Fox entertainment chief Kevin Reilly has a self-deprecating take on his network's fall season, saying it "limped" into the New Year. But he said he plans for the network to pick up more male viewers and "put a little more Fox back in Fox."
Later, he joked with a reporter that everyone makes mistakes: "Look at my fall," he said.
Reilly spoke at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Tuesday, where he also said he expects Britney Spears to return as an "X Factor" judge and that his network's Tuesday night comedy block was a major source of frustration.
He said he remains confident in the quality of the Tuesday night shows, but that audiences may need time to find them. For that reason, he said, he will hold off on airing "The Goodwin Games," a sitcom in the Fox bullpen awaiting an airdate. He said the show may not debut until summer.
He also said he hopes the show's Tuesday night lineup can appeal to more men. The current lineup includes "Raising Hope," "Ben & Kate," "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project."
Reilly brought up his network's ratings troubles straight off, before critics had the chance. The network, which spent several seasons as the top-rated in the key 18-49 demographic, lost that honor to NBC this fall. Every broadcast network except for NBC lost ratings and viewers.
Fox's "X Factor" was down in the fall ratings despite the addition of Spears, who was supposed to inject drama and star power into the musical competition.
But as Reilly noted, the network's hopes look brighter in the new year. First, "American Idol" is returning. And Reilly has high hopes for the Kevin Bacon serial killer drama "The Following," debuting this month.
"The Following" is part of his network's attempt to capture some of the "intensity" of cable shows, he said. He praised AMC's "Breaking Bad" and "The Walking Dead," and said he bought an early script for the zombie drama when he was at NBC, though it later ended up on cable.
"The Walking Dead" was television's top drama this fall. Reilly said no network could air a show so graphic, but said he hoped to return to the says when viewers looked to Fox for edgy programming.
"Before there was cable, Fox was cable," he said.
He later told reporters: "The best of Fox makes noise. Some of that is being just a little bolder, a little louder."
He also praised "Wayward Pines," a limited-run series in development from M. Night Shyamalan he called "the closest thing to 'Twin Peaks' I've ever seen." He said Shyamalan has pitched several projects to Fox in the past, and that this one would be a high-quality production in the vein of HBO's films and miniseries.
He also answered a question about his feelings on NBC airing an episode of its hit singing show, "The Voice," opposite the premiere of "X Factor."
"It went in the file for later reference," he said, to laughter. "The score will be settled at some point. I don't know when. It's fine. That's their network, they're free to do what they want with it. But you know, slightly on the cheesy side? Yeah."
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