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Upfronts / Newfronts

Fox Pares 'American Idol,' Eyeing a Smaller Show That Can Last

Two Live-Action Comedies Join the Animated Mix on Sunday

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'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'
'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' Credit: Fox

Fox is making some significant changes to its longstanding lineup, the network said Monday morning as TV's annual upfront week got underway.

Kevin Reilly, chairman of entertainment for Fox, said during a conference call ahead of the network's pitch that he expects tentpole reality competition "American Idol" to shrink to about 37 hours next season from more than 50 this year. While "Idol" will most likely return for two nights during the audition phase, for most of its run it will likely air for two hours on just one night, Mr. Reilly said.

"Idol" is returning for a 14th season despite hitting record lows this year. Mr. Reilly said "Idol" will never be the ratings juggernaut it once was but the network is trying to position it as a good show that can live on "for many years to come."

"It's not about turning it around," Mr. Reilly said. "That story has been filed."

Traditionally, "American Idol" is a fixture for Fox in midseason. But as the network looks to streamline and shakeup the format, it held back Monday from releasing its lineup for midseason.

The network will also no longer devote Sunday night entirely to its animation block, adding two live-action comedies to the mix next season. The returning "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and new sitcom "Mulaney," about a rising stand-up comic, will join the animated series "Bob's Burgers," "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" on Sundays this fall.

Mr. Reilly said in many ways this is a return to Fox's roots, when some of the most successful comedies, like "Married With Children" and "Malcom in the Middle," came out of Sunday nights.

Missing from the fall schedule announced on Monday is "Glee," which Fox previously said will air its final season next year.

Fox's most-anticipated new drama, the Batman prequel "Gotham," will kick off Monday nights in the fall and lead into "Sleepy Hollow," which was renewed early in its first season last fall.

The network's newest reality series, "Utopia," will air on Tuesday nights. Dubbed a social experiment, the show follows 15 people on an isolated, undeveloped location for a year, challenging them to create their own civilization. Another episode of "Utopia" will also air on Friday nights.

But one of Fox's core strategies for next season is providing "protection" for its new shows and comedies, Mr. Reilly said. A strong lead-in continues to be crucial even in a world of time-shifting, especially for comedies, Mr. Reilly said.

As a result, Fox will use "Utopia," which is expected to be one of the buzziest new shows of the season, to help boost critically acclaimed but low-rated "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project," which will remain in their current Tuesday timeslots.

Wednesday nights, which for the last several years had been dedicated to the "The X-Factor" performance show, will now be home to "Hell's Kitchen" and new hospital drama "Red Band Society." Fox gave up on "The X-Factor" after three seasons.

"Bones" will air on Thursdays at 8 p.m., followed by the 10-episode mystery series "Gracepoint."

In a bid for big live audiences, Fox will also air several live specials, including "Jump of the Century," where two stuntman will attempt to achieve what Evel Knievel couldn't -- cross Idaho's Snake River Canyon. A live performance of the musical "Grease" as well as "Pitbull's New Year's Revolution" will also air.

The network is holding several new series for midseason, including the dramas "Empire," "Hieroglyph" and "Backstrom," as well as comedies "Weird Loners," Will Forte's "The Last Man on Earth" and the animated comedy "Bordertown."

FOX FALL 2014 SCHEDULE

(All Times ET/PT)

MONDAY

8:00-9:00 PM GOTHAM (new)

9:00-10:00 PM SLEEPY HOLLOW

TUESDAY

8:00-9:00 PM UTOPIA (new)

9:00-9:30 PM NEW GIRL

9:30-10:00 PM THE MINDY PROJECT

WEDNESDAY

8:00-9:00 PM HELL'S KITCHEN

9:00-10:00 PM RED BAND SOCIETY (new)

THURSDAY

8:00-9:00 PM BONES

9:00-10:00 PM GRACEPOINT (new)

FRIDAY

8:00-9:00 PM MASTERCHEF JUNIOR

9:00-10:00 PM UTOPIA (new)

SATURDAY

7:00-10:30 PM FOX SPORTS SATURDAY

SUNDAY

7:00-7:30 PM NFL Game

7:30-8:00 PM BOB'S BURGERS

8:00-8:30 PM THE SIMPSONS

8:30-9:00 PM BROOKLYN NINE-NINE

9:00-9:30 PM FAMILY GUY

9:30-10:00 PM MULANEY (new)

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