Fox Shakes Up Sunday Animation Block in Major Schedule Overhaul

Fox Shakes Up Sunday Animation Block

Network to run live-action comedy on animation-dominated Sunday nights for first time since 2005

Fox will shake up its Sunday animation block for the first time in nearly a decade next fall, pairing live-action sitcoms “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and newcomer “Mulaney” on the night with “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.”

Suffering ratings declines due to an over reliance on aging warhorse “American Idol” and the now-canceled singing contest “The X Factor,” Fox said it would introduce new shows on nearly every night of the week for the 2014-15 TV season. The network formally unveils its new lineup today at New York’s Beacon Theater. (FULL SCHEDULE POSTED BELOW)

Kevin Reilly, Fox’s chairman of entertainment, has articulated a strategy of being nimbler in the decision to order series, rather than relying solely on pilots produced in the traditional spring development season. And he has set in motion a year-round schedule of originals that calls for Fox to regularly air limited series that have big ideas and names at their center. A recent example: Fox’s decision to revive spy-serial favorite “24” this month as an “event” series with a 12-episode order.

In overhauling its schedule, Fox will break with many of its established conventions. Tuesday nights, devoted solely to comedies in recent seasons, will be split between comedy and an eyebrow-raising reality concept. The network will have two of its cooking-competition programs – “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Masterchef Junior” – on the air in the same part of the season. And Fox will run live-action series on Sunday nights, which has since 2005 been devoted only to animated programming.

Fox has canceled “Dads,” “Enlisted,” “Rake,” ‘Surviving Jack,” “Raising Hope” and “Almost Human,” while veteran animated comedy “American Dad:” is moving to Time Warner’s TBS. “Sleepy Hollow,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” “New Girl,” “The Mindy Project,” “The Following,” “American Idol,” “Bones,” “Hell’s Kitchen,”  “Glee,” “Masterchef Junior,” “The Simpsons, “Family Guy,” “Bob’s Burgers” and “So You Think You Can Dance” will all return to the schedule.

The network, owned by 21st Century Fox, will pair a new program with familiar fare on every night of the week, except Saturday, when it regularly airs sports programming.

Gotham’ To Launch Mondays

On Mondays, that means it will launch the much-anticipated Batman prequel “Gotham” with “Sleepy Hollow,” a drama introduced last season that has gained some traction. On Tuesdays, Fox will leave two comedies that have called that evening home – “New Girl” at 9 p.m. and “The Mindy Project” at 9:30 p.m. – in their old roosts. At 8 p.m., however, Fox will launch “Utopia,” an unscripted series that challenges 15 Americans to move to an isolated, undeveloped location for a year and carve out their own civilization. A new hour of “Utopia” will also air for several Friday nights at 9 p.m., so that viewers can get to know the contestants in the show more quickly, a Fox spokeswoman said.

Wednesdays in the fall once served as home to “The X Factor,” but now will play host to the long-running “Hell’s Kitchen” at 8 p.m,. and new entry “Red Band Society” at 9 p.m. The unconventional drama, from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, will focus on a group of teenagers who meet as patients in a Los Angeles pediatric ward.

Thursdays will kick off at 8 p.m. with another season of the reliable procedural drama “Bones.” At 9 p.m., the network will launch “Gracepoint,” one of the so-called shorter-run “event series” that are a cornerstone of Reilly’s programming strategy. The drama will run just 10 episodes and focus on a murder in a small seaside California town, where a media frenzy spurred by the homicide upends the lives of a sprawling cast of characters. Fox said “Masterchef Junior” would debut in the fall on Fridays at 8 p.m.

Radical Sunday Shift

The most radical reworking of the network’s schedule may well be found on Sunday nights. where Fox has for about eight years run only animated programs. The evening has been anchored by “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy,” but has also served as home to “The Cleveland Show,” “Allen Gregory,” “King of the Hill” and a cartoon version of the offbeat movie “Napoleon Dynamite.”

While “Simpsons,” “Family Guy” and “Bob’s Burgers” will all return to the evening, Fox will import “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” a freshman comedy that launched on Tuesdays, to the evening at 8:30 p.m., following the wrap up of a late-afternoon football broadcast, “Bob’s Burgers” and “The Simpsons. A new sitcom, “Mulaney,” will air at 9:30 p.m. following an episode of “Family Guy” at 9 p.m.

“Mulaney” stars writer and performer John Mulaney as a comic trying to take his career to the next level. Executive produced by Mulaney and Lorne Michaels, the series will also star Martin Short, Elliott Gould and “Saturday Night Live’s” Nasim Pedrad.

Ambitious Midseason Slate

Fox also unveiled an ambitious slate of midseason replacements, which consist of three dramas, one limited series and three comedies.

Empire” will focus on the head of a music empire whose three sons and ex-wife all battle for his throne – all set to an original soundtrack written and produced by hip-hop hitmaker Timbaland. Terrence Howard and  Taraji P. Henson will star. In “Hieroglyph,” a thief in ancient Egypt is called upon to serve the Pharoh and help prevent the downfall of one of history’s great civilizations. In “Backstrom,” created  and executive-produced by “Bones'” Hart Hanson, Rainn Wilson plays an offensive but brilliant detective who is brought back from exile to run  the Portland Police Bureau’s Special Crimes Unit.

