Established shows kindle hopes for a fall feast

The book on Fox has long been that it’s a spring chicken but a fall fowl. Buoyed by “American Idol,” the network cruises from January through Memorial Day … then gets eaten up by Thanksgiving before the cycle renews.

But with “So You Think You Can Dance” emerging as a destination series of its own to join an increasingly stable slate of scripted shows, Fox’s fall may well be on the rise.

“Certainly, the goal is to have the most cohesive fall that we’ve ever had across the week,” Fox entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly says.

All but two hours of Fox’s autumn slate are devoted to veteran series, with “Dance” primed to make its fall debut after a strong spring-summer run.

“We’ve got appointment scripted shows on Thursday for the first time,” Reilly says. “We’ve got a reality appointment show with a passionate audience that mirrors the exact schedule we have in the second half of the season (with ‘American Idol’). We have anchors across the board — successful shows to get our nights rolling. We’re not having to self-start anywhere (except Fridays, with ‘Brothers’), and that’s particularly helpful in this day and age.”

Perhaps Fox’s diciest gambit is positioning sophomore series “Fringe” on Thursdays opposite CBS’ “CSI” and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” two highly rated dramas.

“They’re two powerhouses that saw substantial erosion last year,” Reilly says. “‘Fringe’ is truly an alternative with those shows. I certainly wouldn’t go head-to-head with ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ with another soap.”

The lead-in for “Fringe” will be “Bones,” which established a beachhead at 8 p.m. last season.

“We’re not looking to win Thursday night — we won’t,” Reilly says. “We’re not necessarily looking to grow off ‘Fringe’ numbers last year. But if we get into the night with two appointment dramas and get some traction, that will be a win for us.”

SPOTLIGHT: GLEE

There are new shows, and then there is “Glee,” the new show that feels more like a veteran.

Sneak-previewed in May after an episode of “American Idol” and promoted throughout the summer, the song-laden “Glee” didn’t need to be introduced to auds when it officially premiered Sept. 9, even though it still has that new car smell.

“We’ve been able to do a longer-range marketing plan and more of a grassroots marketing plan — almost a feature-film type of treatment,” Reilly says.

“‘Glee’ is going to be a young demo show, female-skewing. I know it’s going to have a very passionate core audience — they’re already speaking to us loud and clear — and hopefully, we catch a little bit of a break and broaden out.”

NEW FOR 2009-10

BROTHERS

Michael Strahan and Daryl “Chill” Mitchell are the sons and CCH Pounder and Carl Weathers the parents in this traditional sitcom that will air Fridays leading into “Til Death.” Strahan, the NFL’s single-season recordholder for quarterback sacks, has rushed unimpeded into the TV world, and if nothing else, “Brothers” figures to outlast Fox’s lone rookie sitcom from last fall, “Do Not Disturb.”

THE CLEVELAND SHOW

Greenlit by Fox in the spring of ’08, “Cleveland” finally makes it to air at 8:30 p.m. Sundays, leading into its ancestor, “Family Guy.” Creator Seth MacFarlane now has three consecutive half-hours on the sked, with “American Dad” completing the trifecta at 9:30 and making “The Simpsons” at 8 seem like a relative oddball.

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