Fox Broadcasting Chairman Gary Newman took some time during the Innovative TV Conference (INTV) in Jerusalem on Monday to touch upon the future of the 24 franchise; as well as offer some pointed insight into the renewal futures of series Gotham, The Last Man on Earth, L.A. To Vegas, The Exorcist and Empire.
Here are some of the highlights:
● The next iteration of 24 stems from executive producers Howard Gordon and Imagine's Brian Grazer, who received a script commitment for a series that at the time was rumored to be built around a legal conspiracy as a female prosecutor works against the clock to save the life of a death row inmate. Newman didn't rule that out as a possibility, but didn't rule out other possibilities — including a return to counter-terrorism:
"I think terrorism is uniquely suited for 24 because the timeliness and urgency is built in. You could be in the medical field or the legal field where a clock is ticking and something has to happen. But I wouldn't bet against terrorism"
● While Newman believes the 24 franchise has a lot of storyline possibilities, he sounds open to the idea of having Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) make a return: "Clearly, Kiefer (Sutherland) is not coming back… if he were available and wanted to, that would be pretty good. But we think that the franchise is still really valid."
● For a dark show, it looks like Gotham might be getting some sunny news about its future:
"We asked a lot of it this year moving to Thursday nights and I thought it did a pretty good job of opening up that night for us. I feel like Gotham should have a place in our schedule."
● With the NFL's Thursday Night Football moving to Fox in the fall, Newman recognizes that leaves a question mark as to where Gotham would be placed on the schedule: "[It will] purely be a matter of scheduling. Thursday is not available in the fall, so where do we use it? Hopefully there's more years of Gotham."
● Regrading the The Exorcist, Newman admitted that the move to Friday night wasn't an easy one for the series; and though there's great pride in the show, it's "on the bubble":
"We had hoped that we would be able to tap into a movie-going crowd who didn't want to go out to the movies… and we did get some viewership. I thought the show was incredibly well produced, the stories were great."
● Same goes for Will Forte-starrer The Last Man on Earth, which is joining The Exorcist on that bubble:
"It's a bubble show, but we do love it. I think now we would have to say we would love to bring it back, and it's really going to be a matter of, as we sit down and schedule, what kind of room do we have? How do our pilots pan out?"
● Having received an order for three additional episodes in Janaury, Newman also sees freshman airline industry comedy L.A. To Vegas making the schedule: "It's hard to know now, but it feels like a show that should be on our schedule."
● With Empire set to return from its season 4 mid-season break later this month, Newman reiterated the network's pride in the series and welcomes its return:
"Boy, as long as the audience continues. Our cast loves doing the show. We're so proud of that show; it's so clear that it served an audience that was under-served. We asked a lot of it this year, moving it to 8 p.m. Some of the themes of that show might make it want to be a 9 o'clock show, but at some point we have to schedule in a way where you create opportunities for other shows too."