NEW YORK - Fox will cut "American Idol" to one night for several weeks next spring, part of a reset for a struggling network that will have 12 new series in the coming year including the much-awaited "Batman" prequel "Gotham."
The network announced Monday that it will also break up its Sunday animation block by moving in the critical favorite "Brooklyn Nine Nine." Two of its Tuesday-night comedies will be replaced by an unscripted show that imagines people setting up a new society in an undeveloped area.
"American Idol" will air for some 37 hours next winter and spring, compared to the 50-plus hours that have been running for years, Fox entertainment chief Kevin Reilly said. After the initial auditions, the series will probably air a two-hour show once a week. The show's decline from television's biggest phenomenon to just another moderately successful series, combined with a failure to mint new hits, made this season a tough one for Fox.
"'Idol' is not going to come back to be the ratings champion it once was," Reilly said. "But we believe the show can be on for many years to come."
He compared it to CBS' "Survivor," once a sensation but now a dependable, mid-level hit - coincidentally one that frequently beats "Idol" in the ratings.
The "Idol" decline meant fewer people have tuned in live to Fox this season. With network TV's youngest audience, Fox is also hit harder than its rivals in the switch to other forms of viewing that doesn't show up in traditional overnight Nielsen ratings - streaming online, DVR usage and video on demand, Reilly said.
Five of Fox's new series already have a place on Fox's fall schedule, with the rest to come later in the season. "Gotham" has the biggest buzz - Fox says a trailer online has already been seen 6 million times - and will air Monday nights. It follows a 12-year-old future caped crusader in a city teeming with crime. Although Jada Pinkett Smith will play a new character, crime boss Fish Mooney, most of the show's characters will be familiar to followers of the comic book series.
The unscripted "Utopia" will air two episodes a week in the fall, on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Other new series to premiere in the fall are the youthful soap "Red Band Society," a 10-episode series "Gracepoint," based on the British drama "Broadchurch," and "Mulaney," starring John Mulaney as a struggling standup comic.
Fox is canceling "Enlisted," ''Dads," ''Rake" and "Surviving Jack," ''Almost Human" and "The X-Factor."
Other new series planned by Fox for next season:
"Backstrom," a crime procedural starring Rainn Wilson of "The Office" as a detective battling his own self-destructive impulses.
"Empire," a drama from Lee Daniels and Danny Strong of "The Butler" about an ailing hip-hop music executive whose children are bidding to inherit his business.
"Heiroglyph," an action series set in ancient Egypt.
"Wayward Pines," a 10-episode thriller from "The Sixth Sense" maker M. Night Shyamalan, based on the novel "Pines."
"Bordertown," an animated comedy from "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane about the Buckwalds and Gonzalezes, two families living in a Southwest desert town.
"The Last Man on Earth," a comedy set in 2022 starring Will Forte as a banker who is the only human left alive after a catastrophic event.
"Weird Loners," a comedy about four people who have trouble maintaining relationships stuck in a Queens, New York, town house.