Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Fox overhauls prime-time lineup

Network to cut back on ‘American Idol’


Terry Crews, left, and Andy Samberg in a scene from "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."


Fox Broadcasting is overhauling much of its prime-time lineup after a disappointing season.

The network, which endured steep declines in overall viewers and in the coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic, said it will premiere 12 new shows next season. Only two of the shows it launched this season — the comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine and the drama Sleepy Hollow — made it to next fall.

Gone are freshman comedies Dads, Enlisted, and Surviving Jack, and dramas Almost Human and Rake.

Veteran comedy Raising Hope and the musical talent show The X Factor were also shown the door.

“This past one was a tough one for us,” Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly said. According to Nielsen, not including sports, Fox’s prime-time lineup averaged about 5.9 million viewers. Last season Fox averaged 6.7 million viewers.

New shows weren’t Fox’s only problem this season. The juggernaut American Idol came crashing to Earth. Last week, one of the episodes of American Idol averaged just 7 million viewers. The median age of viewers for the show is now over 50. When it made its debut more than a decade ago, the typical Idol viewer was about 30.

The number of hours allotted for American Idol will be scaled back dramatically next season, to 37 from more than 50 this season. Reilly said he is optimistic that Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick, Jr., and Keith Urban will return as judges.

But the days of American Idol dominating the ratings are over, Reilly said.

“Idol is not going to come back as the ratings champion it once was,” Reilly said. But the network isn’t ready to throw in the towel. Reilly said it can be a “potent” show “for many years to come.”

The network’s new programs include Gotham, a prequel of sorts to Batman starring Benjamin McKenzie (Southland) as a young Commissioner Gordon rising up through the ranks by putting down the bad guys. The noirish Gotham also stars Donal Logue and Jada Pinkett Smith. It will air at 8 p.m. Mondays as a lead-in to Sleepy Hollow.

“This is sure to be this season’s biggest and noisiest hit,” Reilly said.

Fox’s other big fall drama bet is Red Band Society, a quirky drama about high school kids living in a pediatric ward of a hospital. Oscar winner Octavia Spencer plays a nurse in charge of the ward and the executive producers include Steven Spielberg and Justin Falvey, whose credits include FX’s critically acclaimed The Americans. Red Band Society is scheduled for Wednesdays at 9 p.m., following the reality show Hell’s Kitchen.

Fox will also try its luck with Gracepoint, a remake of the British hit Broadchurch about the murder of a child and the effect it has on a small California town. Called an event series by the network, Gracepoint will run for 10 weeks in the fall at 9 p.m. on Thursdays, following the veteran crime drama Bones. It stars Anna Gunn of Breaking Bad fame as the mother of the murdered boy and Nick Nolte.

The network’s other big move is relocating Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a low-rated critical darling, from Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. to Sunday at 8:30 p.m. where it will have a strong lead-in from The Simpsons. Fox also will debut the new comedy Mulaney at 9:30 p.m.

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