March 4, 2014

THE SKED: FOX Retreats, Shifts “American Idol”

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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AMERICAN IDOL used to be the school bully; now it cringes in the network equivalent of the assistant principal’s office.  FOX announced today that as of March 13, Idol is fleeing its Big Bang Theory competition and shifting to 9PM on Thursdays, where on March 27 (as previously announced) it will shrink to half an hour, followed at 9:30PM by the new sitcom SURVIVING JACK.  The network is moving HELL’S KITCHEN to the Thursday 8PM slot, where it will be beaten up by Big Bang Theory but at much lower cost to FOX.  Meanwhile, the comatose RAKE will take the Friday 8PM slot where Hell’s Kitchen was originally meant to go as it waits to receive official notice that the dirt has been shoveled over its face.

All of these moves are completely logical.  With The X Factor gone, FOX desperately needs to preserve the sinking Idol franchise, and the fact is that even after a multitude of rules and judge changes, Idol is no longer capable of doing battle with Big Bang Theory.  It may not regain much of its rating at 9PM, but with comparatively weak competition from the elderly Grey’s Anatomy and 2 1/2 Men, and NBC basically AWOL with Hollywood Game Night, it should at least hold steady at its diminished level.  Nothing else is going to beat Big Bang either, so throwing a low-priced reality show against it is expedient.  And nothing can save Rake.

Still, the speed of Idol‘s crash is remarkable.  Its rating has been cut in half over the past 2 seasons, and that was half of two years earlier. Incredibly, if FOX can’t halt the decline, it will barely even earn its keep in another season or two, and the network has nothing in sight that can replace Idol.  It’s a tough, tough business.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."