Hank Azaria plays Alex and Kathryn Hahn is Helen in the comedy ‘Free Agents.’
NEW YORK — Fox Broadcasting is calling on the hitmaking power of Simon Cowell and Steven Spielberg to sustain its standing with younger viewers, with one offering up another splashy talent show and the other bringing a prehistoric world to network TV.
Fox will also add four new comedies, two animated and two live action, along with another two dramas to its 2011-12 prime-time TV schedule, already anchored by hits such as American Idol and Bones.
Network executives, in unveiling their new schedule Monday, said Cowell’s talent show The X Factor would run this fall on Wednesday and Thursday nights, mirroring the midseason strategy it uses for American Idol.
“We feel we have the gold standard in both Idol and X Factor,” Fox Networks Group Chairman Peter Rice said on a conference call. “In Simon Cowell we have the absolute star of the genre at the pinnacle of his game.”
Fox’s other new tentpole show — the sort that, when successful, can get entire families to gather around the television set — is a far cry from Fox’s talent shows.
Called Terra Nova, the Spielberg-produced drama is an account of a family that travels back 85 million years, confronting dinosaurs and assorted bad guys. The show, which was previewed for advertisers a year ago, will debut on Mondays this fall ahead of the medical drama House.
In discussing the show, Kevin Reilly, who heads up entertainment at Fox, called it “one of the most ambitious undertakings we’ve been involved in” and “unlike anything you’ve seen before.”
Fox also will roll out four new comedies in 2011-12, including two animated series: Allen Gregory, featuring a precocious 7-year-old, and Napoleon Dynamite, based on the popular movie.
Its other comedies include New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel, who has appeared in movies such as 500 Days of Summer, and a comedy about single moms called I Hate My Teenage Daughter.
At midseason, Fox will introduce the The Finder, a crime drama about a former military cop with a special power, and Alcatraz, from producer J.J. Abrams, the executive behind Lost and Star Trek.
Fox’s fall prime-time schedule:
8 p.m. — Terra Nova
9 p.m. — House
8 p.m. — Glee
9 p.m. — New Girl
9:30 p.m. — Raising Hope
8 p.m. — The X Factor
9:30 p.m.— I Hate My Teenage Daughter
8 p.m. — The X Factor
9 p.m. — Bones
8 p.m. — Kitchen Nightmares
9 p.m. — Fringe
8 p.m. — COPS
8:30 p.m. — COPS
9 p.m. — reruns.
7 p.m. — The OT
7:30 p.m. — The Cleveland Show
8 p.m. — The Simpsons
8:30 p.m. — Allen Gregory
9 p.m. — Family Guy
9:30 p.m. — American Dad
Changes coming to NBC
By Scott Collins
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — Can women save NBC? The network is making a big bet that the route to its long-needed comeback will come through female-skewing scripted series, with a fall TV schedule that will include a Wednesday comedy block as well as 10 p.m. dramas every weeknight.
The biggest surprise from Bob Greenblatt, the former Showtime programming chief assembling his first lineup as NBC’s entertainment president, is opening Wednesday nights with two new comedies, Up All Night with Christina Applegate and Free Agents with Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn in an adaptation of a British series.
“It was a goal from the get-go to get more comedy on the schedule,” Greenblatt said Sunday. “I think it’s important to do it somewhere in addition to Thursday.”
Existing Thursday sitcoms such as The Office and Community will return next season, although 30 Rock will be held for midseason. Greenblatt added that he had “no illusions” about how difficult it will be to launch two new comedies in the 8 p.m. hour.
Another big move: Putting Prime Suspect — a reboot of the groundbreaking Helen Mirren crime classic, now with Maria Bello in the starring role — in the 10 p.m. Thursday slot. That time period has not had a drama since ER went off the air two years ago. Its lead-in will be another female-centric comedy, Whitney, starring Whitney Cummings.
Greenblatt and his team decided to save Smash — a much-anticipated Broadway drama a la Glee, starring Katharine McPhee of American Idol and produced by Steven Spielberg — for midseason, where it will be paired Mondays with The Voice, the singing contest that has earned big ratings this spring.
“The Voice, we think, is the real deal, and we wanted to do everything possible to not only protect it but to build it,” Greenblatt said, noting that the first season will wind down in June. “The idea of having it back on the air in September seemed a little bit rushed.”
In the meantime, NBC will use The Sing-Off, another singing contest, for Mondays through the fall. It will be followed by The Playboy Club, a music-laced drama set in the famous nightclub chain during the 1960s.
Meanwhile, the returning spy caper Chuck narrowly avoided the chopping block again and will head to Fridays, while Harry’s Law, another female-targeted crime drama, with Kathy Bates as a tough lawyer, will occupy the 9 p.m. Wednesday slot after the new sitcom block.
NBC’s prime-time schedule for the fall:
8 p.m. — The Sing-Off
10 p.m. — The Playboy Club
8 p.m. — The Biggest Loser
10 p.m. — Parenthood
8 p.m. — Up All Night
8:30 p.m. — Free Agents
9 p.m. — Harry’s Law
10 p.m. — Law&Order: Special Victims Unit
8 p.m. — Community
8:30 p.m. — Parks and Recreation
9 p.m. — The Office
9:30 p.m. — Whitney
10 p.m. — Prime Suspect
8 p.m. — Chuck
9 p.m. — Grimm
10 p.m. — Dateline NBC
7 p.m. — Football Night in America
8:15 p.m. — NBC Sunday Night Football
NBC’S MID-SEASON HIGHLIGHTS:
7 p.m. — Dateline NBC
8 p.m. — The Celebrity Apprentice
10 p.m. — The Firm
8 p.m.— The Voice
10 p.m. — Smash
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