Never one to pull any punches, Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly acknowledged Tuesday morning at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in Pasadena that his network — which fell from first to third in the ratings this fall — “limped out of this year,” before adding, “but we’re turning the page.”
Moving on to the key takeaways from Fox’s exec session…
* Reilly would like Britney Spears to return to The X Factor next season, although no decision has been made. “I think Britney did a really good job,” he said. “People remain fascinated with her and always will… Maybe people were waiting for more drastic displays that never came. But pound for pound, I thought The X Factor was excellent this year. She tucked in really nicely on that bench.”
* The In Living Color reboot is dead. “It just didn’t come together,” said Reilly.
* Though Fringe is coming to an end on Jan. 18, after years of waning ratings, Reilly isn’t ruling out another go at far-out fare. “Fox has never left the genre business,” he said. After giving shows such as Dollhouse and Firefly short shrift in the past, “It was great to finally see one through and finish it in a great way for fans, and not leave them hanging,” he said. “We set the standard many years ago with The X Files.”
* Reilly hailed the M. Night Shyamalan-produced event series Wayward Pines — in development for 2014 and revolving around a Secret Service agent who travels to an Idaho town to solve a mystery — as “excellent, the closest thing to Twin Peaks I’ve ever seen.” Described as a short-season offering with a beginning, middle and end, Pines and Blood Brothers (a period drama set at West Point circa 1861) will hopefully draw “movie stars and top-notch talent… who want to do television but are not going to sign up for five years,” Reilly ventured.
* The network’s underperforming Tuesday comedy block of Raising Hope, Ben and Kate, New Girl and The Mindy Project has been Reilly’s “biggest frustration” coming out of fall, but “I believe in those shows. We’re sticking with the block. I believe good work will eventually pay off.” As a result, midseason entry The Goodwin Games — which recently had its episode order cut back from 13 to 7 — may not air until summer. “If I thought Goodwin Games was going to be an injection of life to the [comedy block], I’d bring it on earlier,” he conceded. “Goodiwn Games is a nice show, but I’m not sure it’s going to improve the night ratings-wise.”
* Reilly is pleased with the “consistency” of Glee‘s fourth season. “The New York concept has worked very well,” he added. “Cutting back and forth has been seamless and both worlds have been dynamic. I [just] wish we were able to program it more consistently this fall.” As for the musical comedy’s fate, he said, “We’re going to negotiate now for the fifth season and beyond” — in part so that Oxygen can get the ball rolling on the next Glee Project.
* “The Mob Doctor, by the way, was the worst title in the history of the world,” Reilly noted in discussing Fox’s decision to not yank the underperforming freshman drama from the schedule but let it burn through all 13 episodes.