Fox sets dates for ‘Idol,’ ‘Following’

Duo to preem in mid-January

Fox laid out its winter plans on Wednesday, with “American Idol” returning in mid-January as usual and new drama “The Following” following a few days later.

“Idol,” which withstood a challenge from NBC’s “The Voice” to remain TV’s top entertainment series again last season, will roll out with a two-night event on Wednesday, Jan. 16 and Thursday, Jan. 17. The show, again hosted by Ryan Seacrest, will feature new judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban.

Kevin Williamson’s psychological drama “The Following,” starring Kevin Bacon, has been slotted for the Monday 9 o’clock hour as expected, starting Jan. 21. The net enjoyed success for years in the timeslot with “24,” and is hoping its new entry, whose pilot has generated good industry buzz, will provide that same kind of midseason jolt.

“The Following” will premiere the day after Fox airs football’s NFC Conference Championship game, which gives it a good vehicle from which to promote.

Kiefer Sutherland drama “Touch” will kick off its second season on Friday, Feb. 1, taking over for “Fringe,” which will have wrapped its run by that point. Fox had originally skedded “Touch” for a late October bow, but instead is hoping that football and “American Idol” can help promote the show’s return.

Fox has yet to announce a premiere date for midseason comedy “The Goodwin Games,” though it’s likely to bow in late winter.

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