Fox talks up new singing show

Los Angeles Times - - TELEVISION - — Yvonne Vil­lar­real

“Amer­i­can Idol” who? Top on Fox’s agenda dur­ing the net­work’s por­tion of pan­els Tues­day at the press tour was talk­ing up it’s new singing com­pe­ti­tion se­ries slated for next year, “The Four.”

The new re­al­ity com­pe­ti­tion not only fills the void left by “Amer­i­can Idol,” which had long been a tent­pole se­ries in the genre, but “The Four” also serves as a bit of ret­ri­bu­tion as “Amer­i­can Idol” jumps to ABC.

“Its con­cept feels fresh and timely, and it has in­her­ent ur­gency,” Fox Tele­vi­sion Group Co-Chair­man Dana Walden told re­porters.

“The Four,” the show’s work­ing ti­tle, be­gins where most singing com­pe­ti­tions end: with the fi­nal­ists. Each week, four singers se­lected from their au­di­tions by a panel of mu­sic ex­perts will sing against chal­lengers, which could in­clude view­ers, to keep their spot on the show. The panel of mu­sic ex­perts — not yet cast — will guide the win­ner’s ca­reer. Rob Wade, Fox’s head of al­ter­na­tive pro­gram­ming, de­scribed “The Four” as “‘Game of Thrones’ with bet­ter singing and less nu­dity.” The se­ries is based on an Is­raeli for­mat.

“The prize is unique. It’s de­signed to dis­cover and build the ca­reer of a new mu­sic star — and that’s some­thing we feel has been miss­ing lately in mu­sic com­pe­ti­tions,” Walden said. “They’ve be­come much more about celebrity pan­els and much less about star­mak­ing.”

When it was im­plied that some might view the se­ries as Fox’s at­tempt to sab­o­tage ABC’s run of “Amer­i­can Idol,” Walden jok­ingly dead­panned: “Re­ally?”

A pre­miere date has not been an­nounced, but the se­ries is ex­pected to launch next year. It likely won’t run against “The Voice” or “Amer­i­can Idol,” Walden said.

“We re­ally be­lieve in this show,” she said. “We’re not de­vel­op­ing it to just try to cre­ate some noise in the same space.”

Wade also noted that the se­ries was be­ing treated as an event and, there­fore, would have a shorter run than most singing com­pe­ti­tion se­ries.

Ques­tions re­mained about the net­work’s de­ci­sion to can­cel “Amer­i­can Idol” and, more so, how it let the show slip away to ABC — top­ics Walden has ad­dressed be­fore. She again cited high cost and dwin­dling rat­ings.

When Walden was asked who was mak­ing a mis­take — Fox for can­cel­ing the show or ABC for re­viv­ing it so soon af­ter it went off the air — Walden wryly shot back, “ABC ... I’m just kid­ding.”

Time was also spent dis­cussing the fu­ture of “24.” Though “24: Legacy” won’t live on, Walden and David Mad­den, pres­i­dent of en­ter­tain­ment at Fox Broad­cast­ing Co., made it clear the “24” brand is not dead at Fox. “Per­haps it will live in a more an­tho­log­i­cal story fran­chise,” Walden said.

Talks of its next pos­si­ble it­er­a­tion have be­gun with ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers Howard Gor­don ad Brian Grazer. And Mad­den said the next ver­sion of “24” will likely not be aligned to the show’s fic­tional coun­tert­er­ror­ism or­ga­ni­za­tion, CTU.

“We want to take the same kind of tick­ing clock and ap­ply it to some­thing else,” Mad­den said.

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