LOS ANGELES -- Fox is going to use the NFL and a possible ripped-from-the-headlines movie on O. J. Simpson to jump start the fall season three weeks before the other networks.
The first new Fox series will premiere on Aug. 26, and the big fall rollout will be Labor Day, Sept. 4, said Fox Entertainment President Sandy Grushow. The other networks are not scheduled to start their new seasons until Sept. 18.
"The NFL on Fox starts Sept. 4 and we are going to use that to roll out our entire prime-time lineup," Grushow said.
Part of that may include a docudrama on Simpson, which would air Sept. 6, to launch the network's Tuesday night movie lineup.
"If we make the movie, it will air then -- in late summer or early fall," Grushow said. "But, right now, we do not have a go-picture and we won't have a go-picture until we see the script."
During his press conference, Grushow was peppered with questions about the film.
Fox is the only network so far to say it wants to make a Simpson movie. But Fox has been playing cat-and-mouse with reporters here -- saying maybe it'll make the film, maybe it won't -- in a not-so-subtle attempt to gauge reaction.
Even though Grushow said he has not seen a script, he admitted Fox has hired a director and is casting. If it does proceed with the film it would air in about seven weeks, a new record for rushing from an event to a film.
Grushow also got several tough questions yesterday on the cancellation of "Roc" and the network's unwillingness to show a gay kiss in the season's finale of "Melrose Place."
He said Fox feared it would lose as much as $1 million in advertiser pullout if it showed the gay kiss and was "unwilling to ++ take that risk."
As for the cancellation of "Roc," Grushow said, "We gave 'Roc' a chance that a lot of shows would have welcomed to establish itself between 'In Living Color' and 'Married . . . With Children,' and it failed to do that."