May 16, 2008 / 6:36 AM / 11 years ago

Fox yells "cut" on commercials

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Fox Broadcasting said Thursday it would drastically reduce the commercial levels of two upcoming action dramas — “Fringe” and “Dollhouse” — in an effort to reinvigorate broadcast television.

U.S. Film director Joss Whedon poses during a photo call at the 38rd edition of the Sitge's Film International Festival of Catalonia, October 9, 2005. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

Producer J.J. Abrams’ “Fringe” will kick off with a two-hour premiere in August. Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse,” which only wrapped up its pilot Friday, will be the second project and begin in January.

Calling it “remote-free TV,” Fox Entertainment chairman Peter Liguori told advertisers during its “upfront” presentation that broadcast TV needed “a jolt” and a focus on the viewers — and that “the populist network” was just the company to do it.

“We’re going to have less commercials, less promotional time and less reason for viewers to use the remote,” Liguori said. “We’re going to have more character, more content, more value.”

“Remote-free TV. It’s a simple concept and potentially revolutionary,” he said. “We’re going to redefine the viewing experience.”

Both “Fringe” and “Dollhouse” would have network commercial loads of about five minutes per hour, about half the usual. The commercial pods also would be shorter, and they would have about half the promo load as well, all to enhance the viewing experience. Liguori and ad sales chief Jon Nesvig acknowledged that there was a risk but that the network was committed to doing those two shows that way.

“Fringe” and “Dollhouse” were the first two new programs shown to the advertisers. “Dollhouse” will air at 8 p.m. beginning in January, just behind “24.” The marketing campaign for “Fringe” began in New York newspapers Thursday.

Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly said “Fringe” had already “exceeded our very high expectations.” Reilly said that “Dollhouse” had just wrapped production on the pilot but that the network already had seen seven scripts for the show.

“I’m confident that this will become the next tentpole series for Fox,” Reilly said.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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