LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- "We are essentially this year, really for the first time, bypassing pilot season," Kevin Reilly, Chairman of Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company, told reporters at the top of the network's executive session at the TCA Winter Press Tour. "The broadcasting, development and scheduling system was built for a different era. It was built [during] a three network monopoly where you had all of the talent and all of the audience."
To that end, Reilly detailed the nine projects currently being shepherded by the network:
-- Limited series "Wayward Pines" is currently in production on episode five of 10. The project, from writer Chad Hodge and director M. Night Shyamalan, stars Matt Dillon as a Service Service agent who becomes trapped in the eerily perfect little town of Wayward Pines, Idaho while investigating the disappearance of two other agents.
-- Fellow event series "Gracepoint" is fully cast and goes into production in two weeks. Anna Gunn, Jacki Weaver and David Tennant are among the cast in the project, which is based on Chris Chibnall's U.K. series "Broadchurch." Reilly would later note that the ending to "Gracepoint" won't be the same as the much-ballyhooed "Broadchurch" reveal.
-- New drama "Backstrom" - which stars Rainn Wilson as an offensive, irascible detective, as he tries, and fails, to change his self-destructive behavior - has been picked up for 13 episodes. Executive producer Hart Hanson is generating material and production is set to begin in March.
-- Adventure series "Hieroglyph" - set in ancient Egypt, where fantasy and reality intertwined - likewise has a 13-episode order. Pre-production is currently going on in Santa Fe and Morocco. Three scripts and a series bible have already been written.
-- "Gotham," the network's Batman origin story from Bruno Heller, has been ordered to pilot but they are prepping it as a series. Staffing is set to begin in mid-February in anticipation of having scripts at the ready for immediate production.
-- "The Middle Man," from writer Glenn Gordon Caron and director Ben Affleck, has five scripts completed and casting is underway. Set in 1960s Boston, the drama explores the unique relationship between an FBI agent charged with taking down the Italian-American mafia and his confidential informant, an Irish-American gangster.
-- Multi-camera "Mulaney," featuring comedian John Mulaney, has a six-episode order as previously announced. The show's revised pilot was shot last Friday and four other scripts are already complete.
-- Reilly has similar ambitions for "Cabot College," a multi-camera comedy from writer Matt Hubbard and fellow executive producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. Said effort revolves around a women's college that, for the first time in its history, begins accepting men.
-- And lastly, in what Reilly describes as "the template for what I want to do with comedies," the single-camera "Fatrick" goes into production shortly in anticipation of a series order in early February. The project, from writers Corey Nickerson and directors Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, revolves around Patrick, a 30-something moving man and formerly fat kid, is forced to face the damage caused by years of being Fatrick: a chubby little kid just trying to survive.
Reilly added that "a few more" projects will be picked up for the upcoming season as well as others targeted for the 2015-16 season.
Other topics covered during the session:
-- No decision on the "The X Factor" front. "If the show were to come back, it would not be in the current format that we have," Reilly said. "But the fact is we've made no decision on it." Adding, "we'll make that decision over the next month."
-- "Sleepy Hollow" will return next season for 13 episodes. "We may do a few more, this is not a magic number." Reilly added that production on the new season will begin in March, allowing them to run all 13 in the fall without any breaks.
-- Reilly was particularly bullish on "Gotham," saying, "This is all of the classic Batman characters, with a young Bruce Wayne, with a Detective Gordon before he's Commissioner Gordon, with the Penguin, the Riddler, the Joker. All of those characters are going to arc and become who they are. What events led up to these characters becoming who they are such as Catwoman, as Gotham is teetering on the edge -- I've read the script. It's really good. So it's going to be this operatic soap that has a slightly larger than life quality, and we will arc a young Bruce Wayne from a child into the final episode of the series, when he will put on the cape." He added that casting is still being determined but he expects Bruce Wayne to be around 12-years-old.
-- And finally, Reilly said negotiations are underway for "Bones" to return for a 10th season. "We've got to make a business deal but I think we'll work that out." He expects Stephen Nathan to serve as showrunner while Hart Hanson focuses on "Backstrom." Things are a little murkier for "The Mindy Project." Reilly admitted that he loves the show however "the ratings are - for us - not where I wish they should be."