Fox schedules sci-fi and reality for new season

Fri May 16, 2008 1:07am EDT
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By James Hibberd

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Sci-fi action dramas and hourlong reality shows populate Fox's schedule for next season, which includes new shows from top producers J.J. Abrams ("Lost") and Joss Whedon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer").

Fox's lineup, unveiled Thursday during its "upfront" presentation to advertisers, includes three new dramas, two comedies and an unscripted series. The network plans once again to launch its fall season earlier than most competitors. During the week of August 25, Fox will air special two-hour premiere episodes of several series.

Absent from the schedule is "Back to You," which Fox cancelled last week. Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly defended keeping the lower-rated sitcom "Til Death" over the Kelsey Grammer comedy, admitting that cast salaries were a factor.

"The show did not really strike a chord," he said. "Creatively, it was a mixed bag. We're looking to find that next generation of comedy hits and it just did not feel like it would fit into that mix."

The network's upfront announcement contains more new shows for next season than any other broadcaster, though CBS has the most freshman shows set to launch in the fall.

Fox will start its fall season with a two-hour "Prison Break" on August 25. "Break" will then shift to 9 p.m. with the return of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" as its lead-in.

The Abrams thriller "Fringe," about a trio who explore paranormal mysteries, will have a two-hour premiere on Tuesday, August 26. The show will then settle into its regular time period at 9 p.m. after "House." "We have high expectations for this," Reilly said. "We'll have huge campaign for it."

Although the season contains three dramas with sci-fi tones, Reilly said he's confident they can find broad audiences. "I don't think any of these are hard genre shows," he said.   Continued...

<p>Producer J.J. Abrams in a file photo. Fox Broadcasting on Thursday rolled out a fall television schedule that adds a science-fiction thriller, from one of TV's hottest producers, and a workplace comedy to a lineup that is already tops with viewers. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>