Fox will continue to push the envelope with edgy, sometimes controversial unscripted programs.
“Fox has always been the network that is the easiest with iconoclasm and the most excited about forward looking, unexpected shows that aren’t shy of controversy and aren’t afraid of trying to create new tropes,” Simon Andreae, the network’s EVP of Alternative programming, told me Sunday afternoon.
“We now look at [AMERICAN] IDOL as a big, classic show, but at the time it was, ‘Let’s get a bunch of kids and feature not the beautiful finales, but the auditions — some of which are terrible.’ At its time that was as iconoclastic an idea as any.
“I want us to be able to continue the tradition of maverick, forward looking, pioneering programming — not afraid to go out on a limb. But at the same time, I think we live in a slightly more aspirational, morally complex world than we did even 10 or 15 years ago.”
That may be one reason for the recent high profile failure of I WANNA MARRY HARRY — a BACHELOR-like dating show in which 12 gullible women believed they were competing for a chance to wed the Prince of Wales.
“Look, you take chances, [and] you do things with the best intentions,” the network’s CEO, Peter Rice admitted earlier in the day.
“That one, I think we all felt it was a little bit of summer fun and the audience didn’t show up. So that happens.”
Andreae — who inherited the program from his predecessor, Mike Darnell, also weighed in on the show which was canceled after just three airings.
“I think it was a lot of fun,” he told me. “I think it was beautifully made. But with the wisdom of hindsight, I think it was a bit one note and I think the trope of a mean trick on a bunch of not super high IQ people was something that had been played out better several times before.”
Fox’s next entry into the unscripted space is the “social experiment” UTOPIA where 15 individuals with different backgrounds and political viewpoint will attempt to form and live in their own society for one year.
“We are a commercial network and we sell advertisements, so we have to make sure that we are good partners with the advertisers,” Andreae notes. “That will mean that quite a bit of our slate will be family friendly, familiar, hugely enjoyable shows. At the same time, I think we do want to introduce more texture and I think from time to time that is going to mean shows that are more maverick and spicier.”
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