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Fox announces its biggest programming investment ever at upfront

MUMBAI: US broadcaster Fox chairman, entertainment Kevin Reilly has unveiled the channel’s portfolio of content for the 2014-2015 television season to the national advertising community during its annual upfront programming presentation at the Beacon Theatre. The lineup includes five new dramas, four comedies and one unscripted show. There are also live events that have been planned. One can expect a lot of these shows to be seen on Indian television screens.

Reilly boasted that the portfolio of content this year reflects the biggest investment in programming that the broadcaster has ever made. “Fox is redefining the network experience on our air and as a 24/7/365 platform, with distinctive series, addictive event dramas and can’t-miss live specials that will deliver broadcast’s most youthful audience at scale.”

Fox COO Joe Earley said, “The new series and specials we’re presenting today feature buzzworthy worlds and characters that we think will be the most talked about, liked, tweeted and shared of the season.”

Origin story ‘Gotham’ and the coming-of-age series ‘Red Band Society’ are the two new dramas set to debut this fall. ‘Gotham’ traces the rise of the great DC Comics Super-Villains and vigilantes, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told. ‘Gotham’ follows one cop, destined for greatness, as he navigates a dangerously corrupt city teetering on the edge of evil, and chronicles the birth of one of the most popular super heroes of our time. ‘Gotham’ is paired on Monday nights with the returning ‘Sleepy Hollow’. “I don’t think I need to oversell, ‘Gotham’ is going to be big,” Reilly said in his presentation.

From Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and starring Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer, Dave Annable and a cast of fresh faces, ‘Red Band Society’ is being pushed as a provocative, inspiring and, at times, comedic young ensemble drama told through the eyes of a group of teenagers who meet as patients in the pediatric ward of Ocean Park Hospital in Los Angeles. The show will air on Wednesdays and has been paired with ‘Hells Kitchen’.

Also this fall, 10-episode mystery event series ‘Gracepoint’ starring David Tennant, Anna Gunn, Jacki Weaver, Nick Nolte and Michael Pena joins the schedule. The mystery follows the tragic death of a young boy, and the major police investigation and nationwide media frenzy that subsequently overtake a picturesque seaside town, where anyone is a suspect. Reilly said that the show has turned out to be something really special. The show has been paired with the returning show ‘Bones’ on Thursday’s primetime schedule.

The new comedy premiering this fall is ‘Mulaney’ and is part of the Sunday primetime schedule which includes the ‘Animation Domination’ block that Fox has tinkered with. ‘Mulaney’ stars writer and comedian John Mulaney as a rising stand-up comic trying to take his career to the next level, and the friends and mentors who lift him up, hold him back and push him around. The multi-camera sitcom boasts a cast of comedy all-stars, including Martin Short, Elliott Gould, Nasim Pedrad, Seaton Smith and Zack Pearlman.

One new unscripted series debuts in the fall. This is the social experiment ‘Utopia’, which asks, “Does a perfect world exist?” From unscripted mastermind John de Mol ‘Big Brother’ and based on the Dutch show the new series moves 15 everyday Americans to an isolated, undeveloped location – for an entire year – and challenges them to create their own civilization. Will it be ultimate happiness or utter chaos? The show kicks off Fox’s primetime lineup on Tuesdays. It will also air on Fridays.

Next year new content joining the schedule includes three dramas – ‘Empire’, ‘Hieroglyph’ and ‘Backstrom’. and three comedies, singles ensemble ‘Weird Loners’, Will Forte’s ‘The Last Man On Earth’ and animated comedy ‘Bordertown’.

From Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels comes ‘Empire’ a new drama about the head of a music empire whose three sons and ex-wife all battle for his throne. The world of ancient Egypt – a time of magic, Pharaohs, gods and thieves – lives again in ‘Hieroglyph’, an adventure series from creator/executive producer Travis Beacham. The epic fantasy follows a notorious thief who is plucked from prison to serve the Pharoah, forcing him to navigate palace intrigue, seductive concubines, criminal underbellies and divine sorcerers, as he races to stop the downfall of one of history’s greatest civilizations. This is being paired with ‘American Idol’ which is being streamlined this season.

Created and executive-produced by Hart Hanson offbeat comedic crime procedural ‘Backstrom’ centers on a detective who is an unhealthy, offensive, irascible – albeit brilliant – detective who is brought back from exile to run the Portland Police Bureau’s Special Crimes Unit (S.C.U.).

Based on a best-selling novel and brought to life by filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan ‘Wayward Pines’ is a 10-episode thriller starring Matt Dillon as a Secret Service agent on a mission to find two missing federal agents in the bucolic town of Wayward Pines, ID. Every step closer to the truth makes him question if he will ever get out of Wayward Pines alive. Reilly in his presentation noted that ‘Gracepoint’ and ‘Wayward Pines’ have nothing in common, except that viewers cannot turn them off.

On the comedy side ‘Weird Loners’, from writer Michael J. Weithorn is a new single-camera comedy about four single 30-something underdogs who are unexpectedly thrust into one another’s lives and form an unlikely bond in a Queens, NY, townhouse. Created by and starring Will Forte ‘The Last Man On Earth’ is a new single-camera comedy about the life and adventures of the last man on earth. A new animated comedy from Mark Hentemann and Seth MacFarlane, ‘Bordertown’ offers a satirical look at the cultural shifts taking place in America. Exploring family, politics and everything in between with a cross-cultural wink, the series centers on two very different families living in a fictional Southwest desert town on the U.S. – Mexico border.

Also announced for the 2014-2015 season are three live specials ‘Jump Of The Century’ (working title), ‘Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution’ (working title) and ‘Grease Live’ (working title). In the first special that airs this fall, on the 40th anniversary of Evel Knievel’s high-stakes attempt to jump across Idaho’s Snake River Canyon, two very different personalities – professional stuntman Eddie Braun and daredevil Big Ed Beckley – hope to achieve what Knievel could not by crossing the gaping 2,300-foot-deep canyon.

In the second special global superstar, Pitbull will be joined by some of his favourite A-list musicians and celebrity friends to ring in the New Year live from the sandy beaches of Miami. Pitbull, in fact, kicked off Fox’s upfront presentation. The third special is a live three-hour production of the popular crossover musical ‘Grease’. Featuring a young ensemble cast, the aim of the special is to reintroduce the great music and timeless story to an entirely new generation.

Apart from ‘American Idol’ and ‘Bones’ the other returning shows include ‘The Following’, ‘Masterchef Junior’ and ‘Glee’.