Reality for Fox is that reality show craze is done

— Fox's view on TV's "reality show" craze? Been there, done that.

While network executives salute CBS' success with "Survivor" or NBC's with "Fear Factor," they also recognize the pitfalls in trying to "mask" programming weaknesses with quick-hit reality programs.

Sandy Grushow, Fox Television president, warns of networks doing that: "They're going to fail. We know. Because it happened to Fox."

Once slammed by critics for relying on "sleaze" such as "When Animals Attack," Fox crows about having "the youngest block of successful scripted programming on any network." Speaking to TV critics, Grushow cited the sitcoms "Malcolm in the Middle," "Titus," "That '70s Show" and "Grounded for Life," along with fantasy hour "Dark Angel."

Fox's "long-term health and stability" had become a crucial concern after a decade of repeated image shuffling both on-screen and off, Grushow said. Last year's arrival of programming chief Gail Berman, who'd overseen development of "Malcolm" while running the Regency TV studio, fixed Fox's emphasis on the scripted genres that Grushow says have "always been the medium's bread and butter."

Yet, he added, "No network can compete in today's marketplace without reality." Fox's summer schedule includes the reality-improvisation-detective hybrid "Murder in Small Town X" (premiering Tuesday).

Berman said she's looking to also develop "scripted shows in new and compelling ways." One example: Fox's buzzed-about fall series "24," which moves in real-time over 24 episodes.


Fox's fall shows will premiere on a staggered schedule to take promotional advantage of televising October's World Series. While Saturday, Tuesday and Friday shows will arrive in September, Monday's "Boston Public" and "Ally McBeal" won't be back until Oct. 22. "24" debuts Oct. 30. "Temptation Island 2" premieres Oct. 31. The first week of November marks the returns of "Malcolm," "The X-Files," "Grounded for Life," "Titus" and the new "Bernie Mac Show."

Chris Carter will continue to executive produce "The X-Files" for the 2001-02 season.

"Star Trek: Voyager's" Jeri Ryan joins "Boston Public" as a lawyer who returns to teaching.

Four new actors join "Ally McBeal": Regina Hall, Josh Hopkins, James Marsden and Julianne Nicholson.


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