TCA: Fox’s Kevin Reilly Declares His Network Is Abandoning Pilot Season

Fox chairman Kevin Reilly opened his executive session with a R.I.P. sign “Fox  Pilot Season 1986-2013” and stated that the network will not adhere to the traditional pilot season starting this year. “We are going to be bypassing pilot season,” he said, later referring to the old system as “a welfare state.” “The broadcast development system was built in different era with three networks and is highly inefficient. It is nothing short of a miracle talent can still produce anything of quality in that environment,” which he said includes ordering a ton of pilots, then screening them and making a decision over a two-week period, with the producers of the newly picked up series tasked with delivering a series on the air in six weeks.

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Reilly pointed to Lost co-showrunner Damon Lindelof’s comments last week that the slow-cooking development season in cable, where he works now on his HBO series Leftovers, is superior to broadcast, and said he fully agrees with him. “Every first-season show needs a course correction and reshoting,” he said, noting that one of cable’s biggest hits, FX’s Sons Of Anarchy, recast its lead and reshot a large chunk of the pilot, arguing that the broadcast model would’ve just discarded the inferior pilot and missed out on a hit show.

Reilly noted that, heading into the traditional pilot season, Fox already has 9 series in various stages of production: event series 24: Live Another Day, Wayward Pines and Gracepoint, comedy Mulaney, 13-episode dramas Hieroglyph and Backstrom, Glenn Gordon Caron/Ben Affleck’s The Middle Man, which has five scripts already written and is casting, as well as a few pilots that Reilly fully envisions as series, with episodic pickups considered a formality, including drama comic book drama Gotham and comedies Fatrick and Cabot College (formerly untitled Matt Hubbard). “I anticipate a few more ordered to series or production, and the balance pushed or ordered for summer and fall.” He anticipates to make orders soon and have some pilots and series greenlighted now for production later in the year.

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