PASADENA, Calif. – With plans to divorce its studio, which is headed to Disney, will the Fox broadcast network continue to be the home of The Simpsons, Empire and Family Guy?
Don’t believe widespread reports that Fox will turn into an all-news and sports network — speculation based on elliptical remarks from Fox owner Rupert Murdoch — Fox’s top entertainment executives told the kickoff session of the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour Thursday.
“There’s been a little bit of confusion over that,” says Dana Walden, chairman and CEO of Fox Television Group, which oversees both the studio and network. Murdoch said 80% of the programming on the “new Fox” will be live, but Walden says “the network will continue entertainment programming,” and open its doors to outside studios such as Sony, Lionsgate and MGM, also unaligned with networks, in exchange for an ownership stake in their shows.
Her partner, Gary Newman, also said none of Fox’s existing series will move to ABC, nor is ABC planning to reinvent 20th Century Fox’s programming development. “They’re not acquiring Fox to turn it into some kind of PG company, to Disney-fy it, as (Disney chief) Bob (Iger) said.”
Disney last month struck a $52 billion deal to buy assets from 21st Century Fox, including its TV and movie studios and FX and National Geographic networks — but not the Fox network, which would remain with a company being dubbed “new Fox” that also includes broadcast stations, Fox News Channel and Fox Sports.
The studio’s stable of producers, including Ryan Murphy, expressed concern. “I got a call from Murdoch and I got a call from Iger, and I said point blank, ‘The stuff I do is not Disney. Am I going to have to put Mickey Mouse in American Horror Story? And he said no, the reason Disney was buying Fox was because they believed in the assets and they believed in the creators. I’m sort of interested to see what that company is going to look like before I make any decisions about where I’m going to go.”
But for now, it’s “business as usual,” the executives repeatedly said, with the Disney deal not expected to close for 12 to 18…