Fox was first out of the gate with new series orders late Tuesday, giving the greenlight to a handful of comedy and drama pilots, including the “Bones” spinoff and J.J. Abrams’ “Alcatraz.” Net also lowered the ax on dramas “Human Target,” “The Chicago Code” and “Lie to Me” and laffers “Breaking In” and “Traffic Light.”
With its upfront presentation less than a week away, Fox moved fast with its pickup decisions so its exec producers could reach out to creative talent before the deluge hits later this week as the Big Three and CW make their new programming picks. Fox and NBC kick off the broadcast nets’ week of upfront presentations in Gotham on Monday.
In addition to “Alcatraz,” which reunites a number of “Lost” alums including thesp Jorge Garcia, and “Bones” spinoff “The Finder,” Fox was poised to order 20th Century Fox TV dramas “Touch,” from Tim Kring, with Kiefer Sutherland starring (though the pilot has not lensed yet), and CIA actioner “Exit Strategy,” starring Ethan Hawke.
Fox’s first pickup call went to the Zooey Deschanel laffer “New Girl,” from 20th Century Fox TV and scribe Liz Meriwether. It also gave the nod to Warner Bros. TV comedy “I Hate My Teenage Daughter,” starring Jaime Pressly and Katie Finneran.
The Mike O’Malley domestic vehicle “Family Album” is said to still be a strong contender for a half-hour slot.
Earlier Tuesday, Fox reached a deal for an eighth season of medical drama “House” after drawn-out negotiations with Universal Media Studios.
With the highly anticipated Simon Cowell vehicle “The X Factor” expected to take up at least two hours in the fall sked, and the ultra-ambitious “Terra Nova” also set for September, Fox isn’t expected to order much more new programming for the fall.
The net may have room for only one new half-hour in the fall, with returning comedy “Raising Hope” serving as a lead-in Tuesday at 9 p.m.
While the traditional January launch of “American Idol” has been powerful enough to propel Fox to top primetime ratings among broadcasters going back several seasons, the network typically struggled in the fourth quarter with its juggernaut resting on the bench.
But last year Fox had its best fall showing in nearly a decade thanks in part to the success of “Glee.” Picking the right shows in September will be crucial in maintaining that momentum.
On Thursday and Friday, there may be few openings given that “Bones” and “Fringe” have been renewed.
Slotting a high-profile project such as “Terra Nova” or “X Factor” on Thursday would be logical given the rich ad revenues up for grabs on the night. “Factor” may be a natural choice for replacing “Idol” in its Wednesday-Thursday footprint.
Having “Nova” and “Factor” together on Thursday would be a particularly audacious gambit, but one that could send a message to Madison Avenue that the network is intent on making a splash. It would allow Fox to stock returning shows on Friday, which can be an unforgiving night for new shows looking to bloom.
Sunday is expected to remain intact, with renewals announced Monday for the 9-10 p.m. pairing of “Family Guy” and “Cleveland.” They join “American Dad,” “The Simpsons” and “Bob’s Burgers.” “Burgers,” the only rookie, has already secured a second season.
As for “House,” the one-year pact means it’s doubtful the show would return for a ninth season. If the Hugh Laurie starrer can maintain or even improve its ratings and halt a downward slide, Fox might rethink that strategy and negotiate once again with UMS, which owns the show.
(Andrew Wallenstein and Stuart Levine contributed to this report.)