NBC's one breakout
Mr. Reilly has developed a reputation for devising shows that draw lots of critical buzz -- and the well-to-do, upper-income viewers who enjoy those programs. His last season at NBC included the debuts of a host of programs that the critics initially praised -- "Friday Night Lights," "Kidnapped," "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and "Heroes." But few survived and "Heroes" is seen as NBC's one breakout from the recently ended season.
NBC and Mr. Reilly parted ways when Ben Silverman, the much-buzzed-about head of the Reveille production studio, agreed to come on board.
At Fox, Mr. Reilly will report to Mr. Liguori, who will now become chairman and expand his duties to overseeing programming on a variety of emerging-media platforms. The two have a history working together, with Mr. Reilly serving as president of entertainment at News Corp. cable outlet FX while Mr. Liguori was its president-CEO. Between 2000 and 2003, the two helped develop programs such as "The Shield" and "Nip/Tuck" -- shows that incorporated adult subjects and complex protagonists into their plot lines.
Mr. Reilly was NBC's president of entertainment from 2004 to 2007, while Mr. Liguori has been president of entertainment for Fox since March 2005, when he replaced Gail Berman after she departed for the movie business. Once known for tabloid-type fare such as "Married ... With Children" and "Herman's Head," Fox has broadened its scope, thanks to its success with the family-oriented phenomenon "American Idol" and dramas such as "24" and "House." Mr. Liguori had helmed FX since 1998.
In a statement, Peter Chernin, News Corp.'s chief operating officer, said Mr. Liguori approached him about the idea of working with Mr. Reilly. Mr. Liguori said he would take "a role that requires more long-term strategic vision" at a time when many broadcast networks are finding that they must expand their reach beyond just TV.
Earlier today, News Corp. named Dana Walden and Gary Newman to chairmen of Twentieth Century Fox Television studio. Ms. Walden and Mr. Newman had been presidents of the operation since 1999, and their elevation was seen as a sort of promotion to help make way for Mr. Reilly's arrival.
The Fox pairing echoes one put in place over at NBC, where Mr. Silverman is partnered with Marc Graboff, an NBC executive who is seen as having more financial and business discipline.