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Fox's future: resurrect Jack, revive Idol

Fox plans a comeback by overhauling the ”Idol” judges panel, resurrecting ”24,” revamping dramas

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After a record eight consecutive season victories among adults 18–49, Fox’s ratings domination is being threatened by CBS, which is expected to claim first place this season. Blame American Idol‘s season 12 ratings plummet (it was Nicki vs. Mariah vs. Nobody Cares) and a few programming misfires (we admittedly miss mocking The Mob Doctor). So how does Fox hope to turn things around? Hint: Jack Bauer to the rescue!

STOP IDOL‘S DOWNWARD SPIRAL

The venerable franchise is down 23 percent to 15.2 million viewers on Wednesday nights this year. ”I’d like to see the decline now end,” says Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly. ”There are going to be changes next season, for sure. A tweaking to the format is overdue.” Those changes could involve an entire judges’-panel reboot that puts the focus back on the show’s contestants and less on divisive outsize personalities. ”Does Idol go back up to where it was 10 years ago? No,” Reilly says. ”But I think it will play within an [acceptable ratings] range for quite some time.”

BUILD THE DRAMA BENCH

Fox will pair Bones with fantasy procedural Sleepy Hollow in the fall, and in November will roll out the J.J. Abrams-produced robot-cop drama Almost Human (”All the inventiveness of Fringe with a more accessible concept,” Reilly says). Come midseason, it’ll have Greg Kinnear on Rake (”It’s another great Fox a–hole protagonist,” he quips).

ADOPT A YEAR-ROUND SCHEDULE

The network will get more serious about staggering show launches and even ordering shorter seasons (like this year’s 15-episode model for The Following). One short-order series is the mystery thriller Wayward Pines, produced by The Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan.

BRING BACK JACK

Fox is resurrecting Kiefer Sutherland’s hit 24 for a 12-episode limited series slated for May 2014, titled 24: Live Another Day. ”It will maintain the way the series works but will skip a few hours,” Reilly says. Finally, Jack Bauer might get stuck in traffic like the rest of us.

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