Fox is about to make television history by becoming the first broadcast network to have more regularly scheduled reality series than scripted series in its prime- time lineup during the TV season.
The network is poised to unveil a November season schedule that includes nine hours of reality programming and just six hours of series with plot lines and actual actors with SAG cards.
This, you may notice, is vastly different from the November season prime-time lineup Fox suits unveiled to advertisers last May, when they announced their revolutionary new year-round programming concept, consisting of a summer season, baseball, a November season and a January season, aka " 'American Idol' Returns" season.
Fox promised back in May that on Mondays in November, "The OC" knockoff "North Shore" would be followed by plastic surgery beauty competition "The Swan 2." But "North Shore," which debuted in the summer, has already tanked, and Fox has moved it to Thursday nights in the hopes it will benefit from proximity to that night's "The O.C." Instead of "North Shore," Monday nights in November will start with the reality series "Trading Spouses."
And back in May, Fox said Tuesday would start with the reality series "The Billionaire" (now called "The Rebel Billionaire") -- an "Apprentice" rip-off starring Virgin Records/ Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson as a Donald Trump-type with better hair and less body fat. That would be followed at 9 by the doctor drama "House." This was still the case at press time.
Wednesdays in November were to have featured four sitcoms: "That '70s Show," "Quintuplets," "Bernie Mac" and "Method & Red." Grievously, "Method & Red," which debuted in the summer, was already dead by September, and "Bernie Mac" has been put on hiatus because Mac is allegedly in need of R&R after making a couple of movies or something. In place of those two comedies, Fox has scheduled the reality series "Nanny 911."
For Thursday nights in November, Fox logged "The O.C." and "Tru Calling" but has since dumped "Tru" in favor of "North Shore." The good news is that Thursday doesn't add to the reality count -- Fox doesn't want to squander its good stuff on this killer night.
Friday was going to feature the boxing competition "The Next Great Champ," followed by "The Jury." Canceled and canceled. Fox's new plans for the night feature "Totally Outrageous Behavior" and "World's Craziest Videos," followed by "Renovate My Family."
Fox's Saturday, perhaps the most stable lineup in broadcast TV: "Cops," "Cops" rerun and "AMW: America Fights Back."
And on Sundays in November, Fox promised "King of the Hill," "Malcolm in the Middle," "The Simpsons" and "Arrested Development," followed by the reality series "The Partner," which is DOA, replaced by another reality series: "My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss."
There you have it. Nine hours of reality out of 15 prime-time hours. This means, of course, that the real creative force behind the Fox broadcast network these days is Mike Darnell, the man who brought you "When Animals Attack," "American Idol," "Temptation Island" and "The Simple Life," and whose name is most often seen in print followed by "evil genius."