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Fox stepping out with dance show

Fall lineup also adds comedies, Sykes as host

Fox will try dancing in the fall to match its singing in the spring.

The network also will add four new comedies and a talk show hosted by comedian Wanda Sykes this fall and give “Dollhouse” creator Joss Whedon another chance.

Fox was first up this week among broadcast networks announcing next season’s schedules at a time of nervousness in the industry, with economic hard times taking a bite out of advertising revenue.

It will end this season as the second most popular network behind CBS and tops among the young viewers it actively courts. Yet it has seen double-digit viewership declines, in part because of smaller audiences for “American Idol,” although that remains television’s most popular show.

Fox will air a season of its popular summer competition, “So You Think You Can Dance,” next fall on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, mirroring the “Idol” midseason schedule.

“It delivers a distinct and different audience than the other dance show (ABC’s ‘Dancing With the Stars’) and a younger audience,” said Kevin Reilly, Fox entertainment president.

Former “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Whedon has enthusiastic fans, and Fox is hoping they help “Dollhouse” pull through.

The heavily promoted sci-fi series, with Eliza Dushku as the world’s most costly and unusual call girl, was a ratings disappointment since its February debut, and it was thought a long shot for renewal.

Yet in this economy, it’s often better to stick with a known quantity than try something new that could get even lower ratings, Reilly said.

The opposite determination was made on “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” a costly series to produce that was canceled.

Fox announced commitments to six new series next season, three starting in the fall and three midseason.

The top priority seems to be the comedy “Glee,” which uses a pop-music soundtrack for a series about a high school glee club. Fox took the unusual step of airing its pilot on Tuesday following “American Idol,” though remaining episodes will wait until fall.

“It is probably the largest grass-roots screening in history,” Reilly said.

Also coming in the fall is “Brothers,” which features former National Football League star Michael Strahan as an ex-NFL player going home to live with his mom.

“The Cleveland Show,” an animated spin-off featuring a “Family Guy” neighbor, will debut in the fall, replacing the long-running “King of the Hill,” which will end with a one-hour episode.

Fox is also canceling two long-running game shows, “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” and “Don’t Forget the Lyrics.”

Sykes will host a late-night Saturday round-table talk show that will riff off the news of the week. It will debut in November.

“American Idol” and “24,” as usual, will begin their seasons in January.

New midseason shows include “Human Target,” about a contractor who will do just about anything to keep clients alive, and “Past Life,” an emotional thriller based on the book “The Reincarnationist.”

The midseason comedy is “Sons of Tucson,” directed by Todd Holland of “Malcolm in the Middle.”

Fox’s biggest scheduling shift is moving the sophomore success “Fringe” to Thursdays at 9 p.m. – perhaps the most challenging time slot in TV opposite, barring unexpected shifts by ABC (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and CBS (“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”).

Fox experimented last season with “Fringe” in airing the show with fewer commercials than normal, pricing them higher than typical ad time.

That experiment will end, largely for economic reasons, said Jon Nesvig, Fox sales chief.

Tags: television