Fox shuts down TV movie division

Co. decides no room in telepic marketplace

Fox’s on-again, off-again, on-again TV movie division is off again.

After weeks of speculation, web officially decided Wednesday to shutter its five-person longform unit and shelve a handful of telepics in various stages of development. Marci Pool, exec VP of movies and minis, has departed the net, along with VP David Marko and three other staffers.

Despite an ambitious start in 1991 with the critically acclaimed Jim Carrey starrer “Doing Time on Maple Drive,” Fox’s movie division has never been able to find true success. Net brought in Pool in June 2000 to oversee a new attempt to focus on event pics, but even then, Fox execs never truly seemed excited about the idea of telepics.

Now, with longform divisions at all networks struggling for timeslots, Fox simply decided there was no room for another network player in the telepic marketplace — particularly at a net that programs 15 hours per week vs. 22 for the other nets.

“In the current economic climate, it just doesn’t make sense for us to maintain a longform unit,” a Fox spokesman said, adding that the net’s decision was “in no way a reflection of the quality of programming” coming from Pool.

Three pics produced by Pool — the high-concept “WWIII,” “Who Wants to Marry A Billionaire” and “Black River” — generated decent if unspectacular ratings, despite very little promotion. Two other Pool pics — “The Rats” and “The Glow” — have yet to air.

Fox still intends to produce a “Brady Bunch” spinoff pic in which the classic clan heads to the White House.

Last spring, NBC decided to eliminate its remaining movie night, while CBS cut back to a Sunday franchise. ABC has had solid longform success with a series of event pics.

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