Fox is cancelling “America’s Most Wanted,” the Saturday night show that has profiled criminals on the lam since 1988, and replacing it on the network’s regular schedule with reruns.
The network, as part of its new season schedule announcement on Monday, said it will introduce eight new series next year. They include Simon Cowell’s talent show “The X Factor,” which was given time slots in the fall similar to “American Idol.”
Fox said it would do four, two-hour “America’s Most Wanted” specials next season, but it will no longer be a regular fixture on the network schedule. The series, hosted by John Walsh, debuted in April 1988 and has been on Fox’s Saturdaynight schedule since 1994.
“We have not made money on the show for a while,” said Kevin Reilly, Fox’s entertainment president. “It was economically getting to the place where it was not viable anymore, but we wanted to keep the concept alive.”
Instead, Fox will use the time slot to repeat some of its dramas that appeared earlier in the week, a cost-saving trend followed by other networks.
“America’s Most Wanted” had a longer history as a regular series on Fox than even “The Simpsons,” the cartoon first seen as part of “The Tracey Ullman Show” in 1987 before becoming a series two years later.
Fox is excited about Cowell’s return, following his exit as an “American Idol” judge last year. “The X Factor” has Cowell, Paula Abdul, Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Cheryl Cole as judges, and has 90 minutes in prime time on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
“There’s an excitement and a buzz around the show that we’ve never seen before,” said Peter Rice, Fox network chairman, noting that “The X Factor” drew more people to its auditions than “Idol” ever has.
If the show is a success it could be a game-changer for Fox, which has suffered in the ratings in the fall for years because “American Idol” doesn’t begin until January.
Actress Zooey Deschanel will star in a new Fox comedy this fall tentatively titled “New Girl.” She plays a woman in her late 20s who moves in with three single guys after a bad breakup.
Another new Fox comedy, “I Hate My Teenage Daughter,” features Jaime Pressly and Katie Finneran playing single moms to teen-age daughters, realizing the girls are exactly like the kids that once tormented them in high school.
Fox’s new series also include the long-awaited debut of “Terra Nova,” Steven Spielberg’s drama that sends a futuristic family back to prehistoric times. The series was filmed in Australia and is filled with special effects.
Former “24” star Keifer Sutherland has been signed to appear in the new drama “Touch,” as the father of a special needs child who also has special mental abilities. The show’s pilot hasn’t been filmed and it doesn’t yet have a slot in Fox’s schedule.