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'American Idol?' It's all about 'Dollhouse'

May 18, 2009 | 11:05 am

Elzabend

Say this out loud, to the tune of "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia:" "Dollhouse, Dollhouse, Dollhouse."

Fox's top brass held a conference call with reporters on Monday to announce next season's schedule. You'd think Adam Lambert or Kara DioGuardi or just the words, "American Idol,"  would have come up frequently in the discussion. Or maybe Jack Bauer and "24," which concludes tonight in an exciting two-hour finale.

Nah.

The press, largely in like with Joss Whedon, was fixated on "Dollhouse."  Word had already gotten out over the weekend that Fox was renewing the low-rated series that premiered with high expectations, but reporters wanted to know what factors persuaded Fox President of Entertainment Kevin Reilly to take another chance on it.

Reilly, who has always been open about his admiration for the popular TV scribe and director, said simply:  "This is a bet on Joss Whedon."

The series, Reilly noted, may not be a hit, but it is one of the top shows viewed by DVR users, and executives find that encouraging.

"It’s a bet on creativity," Reilly added. "You know how inspired Joss Whedon is, and it’s a bet on Joss. . . . That was a pattern for us that we liked, betting on Joss, and I think we’ll continue to see it grow into next season."

Eight weeks into his new job, Fox Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice agreed: 

"We think we can grow the show," Rice said. "The show became much stronger creatively during the course of the season. Joss feels very energized about it, and we believe in him as a creator. We feel he can build the show and grow in the new season and that Friday is a good place for it to do that."

So did Jon Nesvig, Fox's president of sales, who said that advertisers "love" "Dollhouse" and "we love having a scripted Friday night."

Reilly said that for him it was never a choice between "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," which was canceled, and "Dollhouse." He also didn't want to create a completely new lineup for Friday nights in the fall.

"I’d venture to say that if we put on new shows on Friday night in particular there would be a lot of cynicism — well, wait you’re creating an entire new night of television?" Reilly said. "Not to mention, if we had canceled Joss’ show, I’d probably have 110 million e-mails this morning. So if you have something that has a core that you believe is working, it’s better than taking a wild play."

--Maria Elena Fernandez

--Photo: Eliza Dushku Credit: David Strick/Los Angeles Times

 

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