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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Fox offers more diversity in 2009-10 schedule than all networks combined last fall

Wanda My favorite take-away from Fox's unveiling of its lineup for 2009-10 wasn’t seeing sci-fi geek favorite Dollhouse renewed or getting another year to gripe about the inexplicable survival of Brad Garrett’s supremely unfunny sitcom ‘Til Death.

It was seeing Fox advance a fall schedule with more new shows starring black folks than all the networks combined could manage last fall.

This fall, the network will debut Brothers, a comedy starring Darryl “Chill” Mitchell and former NFL star Michael Strahan as siblings trying to keep a Houston restaurant afloat. It will also feature the comedy The Cleveland Show, a Family Guy spinoff originally scheduled for this season, centered on a black family.

And comic Wanda Sykes (above), who wished liver failure on Rush Limbaugh during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, gets a chance to make that request nightly, hosting a late-night roundtable talk show starting in November that will compete against the first half-hour of Saturday Night Live each week.

“If you look, it’s a pretty monochromatic landscape in late-night television,” said Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly in a conference call with journalists today, likely referring to the fact that network TV’s six late-night comedy/talk shows are hosted by six white males.

“You’ve got a lot of talking heads recording the same spoofs and the same sketches,” Reilly added. “(Wanda’s) going to have the perfect voice to sum up the week, take the issues everybody’s talking about, and give them a Cleveland1 whole new spin.”

Of course, this schedule also continues the tradition of featuring black stars in comedies. And since the guy who voices the lead character on The Cleveland Show (right) is actually white, the schedule also revives an old tradition of white folks playing black people.

But considering how bad last season was – The Cleveland Show was the only new series starring a person of color and that wound up delayed until this fall – there’s little sense in nitpicking.

See the schedule grid here.

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Click below to read my other observations:


Monica -- St. Petersburg native Monica Raymund (left) gets another year of employment, as her series Lie to Me was picked up for fall.

-- The renewal of sci-fi fanboy hero Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse creates an odd Friday night lineup featuring two family comedies leading into a science fiction adventure show. Lends credence to the notion that Fox approved the show’s next season just to make enough episodes for a DVD.

-- Dollhouse re-up also reverses a trend I saw this season, where some of the shows with the highest views via DVR -- NBC's My Own Worst Enemy and Fox's Terminator series -- were in the most danger. I've always thought these shows were a second tier of viewing; not popular enough for appointment viewing, but popular enough that fans record them to watch later.

-- So You Think You Can Dance airing in the fall puts this summer series up against ABC’s fall cycle of Dancing With the Stars, a competition Fox says it can win because its audience is younger. It also mirrors the mid-season schedule Fox has with American Idol over two nights starting in January.

-- Just because unscripted shows such as Don’t Forget the Lyrics and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader aren’t scheduled, don’t despair (or celebrate!) Those will likely surface as new shows fail.

-- Because Tyler Labine, star of the new Fox comedy Sons of Tucson, also co-stars in the yet-to-be-officially-canceled CW series Reaper, this seems a sign that Reaper is toast.

-- Citing statistics showing that more than 90 percent of young viewers still watch television shows on TV, Fox executives pooh-poohed notions that network TV was slipping, taking a shot at TNT’s hype for the nearly 7-million viewers watching its top series, The Closer.

“There are 75 broadcast shows that deliver more viewers,” said Fox entertainment chairman Peter Rice. Television still reigns supreme.”  

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[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:58pm]

    

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