Upfronts 2011-12: Fox set to win an eighth straight year with X Factor, Terra Nova, Kiefer and Zooey

Zooey Deschannel stars as the New Girl on Fox

Did you know Raising Hope was the No. 1 new scripted U.S. network series among young adults? That was one of the tidbits thrown out during Fox’s conference call with critics Monday morning. The network, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary next spring, is on a big fat roll. This is the seventh year in a row they will have topped the ratings among 18-49-year-olds–a streak Fox claims has never been equaled, although NBC sure had a hell of a ride in the ’80s.
This winning streak is likely to continue in 2011-12 with the launch of The X-Factor, Simon Cowell’s new talent opera. Fox execs Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly told critics X-Factor is already breaking records as folks line up for auditions this spring.

Fox has brought a couple of young stars from film over to their network, including Jona Hill, who is voicing and writing the new mid-season animated series Allen Gregory. The animated comedy (left) is about a home schooled kid heading to high school. and Zooey Deschannel in New Girl (about a teacher who moves in with three dudes). Fox also has a Napoleon Dynamite animated series set to launch in January. This cult classic has multi-generational appeal,” Reilly told critics on the line Monday morning.
The big show this fall is the one reality newcomer, The X Factor. Simon Cowell’s return is probably the most anticipated premiere of the fall. Rice and Reilly says auditions for the new series have outdrawn Idol.
As for Idol, all the judges are on multi-year contracts and will be back–except Jennifer Lopez. She’s on a single year contract. Reilly says talks are on to try and pull her back for another year.
Another Fox favourite will return but not until mid-season or later–Kiefer Sutherland will shoot the pilot for Touch–written and directed by Tim Kring–in June. The drama will be about a father and his son with special powers or observation. The pilot delay is to accommodate Sutherland, who soon ends his run on Broadway in That Championship Season (which my son Daniel saw on Broadway last week. He gives it a big thumbs up, especially after scoring Sutherland’s autograph).
Reilly says yes, Terra Nova, the delayed sci-fi opus from Steven Spielberg, will proceed as planned this fall. A new show from J.J. Abrams, Alcatraz, is also set to launch in September, as is The Finder, a spin off from Bones.

Jamie Pressly (third from left) returns in the comedy I Hate My Teenage Daughter, which will sneak on next March when Glee takes a six week break. Fox is looking art five comedies to squeeze into a two hour comedy black, with other hopefuls starring Mike O`Malley (Glee) and Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine).
Fox does have one headache on the horizon, but so does everybody else–a possible NFL strike.

“We’re planning for there to be an NFL season and at the same time working on contingencies if there is not,says Rice.

After 24 seasons, the network has canceled their oldest series–America’s Most Wanted–although they`re bringing it back as a series of four two-hour specials. “We have not made money on the show in quite a while,says Reilly. Four new two-hour AMW specials will air in 2011-12. There‘s also some talk the series could continue weekly over on Fox-owned MyNetworkTV.
Fox saved Fringe but gave up on Human Target, The Chicago Code and Lie to Me. Last fall was not a bumper or a Modern Family year, agrees Reilly, happy to return two first year comedies. NBC left all seven of their 2010-11 shows in the dustbin.
As for talk of a 24 movie, it will happen says Lee, suggesting the script just isn‘t there yet. “There`s a great desire to see Jack Bauer on the big screen.

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