November 7, 2008 / 8:50 AM / 11 years ago

Fox launches Friday sci-fi block

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Fox has shaken up its midseason plans, establishing a Friday night sci-fi block and giving a new drama series an “American Idol” lead-in.

Eliza Dushku of "Dollhouse" arrives at the Fox Upfront after-party in New York's Central Park, May 15, 2008. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

The network plans to air Joss Whedon’s highly anticipated new series “Dollhouse” on Fridays at 9 p.m., following the low-rated “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” which will move from its current Monday time period.

Friday is the second-least-watched night of the week, ahead of Saturday. Monday, on the other hand, is the most popular night, according to Nielsen Media Research.

“Dollhouse” stars Eliza Dushku as an agent for a secret organization that imprints its operatives with skills and personalities. The drama was originally scheduled to air with “24” on Mondays in midseason but has been dogged by creative concerns. Instead, Mondays will feature “House” at 8 p.m. and “24” at 9 p.m.

“American Idol” and “Fringe” will still partner on Tuesdays as planned, but Wednesday will no longer pair “House” and the “Idol” results show. With “House” shifted to Monday, “Idol” has been switched to 8 p.m. and will give TV’s most powerful lead-in to new drama “Lie to Me,” which stars Tim Roth as a “human lie detector.”

Rather than a reality block of “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Secret Millionaire” on Thursdays, Fox will air “Kitchen” at 9 p.m. with a lead-in from “Bones.” Though this time period isn’t as preferable as the crime drama’s current Wednesday slot — where it has been performing strongly this fall and would have resulted in an “Idol” pairing — it’s still a promotion from Fox’s original plan to shift “Bones” to Fridays. “Millionaire” will air in December.

Sunday’s animation lineup is unchanged, though game show “Hole in the Wall,” which some assumed would be canceled, will help launch the comedy block in the 7 p.m. hour.

Absent from the current schedule: Live-action comedy or new reality shows. Also, there are no dates yet for new animated titles such as “The Cleveland Show,” a spinoff from “Family Guy.”

“Dollhouse” is part of Fox’s Remote-Free TV plan along with “Fringe,” where advertisers pay a premium to sponsor a show in exchange for Fox running about half as many ads per hour. In the case of “Fringe,” the move has been successful, say media buyers who have studied the results. Fox says that even though “Dollhouse” changed time periods to Fridays, it will run as Remote-Free TV.

Fox is the first network to announce its revised midseason lineup, though similarly reconfigured plans are expected from the other broadcasters.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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