Fox’s Biggest Bets for Fall: Simon Cowell and Dinosaurs

Simon Cowell

Fox President Kevin Reilly pretty much spelled out the importance of Simon Cowell’s “X Factor” to the network, saying the network had built its fall schedule around the competition that will take up two and a half hours of weekly prime time real estate on the schedule. 

The “X Factor” TCA panel certainly attested to interest in the new show, with a packed Beverly Hilton ballroom that even included Chef Gordon Ramsay.  The main course at an earlier session. the chef stuck around to watch Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger and the rest of the live ”X Factor” panel – and Cowell, who was present via live video hookup.  We happened to be next to the Chef as he responded with a laugh here, a comment under his breath there, clearly into the whole “X Factor”-Cowell oeuvre.  Reilly  referred to Cowell as having a “dark charm” that’s irresistible.  That could describe the chef as well.            

 The panel gave a taste of the all-too-familiar Abdul on the highwire feeling, as her statements meandered.  Would she make sense?  Or fall?  Abdul told the assembled writers that “Simon is turning into me,” for example.  Say what?  She meant he’s a “pussycat” on the new show.  Time will tell.

ALSO:  Another Fox gamble is the modern family-in-prehistoric-times “Terra Nova,” with a producing team that includes “24’s” Brannon Braga — and has Steven Spielberg’s imprimatur.  Many questions had to do with the special effects dinosaurs that inhabit this hostile environment, and whether the “Terra Nova” team could get the episodes finished in time.  Producers were quick to insist they’re going to make it – even though they allowed that there was a “learning curve” for the innovative motion capture photography and CGI techniques being used on the show.  However,  the family at the center of the series has to be relatable, stressed  Executive Producer Jose Molina.  “If the audience doesn’t care about them, it doesn’t matter how great the dinosaurs look.”

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