We’re conditioned to assume that television executives are, among other things, professional liars. More often than not they act like miniature Obi-Wan Kenobi’s, employing variations on the Jedi mind trick to convince audiences that watching their crappy wares is a good idea. (This is precisely what allows Jerry O’Connell to keep getting pilots picked up.) So with that in mind, let’s hear it for Kevin Reilly! The former NBC entertainment president, who now holds the same position at Fox, might be our ‘person of the week’ after his performance yesterday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. In a world awash in spin and misdirection, Mr. Reilly’s blunt and hilarious honesty about his network’s programming is something to behold.
Take a look at his comments regarding the just-canceled Prison Break, which will wrap up its final season with 6-8 episodes starting on April 17th: "The show is played out." Exactly! As fans (and we use the term "fans" very loosely), we can attest that Prison Break is absolutely played out, and has been for at least two years. Not surprisingly, this fact is lost on the show’s executive producer, Matt Olmstead, who stated that the decision was made because he didn’t want to extend Prison Break to further seasons and risk becoming "a parody of itself." Newsflash, Mr. Olmstead: it already has.
Mr. Reilly didn’t just stop at Prison Break however. Regarding the much-maligned Joss Whedon show Dollhouse, which is scheduled to premiere on February 13th, the Fox exec flatly stated "if we can do some business there, that would be a great thing for the future." Don’t hurt yourself bending over backwards to make such heartfelt compliments.
And what of the Fox reality show Moment of Truth, which has episodes already in the can, but is sitting on the shelf? "Fortunately we have better options," says Mr. Reilly.
If that dig wasn’t enough, check out his thoughts on the pilot for Boldly Going Nowhere, a science-fiction sit-com in the vein of The Office from the creators of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: "When we screened it, five minutes later we said ‘let’s do it again.’"
Ha! Also: ouch.
With Mr. Reilly running things, is it any wonder that Fox has actually become quite a formidable network over the past few years? The man actually seems to have common sense! Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work. You know, Mr. Reilly is just the type of executive that could turn a sinking ship like NBC around. Oh, wait…