A new 10-episode limited series, “Wayward Pines” is from M. Night Shyamalan, and will star Matt Dillon as a Secret Service agent trying to find two missing federal agents in the strange Idaho town of the title.

“Weird Loners” is a new comedy about four single 30-something underdogs who form an unlikely bond i a townhouse in the New York City borough of Queens.  “The Last Man on Earth” is created by Will Forte, who also stars. It is a comedic chronicle of the adventures of the last man on earth. “Bordertown” is a new animated comedy from Mark Hentemann and Seth MacFarlane of “Family Guy,” and will take a satirical look at the cultural shifts in America by centering on two different families living in a fictional Southwest desert town on the border of the United States and Mexico.

The network’s initial primetime schedule follows:

 

FOX FALL 2014 SCHEDULE

(All Times ET/PT)

 

MONDAY

8:00-9:00 PM                          GOTHAM (new)

9:00-10:00 PM                        SLEEPY HOLLOW

 

TUESDAY

8:00-9:00 PM                          UTOPIA (new)

9:00-9:30 PM                          NEW GIRL

9:30-10:00 PM                        THE MINDY PROJECT

 

WEDNESDAY

8:00-9:00 PM                          HELL’S KITCHEN

9:00-10:00 PM                        RED BAND SOCIETY (new)

 

THURSDAY

8:00-9:00 PM                          BONES

9:00-10:00 PM                        GRACEPOINT (new)

 

FRIDAY

8:00-9:00 PM                          MASTERCHEF JUNIOR

9:00-10:00 PM                        UTOPIA (new)

 

SATURDAY

7:00-10:30 PM                        FOX SPORTS SATURDAY

 

SUNDAY

7:00-7:30 PM                          NFL Game

7:30-8:00 PM                          BOB’S BURGERS

8:00-8:30 PM                          THE SIMPSONS

8:30-9:00 PM                          BROOKLYN NINE-NINE

9:00-9:30 PM                          FAMILY GUY

9:30-10:00 PM                        MULANEY (new)

 

 

 

 

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  1. Sammy says:

    I’d like to add to Kevin‘s comment “Screw FOX” and don’t forget to screw Kevin Reilly. Some of the best shows haven been cancelled by fox and its league of extraordinary idiots: Tru Calling, 24, Family Guy twice, Brimstone, Terminator TSCC, Futurama, and many many more. I just wish that everyone especially directors / writers would refuse to do any business with these guys. Good riddance to Kevin Reilly. Cancelled TSCC in favor of Dollhouse which was decent and cancelled Dollhouse a couple of months later. You really should’ve fired his mule (arse) a long time ago. RIP TSCC (2007-2009)

  2. Sammy says:

    I’d like to add to Kevin‘s comment “Screw FOX” and don’t forget to screw Kevin Reilly. Some of the best shows haven been cancelled by fox and its league of extraordinary idiots: Tru Calling, 24, Family Guy twice, Brimstone, Terminator TSCC, Futurama, and many many more. I just wish that everyone especially directors / writers would refuse to do any business with these guys. Good riddance to Kevin Reilly. Cancelled TSCC in favor of Dollhouse which was decent and cancelled Dollhouse a couple of months later. You really should’ve fired his mule (arse).

  3. Kevin says:

    This utterly nit-witted programming blunder certainly isn’t the first time that moronic FOX execs have committed the cardinal sin of taking a hammer to their longest running and most wildly popular block
    of shows on their network to date-the animated juggernaut currently tagged “Animation Domination”.
    Without fail, this four-way train wreck always ends with the immediate restoration of their iconic as well as signature cartoon monuments-even though there have been occasional duds like “Allen Gregory” a couple of seasons back.
    Anyone recall a relatively decent live-action sitcom from 2007 called “The War at Home”? Michael Rap-
    aport was a fed-up dad doing a narrative shout-out to the audience on subjects like why he wished that it was possible to go back in time so that he could kick his young self’s dumb ass for not using rubbers. And then there was this pretty decent ensemble sitcom a few years ago-I think it had a one word title like “Unhooked”-in which Rashida Jones played this obviously attractive, really sweet, single chick with
    a couple of guy buddies, who were also unhappily divorced, and they all somehow inevitably ended up
    with the ultimate, wacko blind dates from hell. Kudos to anyone who does remember or even managed
    to catch either of those shows. I was able to purchase the DVD set of the complete series of “The War at Home” a couple of years ago at Big Lots for three bucks. Talk about a “gonga” bargain, man.
    Here’s a thought. Rather than let the sterling ratings and awards cred of a sophomore live-action sit- com like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” be trashed at the whim of totally clueless and delusionally self-absorbed
    corporate “Jabbas”, surrounded by their ever-validating, sniveling little “Salacious Crumb” kiss-asses, simply turn their entire comedy division-both animated and live-action-over to Seth MacFarlane. Who
    better to put in charge than a literal one-man comedy and fantasy cottage industry who is a freak-of-
    nature fusion with the combined creative genius of Mel Brooks, Matt Groening, Steven Spielberg and
    George Lucas? He resurrected “Cosmos” and it’s frickin’ awesome! And where-genetically speaking-did the gazillion Mel Blanc-style voice impersonations and the Frank Sinatra-esque crooning come from?
    On second thought, screw FOX! Seth needs to start about two or three of his own TV networks to fill
    up with his out-of-this-world, mad-crazy imagination. Clearly this guy is a “Roger” in disguise.

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