Tuesday, July 25, 2006

FOX loves us...or so they SAY

Editor's Note: Most of this article is just ROX Net PR rhetoric (malarky). But read the part about how they feel our pain when serial dramas leave us hanging.

Fox's Liguori: 24 to Air Continuously
In what may have been the least eventful executive session at the annual TV critics convention in Pasadena this summer, Fox entertainment president Peter Liguori answered questions from the press with significant aplomb, underscoring Fox’s continued status as the top-rated network among 18-49 viewers.

Not surprisingly, the subject of serialized programming came up, as it did for all network execs at these sessions this summer. Again, the focus was on offering viewers a sense of closure on series that are prematurely cancelled.

“I think all of us have to ask the question, ‘What do we do if these shows don’t work?’ Liguori posed, rhetorically. “It’s not an idea we like to think about going into a season. But frankly, we do have to have some plans, that, say these shows don’t work, how do we wrap them up, how do we give the audience some satisfaction. And I think that there are ways to do it.

One, we’d love to have an episode that does wrap it up….even if we did a conversation with the showrunner or creator, put that out online, and have text on it. I do think the audience deserves some closure.

And frankly, I think the industry on the whole, we all have to start thinking about that, because if, in fact, some of these serialized shows are cancelled, and there’s no explanation, there’s no satisfaction, I’d have fear for next year, when a bunch of serialized shows come out, will audiences now be really gunshy about committing to these shows?”Editor's Note: Some shows are just SO good that from the first episode I decide to commit to them, risk of abandonment be damned. But for those middle-level shows where I know there is a good chance (ie, they are scifi'ish) that I will be left adrift on the ice flow of a never-resolved cliff-hanger, I often tape them and then wait to watch them until they are picked up for a second season.

So yes, from the incredibly scientific research of my own personal experience, I would say audiences WILL be really gun-shy about committing to these shows now that we see WE are being asked for a higher level of devotion than the networks are willing to sign up for.

Acknowledging that serialized programming fares poorly in repeats, Liguori stressed that 24 would air continuously, as it did this past season, because, as he added, “you’re giving up a lot of momentum when you running repeats of your Losts of this world and your Grey’s Anatomies of this world.”

Liguori also expressed relief at the success of the network’s other serialized hit last season Prison Break.

First and foremost, thrilled to have a 4th quarter show get out of the gate and work,” he said. “Let’s face it, that’s job #1 for us here,” he added, addressing the network’s persistent challenge of having its fall programming interrupted by baseball.

Of course, what Fox session would be complete without some sort of prediction regarding next season’s American Idol?

We all prepare ourselves that, eventually, it stands to logic and reason, that this show has got to notice some ratings erosion,” Liguori said. “We go into the year thinking that, and then every year we’ve been surprised, awed, by how the show has grown. So I can only predict a little bit of erosion, and then keep my fingers crossed and hope that the opposite occurs.”

In related news, Fox also announced it has renewed both of its summer reality shows, Hell’s Kitchen, and So You Think You Can Dance, for new cycles.


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