NEW YORK (AP) — Something was missing when Fox announced its plans for the fall television season: a schedule.
It was one of several signs of how business has changed since the networks resumed their annual glitzy presentations to advertisers, which had been suspended because of the pandemic. Both NBC and Fox, which started the week Monday, emphasized that the flagship networks are now part of larger media companies.
Networks can still boast of star power. Susan Sarandon, George Lopez, Raymond Lee, Camila Cabello and Trace Adkins will be featured in new contexts. Kelly Clarkson sang to open NBC’s show and Miley Cyrus performed to close it.
The traditional presentations usually show what new shows are coming, what old shows are leaving, and when they air during the week and year. While fixed schedules remain, they are obsolete for many viewers who are getting used to choosing when to watch or stream programming for themselves.
That wasn’t part of Fox’s argument for not disclosing a timeline. Fox Entertainment CEO Charles Collier said the network is trying a “new approach” to give equal weight to its Tubi streaming service.
The hold gives Fox the flexibility to adjust its schedule to accommodate competitors’ activities. It may also have reflected Fox’s unresolved discussions with the producers of ‘911’ and ‘The Resident,’ but the network announced later Monday that the dramas had been renewed for the upcoming season.
NBC executives made it clear that advertisers could work with the broadcast network, the Peacock streaming service and cable channels like Bravo, USA, CNBC and NBC. NBC announced that all of its shows will be available on Peacock the day after they air, and that many Universal films will also be available to stream quickly.
“This is not an extension of our core business or a linchpin,” said Jeff Shell, chief executive officer of NBCUniversal. “That is our core business.”
In another example of how the times have changed, Bravo used its time at Monday’s presentation to celebrate the upcoming BravoCon Fanfest, as opposed to individual programs.
The core of the NBC programming comes from veteran producer Dick Wolf. Its shows Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD occupy the network’s Wednesday night schedule, while Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, and Law & Order: Organized Crime fill Thursday prime time .
NBC is opening the door to more diversity with a new offering, Lopez vs. Lopez, a sitcom about a working-class family starring Lopez and his real-life daughter, Mayan Lopez.
Lee stars in Quantum Leap, which NBC described as a “reimagining” of the network’s 1989-1993 sci-fi drama starring Scott Bakula. Lee, whose credits include Fox’s Prodigal Son and Tom Cruise’s upcoming film sequel Top Gun: Maverick, joins the small group of Asian Americans cast as the series leads.
It’s not the only offering that will feel familiar. The network is also bringing back John Larroquette to star in a Night Court sequel, Wolf has revived the original Law & Order, and Peacock is airing a remake of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll be up here in two years to announce the reboot of ‘This is Us,'” joked comedian Seth Meyers of NBC’s drama, which has its series finale next week.
The pandemic was still in the foreground. Meyers told the audience watching at Radio City Music Hall, “What a historic space to tell people you caught COVID.”
Pop star Cabello is entering The Voice singing competition next season. Meanwhile, fellow cast member Blake Shelton, along with Carson Daly and professional wrestler Nikki Bella, introduced a new US series, Barmageddon, in which contestants will play bar games. There was a clear lack of enthusiasm from the audience.
“We have no idea when it will air in the US,” Bella said.
“Or if,” Daly added softly.
Plans announced by Fox on Monday include expanding celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s empire. His MasterChef continues, and Fox announced that Ramsey’s series Next Level Chef will get the coveted slot after next February’s Super Bowl, which brings programming to millions of new viewers. Fox will also debut the competition show Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars next season.
Fox will also play country with “Monarch,” which has been described as “a Texas-sized, generational musical drama about America’s first country music family.” Sarandon and musician Adkins are headliners.
Actor Jamie Foxx will be behind the camera for missing persons drama Alert. The network will also be releasing a crime anthology series, Accused, which begins with someone in court and flashbacks the audience into what they’ve been accused of.
When will the new shows air? Stay tuned.
Media writer David Bauder reported from New York and television writer Lynn Elber from Los Angeles.
David Bauder and Lynn Elber, The Associated Press