Fox finds room for ‘Titus’

Comedy gets 13 seg order

HOLLYWOOD — Fox is revving up for a second season of “Titus.”

Web has officially picked up the 20th Century Fox Television-produced half-hour show for next fall, ordering 13 additional segs of the blue-collar comedy starring Christopher Titus as a hot-rod mechanic with a dysfunctional family.

Show, from creators-exec producers Jack Kenney and Brian Hargrove, has been a surprise success since bowing in March, boosting Fox’s Monday at 8:30 p.m. performance with adults 18-49 by 81% vs. what the net had been averaging earlier this season with the Jennifer Love Hewitt sudser “Time of Your Life.”

The “Titus” renewal comes just two months after Fox announced a fall pickup for “Malcolm in the Middle,” another unconventional midseason comedy from 20th that’s defied modest expectations to become a legit hit with viewers.

Success of both skeins represents something of a breakthrough for Fox, which until recently had been unable to launch live-action comedies. The solid performances of “Malcolm” and “Titus” are all the more impressive coming in a season widely regarded as the worst in a decade for sitcoms.

“We’re very happy to have the two biggest new comedy success stories of the season,” Fox Television Entertainment Group topper Sandy Grushow told Daily Variety.

“The entire ‘Titus’ experience has been enormously gratifying,” he added. “From the very beginning, we were proud of the fact that ‘Titus’ took some real creative risks,” Grushow said. “To be rewarded with a new hit series is about as good as it gets.”

Twentieth TV toppers Gary Newman and Dana Walden were equally upbeat about the “Titus” pickup, which follows the renewal of the studio’s frosh dramas “Judging Amy” and “Angel.”

“When we did the pilot a year ago, we thought we had something special. We never wavered in our belief in it,” said Newman.

Walden added that, even in the era of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” the combination of the right series and extensive promotion on the part of a network proves “you can launch a successful television series.”

Since its premiere, “Titus” has won its timeslot in key demos every week, averaging a 5.8 rating/16 share with adults 18-49 and 11 million weekly viewers. Skein has also proven compatible with its “That ’70s Show” lead-in, building upon the latter skein’s adults 18-49 perf by an average of 12%.

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