Fox talking new Arsenio Hall sitcom

Fox Broadcasting Co. is in talks with Arsenio Hall to star in a new sitcom for Thursday nights on Fox next fall, sources say.

Fox Entertainment Group president Peter Roth confirmed the talks at the Television Critics Assn. press tour Thursday. Fox was one of the main bidders to snag Hall last season, but ABC paid him handsomely to star in a short-lived midseason sitcom produced by DreamWorks.

If Fox signs Hall, DreamWorks may co-produce the sitcom with writers from another studio, perhaps 20th Century Fox, sources said.

Also at the press tour, Roth addressed the failure of its newest Aaron Spelling soap, “Pacific Palisades.” Roth said the competition from the coming-out episode of “Ellen” and NBA basketball finals made it impossible to launch a new serial drama. “What we should have done is launch it with ‘Roar,’ ” Roth said.

Referring to “Roar” and its summer programming push, Roth said original summer shows were more economically feasible on Fox because it only programs 15 hours of primetime a week and less in daytime than the other webs. “We can concentrate our efforts and our cash where it’s important,” he said.

Roth also weighed in on the troubles faced by ABC Entertainment president Jamie Tarses, calling the media frenzy “obscene” and saying his advice to her is, “Hang in there.”

“I like Jamie Tarses. I respect her, and I wish her good luck,” Roth said. “If any of you held these positions and understood the stresses are difficult and enormous, you’d appreciate that what’s happening to her is really too bad.”

Separately, Fox announced that its new season would kick off Sept. 6, and it is reworking the sitcom “Rewind.” Two new actors, Milo Ventimiglia and DeJuan Guy, have joined the show’s cast.

The TV critics at the Fox press tour briefly erupted into anger because so few of the new Fox shows were available for them to screen. Roth said he’d rather have the final pilots ready before showing product to the critics.

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