. Reilly Yes.

H. Boedeker Would you tell me?

P. Rice Not a follow-up! I mean, it’s very public. Everyone had a multiple-year contract. Jennifer had a single-year contract. She’s had a really fun time doing the show. We’ve loved having her on the show, and we’re talking to her now about her schedule for next year. Our hope and expectation is she’ll return.

H. Beaker Everybody else is back?

P. Rice Everybody else had multiple-year contracts, yes.

H. Boedeker Did you learn anything after Simon left? What did it tell you about the show -- that it could keep going the way it did?

P. Rice Well, first of all, it told us it could keep going. That was the first and last thing that was our focus.

H. Boedeker At least talk about the competition.

P. Rice The format is so strong that, ultimately, we needed credibility in the judges. We needed them to want to be there and to be entertaining, and we needed chemistry between them. And I think that they gave us that in spades. It’s been a fantastic season.

K. Reilly We were never looking to replace Simon because he couldn’t be replaced. Ultimately, we didn’t. We found a different energy.

P. Rice One of the reasons we worked very hard not to replace Simon is we knew we had him coming back in the fall. Again, having been at the auditions last week, there’s a perspective Simon brings that is unique. I don’t think you see it anywhere else. We made sure that we weren’t going to try to mimic that. Simon is a unique television personality, and within five minutes of taping this show the audience was just right there with him again. It was so fun to see him back. I think in September, it’s very refreshing to have Simon back and I think that both shows can succeed throughout the year.

K. Reilly The focus was the music and the competition itself. I mean, as great as the judges are and I give them a huge amount of credit, had we fallen down on the contestants and the music this year it would be a different story. Jimmy Iovine has brought a lot to the party in the way the talent was identified, the way the music is produced this year, the live numbers themselves. I think the results shows have been a full-blown hour of entertainment, so it’s really been all part of the package.

P. Rice One other thing that we’ve also learned is that Nigel Lythgoe is a fantastic, fantastic television producer. Having him back on Idol has been great. We’re very lucky because he makes Dance for us as well.

J. Earley Julie, we have time for two more questions.

Moderator Thank you. We’ll move on to the line of Sam Schechner with the Wall Street Journal. Please go ahead.

S. Schechner Hello, guys. I have a quick question about how the expanded sitcom block is going to work and how you’re going to build that. You haven’t picked up Family Album and Little in Common, but you’re committed to picking up one of them and you’re going to decide later? Forgive me – I just didn’t quite get it.

K. Reilly First of all, if you’re counting, we have five shows in the works and four slots. Three of them will be in rotation already through the fall. We want to size up how those shows do. We wouldn’t be announcing this block if we weren’t pretty damned confident in what we have working there, so we’ll look and see how we want to organize the block around it. Then we have at least two shows in those that we like a lot. Both pilots had very strong actors at the center, good concepts, some really good execution.

A couple of things you’re going to see us doing are maybe a piece of casting or a little bit of reshooting on them to be done. We want to do that work over the summer, and then as we go into the fall, look at which of those – both of them could make the cut, ultimately – and organize the block around that. So we’ll announce it with more knowledge once we get into the fall.
S. Schechner When would that launch?

K. Reilly March.

S. Schechner Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. The last question comes from –

K. Reilly I’ll just add to that, just to follow up, that this is a six-week trial, by the way. I think if it goes like gangbusters, which we hope and expect it will, that will inform our next season, but we’re not building our entire midseason around this comedy block. It’s somewhat of a protected trial in that we have Glee coming back right after it.

Moderator Thank you. We’ll go to the line of Kim Masters with The Hollywood Reporter. Please go ahead.

K. Masters Hello. I wondered if you could talk about all these comedy blocks. Every network is going for comedy blocks, so are you worried about the sheer number of sitcoms coming on to the schedule across the board? Why is it? Does it sort of signal that drama is just too much of a problem?

K. Reilly I wouldn’t say drama is a problem. It’s just the comedy genre got rather anemic. In fact, if you look over the robust years of comedy on television, I still don’t think we’re even close to where comedy’s been. Comedy was really usually the core of any network schedule, which is why networks would like to get back to that. It’s been shallow for a while. There’s a lot of good drama on across the dial on network television. There’s a lot of good unscripted on across the dial. The biggest franchises on network television are drama and unscripted.

So you’re seeing evidence now between the Raising Hopes of the world and the comedy success that CBS has had. NBC’s had some resilience. I think you’re seeing the genre really may be ready – and obviously Modern Family – to turn if you pop in some good shows. Just putting out a lot of comedies is not going to make it turn.

With that said, comedy is fragile. The most successful comedy in the history of television usually has started around the bottom and has been vulnerable. I personally would not want to be starting nights with comedies or throwing it in vulnerable time periods. That does not work well. CBS has had that block. We’re nurturing one. That’s why we’re doing this in a fairly measured way.

Frankly, we could have put more comedy on the fall schedule with the quality of our development. I think it would have been too vulnerable, so we’re trying to methodically work it in.

P. Beckman Also, comedy is a genre that repeats better than drama, so from a finance point of view, it can keep you alive during the summer as opposed to dramas.

K. Reilly It’d be a very healthy thing I think for television to get that genre moving again. I actually expect that it will this year, certainly on FOX. Thanks, Kim.

Alright, guys. Is that it?

J. Earley That’s it. Thank you very much.

K. Reilly Good questions. I appreciate it.

J. Earley Julie is going to give everyone the dial-in number if you want to hear a replay. Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, this conference will be available for replay after 10:30 a.m. today through midnight, May 20, 2011.
That does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for your participation and for using AT&T Executive Teleconference. You may now disconnect.

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