The Fox network appears to be taking a break from reality.
The network’s primetime schedule for the fall and next spring, released this week, contains five new dramas and two new comedies, but no new reality shows. In fact, American Idol is the only non-scripted show on the network’s regular schedule.
Fox president of entertainment Peter Liguori said in a media conference call that the lack of reality wasn’t a deliberate decision, but was the result of having several strong new scripted series.
“No conscious move away from reality. A 100 percent conscious move to put forward the best possible schedule,” Liguori said. “I have to tip my hat to the development guys for bringing forth new series that are incredibly strong.”
However, this is also the network that brought us shows like Forever Eden and Playing it Straight – then left us dangling when the shows proved not popular enough – so perhaps a reality-free fall season isn’t such a bad idea.
Liguori said Fox crafted its schedule to be balanced -- by having a mix of comedies, dramas and reality shows -- and stable. He also said the network is aiming at the 18-34 demographic (the same demographic that advertisers love).
American Idol will return next winter, and Liguori said the network will move some shows around to provide a strong lead-in to Idol.
Liguori also said the network has new episodes of Nanny 911, The Simple Life and Trading Spouses – all shows in the reality genre – to use on a “guerilla basis” to fill in scheduling gaps.
While Fox’s fall and spring schedule has little reality, its summer schedule contains five new reality shows: Hell’s Kitchen, debuting May 30; The Inside, starting June 8; Renovate My Family on June 30; Princess of Malibu on July 10; and So You Think You Can Dance premiering July 20.
Fox is also preparing to launch a reality TV channel on cable.
On a non-reality note, Fox is moving the critically-acclaimed Arrested Development to Monday nights at 8 p.m. There were rumors the show was in danger of being axed, as it’s one of those shows the critics love and the public hasn’t quite caught on to. But Liguori said Fox is willing to give it more time to find its audience.
“It’s a really good show. We love it. We love it creatively. We think by putting it on a new time period that the show has potential for growth,” Liguori said. “The show is terrific, it’s funny, it’s unique in the marketplace."