CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- "There is no such thing as a fall schedule from FOX any longer," the network's entertainment president, Gail Berman, said this week. "The new season will start in June. It will all be laid out in a plan for them at upfront [on May 20]."
The news was delivered during FOX's pre-upfront meeting with the advertising community on Wednesday in which Berman indicated that instead of a traditional September start, FOX will begin the 2004-05 season in June followed by a second wave of launches in November when its coverage of the World Series concludes. The moves are part of what FOX says is a transition to a year-round schedule.
The announcement comes as little surprise as FOX had been moving in said direction for the past seven months with such moves as launching scripted dramas like "The O.C." during the summer and ordering several pilots well in advance of the traditional spring development season.
As for schedule specifics, here's a breakdown of the developments mentioned:
-- "Cracking Up," which has emerged as the weak link in the network's new Monday schedule, will be pulled after its April 5 broadcast with the remaining episodes turning up this summer.
-- Only one series has been given a firm summer start date: the Mark Burnett-produced reality series "The Casino" will air Tuesdays at 8:00/7:00c beginning June 8.
-- Drama pilots "Ricochet," "Hollywood Division" and "One Big Happy" (now titled "The Deerings") and comedy pilots "Lucky Us," "The Quints" and "Related by Family" were all mentioned by name as being likely targets for a summer start. The network plans to launch at least two new comedies and two new dramas this summer.
-- The network also confirmed its series orders for dramas "The Jury" (six episodes) and "The North Shore" (13 episodes) as well as the comedy "Method & Red," however it's still unclear if any or all of them will start this summer.
-- Almost 30 hours of programming left over from the 2003-04 season will be available to fill the network's summer slate, including shelved series "Still Life" (seven episodes) and "The Ortegas" (six episodes) as well as unaired episodes of "Boston Public" (two episodes), "Cedric the Entertainer Presents" (six episodes), "Oliver Beene" (10 episodes), "Wonderfalls" and the aforementioned "Cracking Up."
-- "Forever Eden," which has a 25-episode order, will undoubtedly spill over into the summer months.
-- And finally to review, "King of the Hill," "The Simpsons" and "That '70s Show" are the only series to have been given official pick-ups for the 2004-05 season, although "American Idol," "The Bernie Mac Show," "24" and "The O.C." are considered shoe-ins to return.