TCA, Part 6: Fox with a full plate

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While ABC skimped through its TCA Press Tour presentation Monday, Fox had a full plate of panels for three of its new shows on Tuesday, including one for its revamped version of American Idol, with new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. Fox announced at the press tour its was renewing Raising Hope for a second season, announced a premiere date for its ridiculously expensive action series Terra Nova, and a return of a familiar face to So You Think You Can Dance.

Executive Session

– First was the executive session panel fronted by Fox Networks Group President Peter Rice and Entertainment President Kevin Reilly. The two defended their programming strategy on launching Lonestar and Running Wilde last fall, despite the duo flopping. But what everyone in the room wanted to hear from them is anything and everything regarding American Idol.

American Idol

– Both Rice and Reilly acknowledged the ratings for American Idol without Simon Cowell will likely drop some, but the two didn’t speculate on how much. They point out however, that Cowell’s new X Factor show launching on Fox this fall could make up the difference.

– Then it was showtime. The new Idol judges came out on stage, and so is returning judge Randy Jackson, host Ryan Seacrest, and returning executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. Both Tyler and Lopez talked about how excited they were to be judges on the show.  As for Randy Jackson, he gave a hint on who is going to be the mean judge in Cowell’s absence: “You’ll see a bit more of an assertive dawg, a little bit more hair on the dog, if you will. Fewer yo’s, maybe more no’s, less dawgs.”

– When American Idol season premiere is scheduled for Jan. 19, viewers will no doubt tune in at first to see how the new judges are settling in their role and the overall cosmetic changes being made to the show. The program’s second night is moving to Thursday at 7 p.m. in a time slot now dominated by The Big Bang Theory, which moved from Monday just last September. While there is no doubt Idol will continue to draw 15 or so million viewers a week, remember at one time this series drew double that number – and last spring, Idol was outdrawn for the first time by Dancing With The Stars in total viewers. Idol is still a force to be reckoned with – but its no longer the most dominant show on television.

Chicago Code

Shield creator Shawn Ryan is creator and executive producer of this series set and filmed here in Chicago about three sets of officers who battle corruption and the female chief of police. From Marc Berman and PIFeedback.com, here’s Shawn Ryan:  “The original concept was to try to do a police show in Chicago that kind of made the viewer feel as if they were in the police car with the cops. And it evolved greatly over time. It became a show that I realized I wanted to be about a lot more than just police officers. So police officers are who we use to look at the city and look at the intersection of politics and its citizenry. But it became much, much more than I originally intended it.”

– While it is terrific this series is shot in our fair town, this program could likely become the next Detroit 1-8-7. With crime and corruption rampant in this town, The Chicago Code may hit too close to home for many local viewers. And you can bet the person behind the Second City Cop blog (which yours truly definitely isn’t a fan of) already has a rant saved up and ready to post on the series’ premiere date (February 7) on how the series misrepresents Chicago police officers and how Hollywood does this wrong, and blah, blah, blah. If that wasn’t enough, Code is also up strong CBS and ABC lineups, especially later in the season with Dancing With The Stars on tap. It all adds up to a disaster waiting to happen.  Sadly, yours truly doesn’t see this show succeeding. Thank goodness Chicago is more successful when it comes to sports (except the Cubs.)

Terra Nova

What happens when you combine Jurassic Park, Land of the Lost, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World? You get Terra Nova, a new action series from Steven Spielberg about a family who travels back in time to save mankind. And if you think this is the next Lost – think again, says director Alex Gravers. This is what he told The Wrap: “This has nothing to do with Lost for one main reason: It’s so made for a massively broad audience, I can’t even tell you. Lost was for that great Lost audience. Terra Nova, more than anything I’ve done before in my life, is for everybody. … Everyone from my kids to a gamer to my dad will love this show. It’s incredible.”

In an era of cost-cutting and cheapo production, Terra Nova certainly stands out – it looks expensive, it smells expensive, and it is expensive – and on budget, according to Fox. Sources say the pilot may cost nearly $20 million to make.

Land of the Lost – you know, the cool Saturday morning show from the 1970’s and not the crummy film from last year – cost a fraction of what Terra Nova to produce. If this show is to make a profit, it would have to do very well in the ratings real quick. Fox plans a preview of two episodes on May 23 and May 24 (out of American Idol) and is on Fox’s fall schedule, along with X Factor. It’s a huge gamble – if it works, this may open the door for more projects like this on television from feature film producers like Spielberg. But if it  doesn’t… Get ready for a lot of reality show-knockoffs with screaming chefs and dull-witted women looking for love on TV. Ugh.

Other

Fox held a panel on new sitcom Traffic Light, which premieres February 8 at 8:30 p.m. (CT). The logline? Three friends try to balance their relationships with their need of freedom. Sounds like a real gut buster… Fox announced it will air a “preview” of Jamie Foxx’s new sketch comedy show after Idol on March 31 after Idol and then premieres June 9 at 8 p.m. (CT)… and the wild one – Mary Murphy – returns as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance on a regular basis when it returns in May.

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