Meet the “new” Fox. Same as the old Fox.
Fox Entertainment Chief Executive Charlie Collier said today that the network left standing after Walt Disney Co. acquires the studio assets of parent company 21st Century Fox will still have the rebellious streak that has defined its programming over the years.
“I believe that this next era at Fox will add yet another risk-welcoming, bet-taking successful chapter to Fox’s 30-plus-year legacy of exploration, investment and innovation,” Collier said at the Television Critics Assn. winter press tour in Pasadena.
While Collier called Fox a “start-up company,” it will be some time before viewers notice any changes in what they see on the network, which will no longer be aligned with the TV studio that produced many of its hits. The TV and movie studio are going to Disney in a $71.3 billion acquisition expected to close later this month.
The Murdoch family is retaining ownership of the Fox broadcast network, Fox News, Fox Sports, and the Fox television stations.
Although Disney will own “The Simpsons,” Fox will still be the network home of the program that helped define the network in its early years. It’s likely “The Simpsons,” which has been ordered for two more seasons, is being continued as a loss leader for the new company because of its longtime importance to the Fox brand.
Collier did not go into detail on the terms of the deal to keep “The Simpsons” but indicated that it was worth it for the studio to continue the series, which generates revenue from syndication in the U.S. and overseas. “Our deals with (the Fox TV studio) have been negotiated as such so we can sustain the franchises that are theirs,” he said.
Collier said Fox will remain in the animation business, having already ordered a new series “Bless the Harts” with Kristen Wiig that will join “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy” and “Bob’s Burgers” next season.
“We’re intent on finding the next generation of culture-defining animated comedies to join them,” he said.
While the remaining Fox company will have an emphasis on live programming with NFL games on Thursday nights and WWE’s “Smackdown” on Fridays, the network will still be in the market for scripted shows.
Outside studios that do business with the network will typically have to give up equity in their shows to Fox in order to get a place on the schedule.
“We’re building assets for these people and we’re giving them a platform to compound value for their show,” Collier said.
Collier — who oversaw AMC during a time where the network made its name as an innovative programmer with such series as “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” — said Fox will be open to “passion projects” because it won’t be under pressure to carry programs from a larger studio.
Fox Entertainment will be in the business of creating its own programs. It has formed a program development company with producer Gail Berman called SideCar, which Collier described as a “content accelerator.” SideCar will develop programs that will be owned by Fox Entertainment but will also partner with outside studios that bring projects to the company.
Berman is a former entertainment president for Fox, overseeing programming at the network during its most successful period from 2000 to 2005, when “American Idol,” “House” and “Family Guy” all emerged as big hits. Since 2007, she has run the Jackal Group, a production company that most recently developed the Netflix series “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.”
While Fox News is remaining part of the new company, Collier said there are no plans to have programming from the division on the broadcast network.