Whedon, Abrams and FOX's 'High-Class Problem'


FOX has arguably the most fanboy-friendly lineup of any network for 2008-09, with high-profile series from both J.J. Abrams ("Fringe") and Joss Whedon ("Dollhouse").

Deciding how to schedule the two shows, FOX Entertainment President Kevin Reilly admits, was a "high-class problem." "Fringe," which Abrams co-wrote with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman ("Transformers," "Alias"), wound up with a prime spot on the fall schedule, where it will follow "House" on Tuesday nights. Whedon's "Dollhouse," meanwhile, will join the network in January, pairing with "24" on Monday nights.

"When it really came down to it, we had a jump-start with 'Fringe,'" Reilly explains, noting that the show has been in development since last summer. "They wrote the script, [the two-hour pilot] is in the can and finished and locked. ... Jeff Pinkner, who worked with J.J. and the guys on 'Alias' and 'Lost,' is reteaming with them to kind of take the reins of the show. It just felt like the whole machine was cranked up."

"Dollhouse" finished shooting its Whedon-directed pilot only last week, although the show is at least ahead of the curve on the script front; Whedon brought the show to FOX with seven scripts already in hand (it has a 13-episode order).

"Why put the extra pressure on it?" Reilly says. "It really was a high-class problem, so we went with the bird in hand. And Joss is frankly happy to have the extra time."

Both shows will probably get the full promotional treatment from FOX as well. "Fringe" is the network's only new drama for the fall (and one of only two new shows of any kind), and Reilly is already promising a "huge campaign" leading up to its Aug. 26 premiere. "Dollhouse" will be a "linchpin of the second season," Reilly says, launching around the same time as network perennials such as "24" and "American Idol."

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