Fox in search of stability

Net unveils lineups for fall, post-January

Ending the season as primetime’s top adults 18-49 destination, Fox hopes to maintain its demo crown by preaching stability.

Announcing Fox’s fall schedule Thursday to advertisers at New York’s City Center, entertainment prexy Peter Liguori said the net was still getting used to its Nielsen standings.

“We don’t know what it’s like to be No. 1,” he told reporters earlier in the day. “We feel it’s exciting and daunting at the same time. We want to build on our success.”

Loading up on laughs

Liguori also stressed the net’s commitment to comedy. Fox is programming 12 laffers in primetime, more than any other net.

“We are known for making daring swings at the comedy plate,” he said. “We also have some of the longest-running comedies on TV now — that breeds confidence. Writers, agents and producers know the difference between a Fox comedy and those that appear on other networks.”

Returning critical darling “Arrested Development” moves to Mondays this fall.

“We love it creatively,” he said. “By putting it on a new time period, we thought it had the potential to grow.”

In a contrast to last year’s Fox upfront, in which the net announced three different schedules and constant scheduling changes, net unveiled just two lineups: One for fall, and the other for post-January (Daily Variety, May 19).

Going with the flow

The two-sked announcement was the latest attempt by the net to explain how it will maneuver around October’s baseball playoffs and World Series. Without the Summer Olympics as competish, Liguori said he expected more flow for the net from summer into fall, allowing the net to get sampling for new shows before the baseball preemptions.

“(This schedule) takes maximum advantage of two promotional drivers, Major League Baseball and our ‘crown jewel,’ ‘American Idol,'” he said. “This is our most stable schedule ever. We’re bringing back returning series every night, paired with new shows.”

What the schedule doesn’t include, for the first time in several years, is any reality presence (other than Saturday’s long-running “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted” franchises).

“Last year the schedule had a lot of reality on it,” Liguori said. “We go to the scheduling room just like a football general manager goes to the draft room. You draft the best available shows.”

Still, unscripted skeins “Nanny 911” and “Trading Spouses” are on the bench and available for duty, as is unconventional new comedy “Free Birds.”

New skeins include dramas “Prison Break,” “Bones,” “Head Cases,” “Reunion” and “The Gate” (formerly known as “Deviant Behavior”). Frosh laffers include “The War at Home,” “Kitchen Confidential” and “The Loop.”

Fox’s presentation included a performance by last year’s “American Idol” winner, Fantasia, with the Harlem Gospel Choir.