Forget Multiplatform, Fox Bets on TV Shows

Bottom Line: It All Starts With Broadcast

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- At a time when marketers are increasingly curious about media venues other than broadcast TV, executives from Fox network said they intended to keep their focus on the traditional living-room screen, while launching new programs for the 2008-09 season in staggered fashion.
Fox will debut 'Dollhouse,' from 'Buffy' producer Joss Whedon, midseason.
Fox will debut 'Dollhouse,' from 'Buffy' producer Joss Whedon, midseason. Credit: Kurt Iswarienko/Fox

"While some of the other networks are focusing a lot on ancillary platforms in order to salvage their programming, at Fox we really believe the better our programs perform on the network, the better it's going to be on all platforms. The bottom line is this all starts with broadcast," said Peter Liguori, the network's chairman-entertainment.

Two new programs, many returning
Fox said it would unveil just two new programs in the fall -- one comedy and one drama -- and then debut a drama and an unscripted series in midseason and two new animated comedies in the spring. The two dramas come from proven hitmakers -- J.J. Abrams, famous for "Lost" and "Alias," and Joss Whedon, the creative force behind "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer."

Additionally, the network intends to kick off the fall season early by running two-hour premieres of "Prison Break," "Bones" and "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" beginning Aug. 25, along with a new fall drama, "Fringe," from Mr. Abrams.

Aside from "Fringe," which features a trio of actors who uncover a deadly mystery that may be part of a larger phenomenon, Fox will launch "Do Not Disturb" in the fall -- a comedy about the management team of a hot, hip New York City hotel.

Adventures with millionaires
In midseason, Fox will debut "Dollhouse," from Mr. Whedon. The program centers on an underground group that can adopt any personality in order to complete high-action missions. Meanwhile, "Secret Millionaire" each week will feature a different rich person who goes undercover in disadvantaged areas to find heroes and change lives.

Two new animated comedies are expected to launch in the spring. "The Cleveland Show" features a character from "Family Guy," and "Sit Down, Shut Up" follows a group of cynical teachers at a high school in a northeastern fishing town.

"Back to You," the high-profile sitcom starring Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton, was canceled. Returning shows include "House," "Bones," "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," "Til Death," "The Moment of Truth," "Kitchen Nightmares" and, unsurprisingly, "24" and "American Idol."

'24' times two
Fox executives intend to launch "24" with a two-hour "prequel" in November, before the program returns for its usual run after January. Mr. Liguori said the network was focused on adding more energy to "American Idol" after the ratings juggernaut slipped in the aftermath of the recent writers strike.

"I'm satisfied creatively, but not necessarily satisfied with the performance," Mr. Liguori said. "I can share with you and assure you that both the network and the producers really want to take a look at the show and see what we can do to inject it with new levels of energy."
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