Fox Broadcasting Co. has never played by the rules. And it won't start now. When Fox unveiled its fall season last month, the fourth network also announced its innovative programing strategy, putting a twist on the traditional description of "fall season." Fox will launch programs year-round, beginning next month.
"We believe that we are in a very competitive environment," said Peter Chernin, Fox Entertainment Group president. "Our feeling is that people watch TV every day of the year. It is essentially doing the public a disservice to close our business four or five months a year."
Fox kicks off its new programing July 11 with the second season of its teen series Beverly Hills 90210. Also premiering sometime in July will be the new Friday night series, The Ultimate Challenge, hosted by former NFL running back Mike Adamle and Jennifer Montana, wife of San Francisco 49er quarterback Joe Montana. Each week, stunt professionals, adventurers, athletes and daredevils will participate in such "ultimate challenges" as bungee jumping off the Empire State Building and capturing an 18-foot crocodile.
The series America's Most Wanted, Totally Hidden Videos, Cops and Sunday Comics will return with new episodes during the summer.
The Best of the Worst, though not on Fox's fall schedule, will premiere in July, Chernin said. Greg Kinnear is the host of the new series that takes a "fast-paced, fun-loving look at the worst things in life."
Coming in August will be the new comedy series Roc (Sunday nights), starring Tony-nominee Charles S. Dutton (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and The Piano Lesson). Dutton plays an opinionated, volatile garbage collector trying to lead a simple life with his down-to-earth wife. Behind the scenes: producer Stan Daniels (Mary Tyler Moore, Taxi) and director James Burrows (Cheers).
"We believe our new series, in some way, are our most precious assets," Chernin said. "It doesn't make sense to premiere all our new shows in a two-week period in the fall. It is impossible to get enough attention. The public gets confused. I think this new play treats each new series as something very special."
Fox also has three new TV movies scheduled for the summer: the drama Seeds of Tragedy (Monday); K-9000 (July 1), a thriller about a detective and a scientist teaming up to find a special dog; the coming of age drama Pink Lightning (July 8); and the network premiere of 1988's Alien Nation (July 22), starring James Caan and Mandy Patinkin.
On Aug. 25, Fox will present live coverage of the annual Emmy Awards.
"WKRP' going back
Loni Anderson is the latest WKRP in Cincinnati alum to sign on for the scheduled revival of the 1978-82 CBS series next fall in first-run syndication. Already aboard are original cast members Howard Hesseman, Gordon Jump, Richard Sanders and Frank Bonner, who will direct some episodes.