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TCA 2011: Fox chief Kevin Reilly says he has 'hot hand'

To hear Fox Broadcasting Entertainment President Kevin Reilly tell it, his network's lineup is so strong that everyone else might as well take their ball and bat and go home.

"I feel like we're sitting on a hot hand this year … a real potent crop," Reilly said at the semi-annual Television Critics Assn. tour, when the networks parade their new shows to the media.

Although Reilly came off a little cocky, he's not bluffing about the hand he is holding. For years, Fox has relied primarily on the overwhelming strength of "American Idol," rejuvenated last season by new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, to carry the rest of the network.

But this time around, Fox has several new shows with good buzz and high expectations. "We're not a one-show network, we're a seven-night network," Reilly declared.

Fox's biggest gun for the fall is the American version of the British hit "The X Factor," which features former "American Idol" judges Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul. Cowell created "The X Factor" and has waited patiently for years to get off  "American Idol" and launch it in the U.S.

"This looks like nothing else you've ever seen before,” Cowell said to critics. Asked if "The X Factor" could do better than "American Idol" in the ratings, Cowell cracked, "You don't enter something for the silver medal."

Fox's other big bets for the fall are "Terra Nova," a big-budget epic about a family who time-travels from 2149 to the prehistoric age to try to save the future. The show, shot in Australia, is trying to be both science fiction and family drama. It has been delayed several times because of production issues, but Reilly said he is confident that the finished product will blow away the competition.

"That show is going to make a lot of noise," he said.

On the comedy front, Fox thinks Zooey Deschanel's "The New Girl" will finally give the network the breakout live-action comedy that its lineup has lacked. "Fox is going to have success in every genre next year," Reilly predicted.

As for the network's current top comedy -– "Glee" -– Reilly confirmed that a spinoff is still a possibility, but said that move won't be considered until later in the upcoming season. Although he was full of praise for the previous season of the show, he noted that the first half of the new season would focus more on the core cast and less on big-name guest stars. There is a concern, he said, about "guest characters interrupting story lines."

The big question facing Fox right now, besides whether all these new shows will pay off, is if Lopez will sign up for a second season of "American Idol." Reilly said there was no news on that front, and that it is a "complex deal" because of her stardom as well as the strength of the show. In other words, how much does she bring to the show, and how much did the show boost her career.

Fox also announced that "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane, who is already developing a new version of "The Flintstones" for the network, is working on a remake of the classic PBS series "Cosmos" titled "Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey." It is intended for Fox's 2013 fall schedule.

-- Joe Flint

 
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