TCA: We Are Rebuilding, Says Fox’s Walden

Complete Coverage: TCA Summer 2016

Beverly Hills, Calif. -- Fox has its work cut out for it, admitted Dana Walden, chairman and CEO, Fox Television Group, and the rampant election interest and Olympics on NBC have made attracting viewers to Fox even more difficult. “This is a time for rebuilding at Fox and at networks in general,” said Walden, citing the “fantastic shows” on cable and streaming “that never would’ve survived on broadcast.”

Programming events for Fox this fall include Amy Schumer guest voicing across the spectrum of Fox’s animated shows Sept. 25, Mariah Carey turning up, and performing, on Empire Oct. 5, a crossover pair of episodes for Brooklyn Nine-Nine and New Girl Oct. 11, and an hour-long The Simpsons, with guest voicing from Taraji P. Henson (voicing “Praline”, ex-wife of a music mogul), in January.

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“I just pray it won’t be the last thing people see before a Trump inauguration,” said Simpsons executive producer Al Jean.

Walden, who spoke Monday during Fox's TCA summer press tour, said director Thomas Kail, part of Fox’s Grease: Live production as well as the Broadway smash Hamilton, has created a production pod housed within Twentieth Century Fox Television. Kail will develop, supervise and potentially direct television projects both for broadcast and cable.

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Also within the Grease: Live family, producer Marc Platt has signed a first-look deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television, said Walden.

Walden, who was joined on stage by Fox entertainment president David Madden, said Fox is keen to produce more X-Files episodes if they can work out an agreement with the talent. Both said the reboot, despite some critical grumblings, was a success. “I think the six episodes were strong,” said Madden. “The episodes represent Chris’ (Carter, creator) and his team’s vision.”

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Walden addressed the challenge of producing standout shows in this era of peak TV. A day before, producer David E. Kelley, working on the drama Goliath for Amazon, spoke of the limitations of broadcast, and the creative potential of streaming. Walden insisted top producers still want to work with the broadcast networks. “It hasn’t been difficult at all to convince our partners,” she said, noting how broadcast shows have greater potential “to become part of the national and global conversation.”

Walden touted drama Lethal Weapon and comedy Son of Zorn, among others, as potentially busting the network out of its prime slump. “We know we have much more hard work to do,” said Walden, “but we feel good about where we’re heading.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the L.A. Times and New York magazine.