FOX Looks To Sci-Fi, Fantasy This Fall; MacFarlane In Space

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Fox network is calling on superpowers and Seth MacFarlane to boost ratings this fall.

"The Orville," a new space adventure starring and produced by MacFarlane, is set 400 years in the future and follows the adventures of an exploratory spaceship.

"This is Seth's passion project," Dana Walden, Fox Television Group chairman and CEO, said Monday in a teleconference detailing the 2017-18 schedule for the network that's No. 4 among total viewers.

The multitalented MacFarlane, who contributes the animated comedy "Family Guy" to Fox, is a science buff who brought the documentary "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" to the network in 2014.

A clip of "The Orville" shown at Fox's presentation to advertisers had a distinct tongue-in-cheek "Galaxy Quest" tone.

 

Also debuting this fall is "The Gifted," about a suburban couple who discovers their children have mutant powers. Stephen Moyer ("True Blood") and Amy Acker ("Person of Interest") will star in the drama that Walden called "big, cinematic and commercial" and is Fox's first with the Marvel factory.

Comedy will get the fantasy and sci-fi touch at Fox with "Ghosted." The sitcom about two partners exploring unexplained phenomena in Los Angeles stars Craig Robinson of "The Office" and Adam Scott of "Parks and Recreation."

Continuing the theme is "The X-Files," the onetime Fox staple that will make its second appearance as an "event series" with a 10-episode midseason run starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.

Fox will have music as well, with returning series "Empire" and "Star" and the live musicals "Rent" and "A Christmas Story."

But it won't have "American Idol," which ended its run on Fox in 2016 and is being revived next year by ABC. Walden said Fox was interested in bringing back the show in 2020 with changes for a new generation of viewers but couldn't reach an agreement with producer FremantleMedia.

"It feels bad knowing it's coming back on another network," she said. But Fox felt it would be "extremely fraudulent" recycling the show so soon after what was billed as its farewell season, and in light of how sharply its ratings had dropped from its once-stellar No. 1 position.

Walden and fellow Fox Television Group chair and CEO Gary Newman emphasized their effort to use established shows to support newer shows, such as the pairing of "Lucifer" and "The Gifted" on Monday and "Empire" and "Star" on Thursday.

"New Girl" is getting another season, its last, but others that aren't so lucky include canceled shows "Pitch," ''Rosewood," ''Scream Queens," ''Sleepy Hollow," ''Son of Zorn," ''APB" and "Making History."

Like NBC, which announced its fall schedule Sunday, Fox is holding back several new series for midseason. It's another indication that the once entrenched September-to-May network schedule has given way to efforts to reduce repeats amid increased competition from cable and streaming.

Other broadcast networks will present their upcoming program lineups to advertisers in New York this week.

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