TV Critics Summer Press TourFox's Liguori chastens FCC
By Nellie Andreeva The Hollywood Reporter
July 25, 2006
PASADENA -- As Fox, CBS and NBC are locked into a legal battle with the FCC over the commission's indecency rules, Fox's entertainment president Peter Liguori had some harsh words for the media regulators on Monday.
"The FCC rules create a chilling effect on creativity," he said during Fox's portion of Television Critics Assn.'s summer press tour. "The rules are murky and none of (broadcast networks') business plans are designed to handle such huge fines."
Fox's record proposed fine of $1.18 million for the reality series "Married by America" was eclipsed earlier this year by the $3.6 million sanction proposed for CBS' drama "Without a Trace."
In what has become a recurring theme at this press tour, Fox joined the club of underdogs on Thursday night.
"There's no doubt about it -- it is going to be one monster competitive night on television," Liguori said of Thursday night, which will see ABC's powerhouse "Grey's Anatomy" go head to head with CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" at 9 p.m. "Everyone is an underdog," he added.
The network is easing its way into the killer Thursday 9 p.m. time slot with "Celebrity Duets," a singing competition which will air in the time period in the fourth quarter.
On Monday, Fox announced 13 of the professional singers to be partnered with amateur singing celebrities, including Cyndi Lauper, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick, Brian McKnight, Macy Gray, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Richard Marx and Michael Bolton.
Liguori credited the network's hit reality series "American Idol" and especially the appearance of Prince in the show's most recent season finale for "opening the door" for big-name singers to take part in reality singing competitions.
Because of the huge success of "Idol," Liguori said he was a surprised by how poorly ABC's summer singing competition, "The One," has performed. Given how vocal ABC entertainment president Stephen McPherson has been about Fox's reality guru Mike Darnell's penchant for creating copycats of other networks' formats, including ABC's "Wife Swap" and "Supernanny," Liguori threw a salvo at his ABC counterpart over "The One," an "Idol" lookalike.
"I think McPherson owes Mike an apology," Liguori told reporters after the session.
To promote "Duets," Fox has used its successful summer reality shows "So You Think You Can Dance," which will conclude its run with a two-part season finale on Aug. 9 and Aug. 16, and "Hell's Kitchen." Both series have been picked up for a third season, the network announced Monday.
"The O.C." is slated to return to the Thursday 9 p.m. slot in November with an order for 16 episodes to run through the end of March.
While Liguori said he thinks the "O.C." loyalists will stick with the show in the face of fierce competition and an order for more episodes is possible, the network also is working on contingency plans, looking at the drama pilots "Drive" and "Beyond" as well as several reality concepts to fill the time slot come April.
Liguori also talked about the importance of having plans for how to wrap up serialized dramas that don't go the distance. At the other networks' presentations the past week, the network's "Reunion" was often used as an example of a canceled serialized drama that didn't have a proper conclusion and thus might deter viewers from investing in serialized dramas in the future.
"I think the audience deserves some closure," Liguori said.
Also on Monday, Fox announced celebrity couple du jour Jessica Simpson and Dane Cook will host "Teen Choice 2006," which will air on the network Aug. 20.http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr..._id=1002878518