Kevin Reilly will step down as entertainment chairman of Fox Broadcasting by the end of June, the network said on Thursday. No successor was named.
While Fox looks for a successor, Reilly’s senior executives will report to Fox Networks Group CEO Peter Rice. Reilly joined Fox in 2007 as entertainment president and was elevated to his current post in 2012.
“21st Century Fox is a great company that has provided me with choice seats at the head table of pop culture over two very rewarding stints both at FBC and FX, and I am grateful to have benefitted from the leadership of Peter Rice, Chase Carey and Rupert Murdoch,” said Reilly. “Peter and I have been discussing this transition for a while, and now with a robust new slate of programming for next season and strength in the FBC ranks, it felt like the timing was as right as it could be. I couldn't be more thankful to my team – a group of creative, tireless and fun people whose fellowship I will miss.”
Reilly’s seven-year tenure at Fox was initially filled with numerous successful shows in 24, House, Bones and Glee—in addition to American Idol still being a ratings juggernaut—ensuring that Fox would take home the adults 18-49 demo crown, which it did for eight straight seasons until CBS won it last year. The 2013-14 season was won by NBC in the demo and CBS among total viewers—Fox placed second in the demo (with a huge assist from February’s Super Bowl) and last in total viewers.
However, in the past few seasons under Reilly, Fox has struggled in the ratings, launching critically adored but little-viewed shows such as Fringe, TheMindy Project, Enlisted, as well as the Simon Cowell fronted X Factor, which never lived up to its lofty standards. From this past season, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Sleepy Hollow were the only two freshman series to get a second season.
Well-performing shows such as New Girl and The Following have fallen hard in the ratings since their launches and American Idol posted its least-viewed season in its 13-year run.
Reilly made headlines back in January when he said that Fox would do away with the traditional pilot season, labeling it inefficient; two weeks ago he unveiled Fox’s first fall lineup since that declaration.
Reilly joined Fox from NBC, where he shepherded successful shows in The Office, The Biggest Loser, Friday Night Lights and 30 Rock. Prior to NBC, Reilly led entertainment for cabler FX, launching brand defining hits in The Shield, Nip/Tuck and Rescue Me.
Reilly is set to be inducted into the B&C hall of fame in October.
Below is Reilly's memo about his decision:
To my friends and colleagues:
I have decided to resign as Chairman of Entertainment at FBC, effective at the end of June.
While difficult decisions have to be made every day, none have weighed more heavily on me than this. The inspired FOX leadership, coupled with your commitment to excellence at FBC, has provided one of the most rewarding chapters in my life.
I love TV. Always have. Since my mother told me to stop sitting so close and watching so much.
I couldn’t feel more fortunate to be afforded the opportunity to preside over a dynamic business, collaborate with the most creative people on the planet and drive culture. And also to be positioned at the nexus of change. It's a fascinating moment in time as the digital evolution brings about radical shifts in consumer behavior. And through it all, the art form of TV has never been stronger or the marketplace more robust.
As invigorating as all that is to be a part of, we all know the daily feeding of the network beast and early morning ritual of waking to an overnight report card does breed a certain type of mania. My first boss, Brandon Tartikoff, described presiding over a broadcast network as “the worst best job in the world.” I remember coming up in the business and seeing how the grind turned some executives into grizzled cynics. And I vowed to never become that guy.I have always believed it’s incumbent upon network brass to bring a wide-eyed optimism to the chairs they rent. Talent deserves that. And frankly, the jobs are just no fun otherwise. Staying fresh and looking forward is part of why I feel the timing is right for me to turn the page now.
As you, my colleagues, know all too well, I am rarely satisfied. But I hope you all also know that I am very proud of what we have accomplished together and of the exceptional entertainment we have helped bring to fruition. We put shows and songs at the top of the charts, we took home trophies, we got out ahead of defining and building and measuring the multi-platform universe and we re-wrote rules about how to develop, program and market TV. And I think some of the best is yet to come next season. It’s been a satisfying blast.
Thanks for all,
P.S. –Don't go back to pilot season!
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