Fox banks on dinosaurs, Simon Cowell in new TV lineup

Mon May 16, 2011 11:14am EDT
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By Paul Thomasch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fox Broadcasting is calling on the hitmaking power of Simon Cowell and Steven Spielberg to sustain its standing with younger viewers, with one offering up another splashy talent show and the other bringing a prehistoric world to network TV.

Fox will also add four new comedies, two animated and two live action, along with another two dramas to its 2011-12 prime-time TV schedule, already anchored by hits such as "American Idol" and "Bones."

Network executives, in unveiling their new schedule on Monday, said Cowell's "The X Factor" would run this fall on Wednesday and Thursday nights, mirroring the midseason strategy is uses for "American Idol."

"We feel we have the gold standard in both 'Idol' and 'X Factor,'" Fox Networks Group Chairman Peter Rice said on a conference call. "In Simon Cowell we have the absolute star of the genre at the pinnacle of his game."

Based on the British hit, "The X Factor" is yet another in the growing list of talent shows that are spread across broadcast television. It will comprise a judging panel of Cowell, British singer Cheryl Cole, record producer Antonio "L.A." Reid and Paula Abdul, who quit "Idol" two years ago in a contract dispute.

Fox's other new tentpole show -- the sort that, when successful, can get entire families to gather around the television set -- is a far cry from Fox's talent shows.

Called "Terra Nova," the Spielberg-produced drama is an account of a family that travels back 85 million years, confronting dinosaurs and assorted bad guys. The show, which was previewed for advertisers a year ago, will debut on Mondays this fall ahead of the medical drama "House."

Broadcast television struggled last season in introducing big, broad dramas, almost all of which failed to win audiences, and the costly "Terra Nova" will be under pressure to perform.   Continued...