KevinReilly_071408_A4U5172abrFv2 Credit Kevin Reilly for keeping his sense of humor in tough times.

 

The Fox programming chief was contemplating a question from a scribe at TCA about what he thought of NBC running Jay Leno five nights a week at 10 p.m. He thought about it awhile and responded, “NBC is the crazy ex-wife I can’t get away from.”

 

Reilly’s tenure at NBC ended a few years ago the moment Jeff Zucker decided to bring in wunderkind Ben Silverman (how’s that working out, by the way?), yet he smartly takes the high road when commenting on anything Peacock related.

 

“I give them a lot of credit for signing up Jay. It’s a smart strategic move for them.” He was quick to add, however, that NBC has struggled with scripted programming at the 8 o’clock hour going all the way back to “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," and having Leno at 10 isn't going to panacea for all that ails the folks in Burbank across the primetime landscape.

 

While Fox remains in strong shape as behemoth “American Idol” starts up tonight, and other dramas continue to perform well – “Fringe,” “Bones,” “House” – the live-action comedies continue to be a drag on the network.

 

Despite a renewal of “Til Death” – a decision that feels based much more on economics than creativity – there is little in the pipeline to generate much enthusiasm.

 

Again, Reilly used humor to deflect reality.

 

“We made a lot of year-end lists with ‘Do Not Disturb.’ Our comedy brand is the animation block, but we need to rebuild the live-action brand. It’s down to a low-pulse level. It’s very tough when you lose your blocks and protection. I give CBS credit. Their Monday comedies, like ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ are one of the best stories of the year.”

 

He added: “We’re going to be methodical. We’ve order five half-hour pilots. We’ll see whether one makes it on the fall schedule.”

 

– Stuart Levine

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