Fox Broadcasting has finally become a full-time, seven-night-a-week TV network. But from the looks of the schedule it announced yesterday, Fox has had to take some of the edge off its cutting-edge approach to programming to do it.
Fox will still be the youngest and most hip network by far next fall, with a new variety show from Robert Townsend and a sitcom featuring Queen Latifah among 11 new shows. But it will also have a sitcom featuring Don Rickles and a talk show with Chevy Chase, neither of whom are exactly twentysomething.
Furthermore, Fox has renewed several shows that have very uncertain futures and maybe should have been retired. "In Living Color," for example, will be brought back despite the loss of the Wayan brothers. The teen drama "Beverly Hills, 90210" will continue despite the characters' graduation from high school. And "Roc," the sitcom starring Baltimore's Charles Dutton, will return, but it will no longer be broadcast live. "Roc" will also move from Sundays to Tuesday night at 8.
Fox Chairman Lucy Salhany said the network was consciously trying for an older look in hopes of broadening its demographic base beyond teens and young adults.
"Along with the challenge of programming a full seven nights of prime time for the first time comes the opportunity to diversify our program schedule," she said yesterday. "I'm extremely proud of our program development this year and believe these programs, strategically scheduled, will broaden our audience."
But Fox canceled one of its only shows with any appeal to an older audience, Robert De Niro's "Tribeca." The fourth network has had virtually no success with viewers 30 years old and older, except for its across-the-board hits "The Simpsons" and "Married . . . With Children."
In addition to "Tribeca," other series Fox canceled yesterday are the critically acclaimed "Class of '96," "Parker Lewis," "Flying Blind," "The Edge," "Shaky Ground," "Sightings" and "Down the Shore."
In addition to "Beverly Hills, 90210," "In Living Color" and "Roc," also returning will be "America's Most Wanted," "Cops," "Herman's Head," "Married . . . With Children," "Martin," "Melrose Place" and "The Simpsons."
"Martin" will move from Thursdays to Sunday night at 8.
The new shows are:
* "Daddy Dearest" -- starring comedian Richard Lewis as a divorced psychologist and Don Rickles as his cantankerous live-in father.
* "Sinbad" -- starring comedian Sinbad as a bachelor video-game designer whose life changes radically when he takes responsibility for raising two children.
* "My Girls" -- featuring Queen Latifah, Kim Coles, Kim Fields and Erika Alexander as four outspoken and upwardly mobile single women in Brooklyn.
* "Buddy Blues" -- a sitcom about a mismatched pair of cops in a small California town.
* "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr." -- an action-adventure set in the Old West that stars Bruce Campbell as bounty hunter Brisco County Jr.
* "The X-Files" -- drama about an unconventional FBI agent and his young female partner who delve into a group of classified and unsolved cases, which involve unexplained paranormal phenomena.
* "Townsend Television" -- a variety series starring Robert Townsend, the writer and director of "Hollywood Shuffle" and "The Five Heartbeats." The hourlong program will feature music, sketches, stand-up comedy and film pieces. It will air at 7 Sunday nights opposite "60 Minutes."
* "Front Page" -- a weekly prime-time newsmagazine premiering this summer. Correspondents for the 60-minute program include Ron Reagan Jr., Andria Hall, Tony Harris, Josh Mankiewicz and Vicki Liviakis.
* "The Chevy Chase Show" -- late-night talk show that debuts Sept. 7. It will start at 11 weeknights, putting it head-to-head with local newscasts and giving it a half-hour headstart on a field crowded with Jay Leno, David Letterman and others.