CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- FOX executives announced yesterday the network has dropped its planned second edition of "American Juniors" from its fall schedule.
The move was made after producers FremantleMedia and 19 Entertainment told FOX they don't have enough time to prep another installment of the "American Idol" spin-off to make a fall launch. And with "Idol 3" starting in January, the earliest a second edition of "Juniors" could be ready is next summer.
The producers also noted that with Simon Cowell committed to the U.K.'s "Pop Idol 2" this fall, auditions for the third U.S. version had to be pushed up, further complicating any possible timelines for a new "Juniors."
Various industry sources say it's a convenient excuse, especially considering "Juniors'" lackluster ratings performance this summer. The series bowed to an impressive 11.9 million viewers on June 3 but saw its numbers dip more than 40% by the end of July. FOX executives nevertheless say they were quite happy with "Juniors," noting its strong numbers in the teen demographic.
In the end, executives at Fremantle and 19 didn't want to compromise the parent series by trying to rush another installment of the spin-off out the door regardless of the ratings. FOX hasn't announced a replacement series and it's unclear what will fill the Tuesday, 8:00/7:00c hour come October 28 when "Juniors 2" was originally slated to bow.
Among the possible replacements are the "Green Acres"-esque reality series "The Simple Life," which FOX held back from a summer start due to a surprisingly positive response from critics. Speculation is also abound that FOX could keep "The O.C." on Tuesday nights, shifting it to 8:00/7:00c as a lead-in to "24." "The O.C." would then move to Thursdays as previously planned in January once "Idol 3" launches. An official decision is expected in the coming weeks.