Could this be a truce?
Fox is extending an olive branch to ABC when it comes to American Idol -- sort of.
“We’re really fine with the show continuing,” Fox co-chairman and co-CEO Gary Newman told reporters at Fox’s winter Television Critics Association press tour on Thursday. “I wish them a little bit of luck -- not too much. We’ll see what they can do.”
Newman echoed previous comments that the network has made on the existence of the Idol revival, which launches Sunday, March 11, less than two years after the show’s original run wrapped on Fox. The network premieres its own six-week singing competition series, The Four: Battle for Stardom, with Sean “Diddy” Combs, Meghan Trainor, Fergie, Charlie Walk and DJ Khaled, on Thursday.
“We did bring the show to an end,” Newman said of Idol. “The economics simply weren’t working anymore. We couldn’t get to a place with the producers where we could make changes to the format to make it more economical and heighten the intensity of the series.”
Newman’s statements are a step back from what Fox co-chairman and co-CEO Dana Walden said in May, when she called ABC accelerating the Idol reboot back to TV “fraudulent.”
"All of our research and all of our fan forums supported that notion," Walden said at the time, adding that it was “too early.” "We did not see the fan excitement and enthusiasm for the show to come back that [production company] Fremantle did. We just had a different set of facts."
“It felt to us, sitting in those initial meetings with Fremantle, like it would be extremely fraudulent to bring the show back quickly," she added. "Our fans would not appreciate being told one thing and then have the show brought back right away. We and Fremantle just had very different points of view."
On paper, it appears as though The Four is a direct response to the Idol revival, though Fox execs will insist that it isn’t, referencing its format. On the series, singers will try to defend their coveted spots on the stage, as they are challenged individually by new singers determined to replace them. “We’re not developing it to just create some noise in the same space,” Walden said back in August after the announcement of the series.
And don’t expect a head-to-head showdown between The Four and Idol. “The Four will be off the air before American Idol premieres,” Walden said Thursday.
The Four: Battle for Stardom premieres Thursday, Jan. 4 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.