Inside Move: Fox on latenight hunt

Jones among possible yakker hosts

Fox has taken another step toward getting back into the latenight race, as top-level execs from various Fox units — including broadcast cable and production divisions — met Thursday to discuss the net’s options for the time period.

Insiders said it’s still way too early to discuss concrete plans for the daypart. Launching a full-fledged nighttime yakker would take time and effort; net is focused on strengthening its primetime sked.

But Fox has long licked its chops over returning to the after-hours sked, where the net first bowed in 1986 with Joan Rivers’ “The Late Show” and last tried its luck with 1993’s ill-fated “Chevy Chase Show.”

Still, it’s unlikely a latenight series would bow before fall 2003. Fox execs, however, are considering testing a potential vehicle on basic cable network FX or on Fox-owned TV stations before moving to the broadcast web.

Fox would also aim to have a program test ready way in advance of a network-wide launch. Fox would notify affils some six months before expanding in order to allow stations time to plan their syndicated and local programming buys accordingly.

Among the names that continue to pop up as potential hosts: Orlando Jones (“Double Take”).

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