The first question reporters had for Fox executives after they unveiled their new fall schedule on Monday morning: Why’d you cancel Brooklyn Nine-Nine? And then later on in the conversation: Why’d you rescue Last Man Standing?
Of course, NBC snatched up Brooklyn Nine-Nine just one day later after Fox lowered the ax last week, but the Fox team was still asked to explain its moves.
“It was based on a variety of factors,” said Dana Walden, Chairmen and CEO, Fox Television Group. “We love this show, those are great creators, it’s a phenomenal cast. We ordered it throughout five seasons. It’s a great length of time for a single-camera comedy. Ultimately we felt like we didn’t have the exact right place to schedule it this year. It performed best in our Sunday night lineup. We wanted to give Bob’s Burgers an opportunity to have a plum time period and really grow. It really limited the opportunities to schedule Brooklyn. With Thursday Night Football, there were two fewer hours to program. We were trying to create a more cohesive program, and scheduling Brooklyn would prevent us from promoting something new. Ultimately we decided we just didn’t have room for it and were trying we’re really happy its found a new home.”
In other words: We’re so glad the show we broke up with met somebody else!
The network was also asked about reviving the conservative-leaning traditional sitcom Last Man Standing, which ran for years on ABC until being axed last year. The show will return to Friday nights this fall.
Walden noted that a comedy like Last Man Standing has an easier “point of entry” for viewers than a serialized comedy like Brooklyn Nine-Nine. And if you were wondering, yes, ABC’s success with reviving Roseanne was a factor. Walden noted Last Man Standing delivered about 8 million viewers every week on ABC with the network giving the show minimal promotion (for all its critical acclaim Brooklyn Nine-Nine, it must be noted, was averaging less than 3 million viewers).
“Obviously I think everyone took a good hard look at the performance of Roseanne,” Walden said. “It did so well and it certainly did remind us that we have a huge iconic comedy star in our fox family in Tim Allen. We’ve been talking to Tim throughout the year. We tried to move Last Man Standing over last year when ABC decided not to move forward. It’s a really funny show. It had nothing to do with Roseanne that we were interested in the first place. We always felt like ABC didn’t really prioritize Last Man Standing. We always wondered how it would do if it was given a better opportunity and prioritized more in terms of a network’s agenda. We were emboldened by Roseanne.”
Fox executives were also asked if Allen’s politics were seen as a potential benefit.
“I’m not sure I think that [ABC’s] cancelation had anything to do with politics, if anything, it had something more to do with vertical integration,” said Gary Newman, Fox Television’s other Chairman and CEO. “Tim’s personal politics are not a big feature of the show and if you were to talk to Tim he would say [his character] is a centrist and the show never delved deeply into politics. We think its a funny show and audience responded to it… and we thought there was an opportunity there for us particularly after adding Thursday Night Football.”
Fox made the statements while revealing their new fall schedule.