"Business as usual." That was the key phrase mentioned multiple times during Thursday's Fox executive session at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour. The annual tour kicked off on January 4 at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, California.
The session started out with laughs as Fox Television Group's Chairman/CEO, Gary Newman, showed photos of he and co-Chairman/CEO Dana Walden standing with Mickey Mouse and enjoying Disneyland rides as a nod to the industry-shaking news of Disney acquiring Fox.
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"FBC, Fox Sports, Fox News and Fox owned-and-operated stations will be spun off into what we're calling New Fox," revealed Newman of what's to come assuming the Disney deal closes. "We're in the most exciting and dynamic time in the history of the TV business and New Fox has an extraordinary opportunity to chart a new course for the future. It is expected this transition will take a year to 18 months to close. Inevitably, the process is going to invite a lot of talk and speculation. We are not going to let that distract us. We will remain focused on managing the business of Fox."
One programming note which was made clear regarding the deal, shows airing on Fox won't be moving to other Disney-owned networks. "They won't move to ABC," said Walden. "Over the next 12-18 months, it's really business as usual. The shows that are on FBC will continue to be FBC shows. Ongoing, there's no plan to move shows over to ABC."
When asked about the future of The X-Files since star Gillian Anderson has said in interviews she doesn't want to do any more episodes and creator Chris Carter has said he didn't want to a Scully-less X Files, Walden stated simply, "Seems like if those are the circumstances, there won't be any more X Files," said Walden. She did not elaborate further.
Other news from the session was that Fox isn't done with its Prison Break franchise. "We are developing a new iteration of Prison Break," said Michael Thorn, President, Entertainment, Fox. Details beyond that news were minimal but he added, "when we know more we will be happy to share more."
Regarding ABC's upcoming revival of the former Fox powerhouse American Idol, Newman said, "We did bring the show to an end, the economics of it simply weren't working anymore. We couldn't really get to a place with the producers where we could make changes to the format to make the show more economical and heighten the intensity of the series." Newman added with a chuckle, "I wish them a little bit of luck, not too much."
Also asked about the future of the long-running dance competition series, So You think You Can Dance, there wasn't much news. "We're looking at all our options for summer," said Rob Wade, President, Alternative Entertainment and Specials.
Finally, announced via release before the panel, the Emmy-winning animated series, Family Guy, will air an extended-length episode with limited commercial interruption. The episode, "Send in Stewie, Please," will air on Sunday, March 11 at 9/8c. Sir Ian McKellan will guest voice as a child psychologist who sits down with Stewie. “I think Sir Ian learned a lot from working with me,” noted the youngest Griffin in the release. “And mark my words: he has a bright future in this business.”