An eloquent TV critic asked top Fox executives at press tour: When your acclaimed fall drama Lone Star performed an epic out-of-the-gate ratings bellyflop this fall, was that a real “punch to the nuts”?

“We went online and [the headline] was like, ‘Lone Star Dead!'” said Fox entertainment chairman Peter Rice.

“It was a real bummer,” agreed programming president Kevin Reilly. “We made a show that we really loved,” he continues. “You guys really believed in the show. But not enough people showed up. We were very disappointed, but that’s the reality of the business. I’d much prefer to fail with a show we are creatively proud of than fail with a show we’re embarrassed with.”

Did Fox learn any kind of lesson with the show?

“I guess I take umbrage with the idea that all the great shows can only be on cable,” Reilly said. “It’s the culture of Fox to be bold creatively. One discussion we did not have is saying, ‘Let’s not do that again.'”

As for the canceled (and less acclaimed) comedy Running Wilde from Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz, Reilly was asked if he interfered with showrunner Hurwitz’s creative vision.

“I think I watered down Mitch’s vision,” Reilly joked dryly. “Look, one of the early lessons you learn is to bet on the talent. [Wilde] was slow to find itself. I was involved. I was involved probably more than I wanted to be. Mitch didn’t resent it. It struggling to find its legs. It found them probably too little too late.”

In other words: That show was a mess and I did everything I could to fix the damn thing.

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