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Networks their own worst critics at TCA

Network bigwigs talk ”Fringe,” ”Glee,” ”Smash,” ”Community,” ”American Idol,” and more

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Some surprising moments punctuated the opening days of the semiannual Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, where execs and talent faced off with reporters — and each other. Highlights included:

? Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly took a hard-line stance against giving Fringe a fifth season, putting studio Warner Bros. on notice that the show isn’t returning at its current cost. ”We’re not in the business of losing money,” he said.

? Glee‘s long-gestating spin-off series is dead. Yet the show’s seniors will graduate as part of a new story line this spring that will somehow keep Lea Michele, and perhaps others, on the series.

? American Idol faces a rival this spring with NBC’s The Voice, and laid-back Randy Jackson came out swinging. ”That show was almost ‘second-chance people,’ ” he said, calling season 1 winner Javier Colon an artist with a ”failed” record contract. ”We will never rip off Star Trek like they did with spinning chairs.”

? Critics say upcoming NBC drama Smash has promise, but entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt tried to temper expectations for a quick network turnaround. ”People keep saying the only place we have to go is up — which I think is true — but there’s a lot of work to do before we get there.” Meanwhile, cult favorite Community will return this spring but might get a new night or time slot.