Reilly discusses the challenge of broadcast television versus cable
By Valerie Milano
Pasadena, CA (Hollywood Today) 1/9/13 – “You may have noticed that we here at FOX kind of limped our way in out of 2012, so nobody’s happier than us to turn the page and get on to a fresh year where I think there’s some better things to come.” says Kevin Reilly, Chairman of Entertainment at FOX Broadcasting as he opens his executive panel at the TCA. This year should prove interesting to that network at least.
FOX has received some criticism for their violent new show The Following considering last year’s shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut. When asked whether these events impacted his decision-making process, Reilly responded, “You have to absorb everything. We’re in the culture business. You are constantly monitoring cultural shifts, current events, shifts in mores, things that reflect society — that is, we both reflect society, and, at times, we try to drive it. It comes with a responsibility. I know there was some talk about that earlier. I don’t like to trivialize an issue by drawing a direct linkage between anything, but we take everything we do — everything we put on the air ‑‑ with the utmost responsibility. I have a lot of sleepless nights. Not only am I trying to get hits, but we’re trying to ‑‑ as we have since the early days of television and Elvis on Ed Sullivan, you’re trying to find that line. Current events, tragedy are all part of it. I think you can’t be reactionary, and you can’t draw a direct linkage, but all of the above is on your mind when you’re making these decisions.”
He goes on to say, “This show adheres to our broadcast standards. We haven’t pushed broadcast standards. I think that the show is intense because of the psychological nature of it and the characters in whom we invest. The truth is, I think there have been more violent shows on television. I think some of them have come and gone, and nobody noticed or cared because they were insignificant, bad shows. This is a significant show and a good show, and I think, as such, you’re invested in it, and it feels even more intense than it is.”
Reilly discusses the challenge of broadcast television as opposed to cable, stating, “We’re not competing with just Criminal Minds.” He continues, “I’m competing with every show on cable. And if you noticed, the top drama on television last year was Walking Dead. So, for many years, I could sit here and say, oh, those shows are interesting, and they’re great, but you know what, if you took the highest‑rated show, it would rank number 95 on our air. No, it’s the number-one show. So that doesn’t mean every show we put on should start chasing the standards of cable ‑‑ in fact, our standards on this are much more conservative than on Walking Dead or any of our basic-cable comparisons. But we must match the intensity, otherwise we’re going to be a pale comparison, and we’re not going to entertain the audience. And I think this show goes toe to toe with them on the level of intensity and ability to surprise and hold your interest.”
The Following will keep its intense content intact.