Network, studio in last-minute negotiations
There is a distinct possibility Fox could be arriving at the May upfronts without its longtime hit drama "House."
The network remains in last-minute negotiations with NBCUniversal, the studio that owns the series, in hopes of signing a new deal for an eighth season. However, the two sides are far apart in determining the percentage each will pay for the show's costs going forward.
NBCUniversal has given Fox an extension on the window of negotiation exclusivity. That ends April 15. If the two sides can't come to an agreement, NBCUniversal will offer the show to competing networks, including, of course, the Peacock, which would likely be more than happy to take the series away from Fox.
Another problem for both sides is that several cast members aren't signed up either. While NBCUniversal will exercise the options for Hugh Laurie and Olivia Wilde, Robert Sean Leonard, Omar Epps and Lisa Edelstein are unsigned for a new season and their deals would have to reupped if they were to continue.
Leonard has already committed to a Broadway revival of "Born Yesterday" that will coincide with the production of the new season of "House." Like most fall shows, production is set to begin in summer and Leonard will still be in Gotham.
The drama has been a staple of the Fox lineup for seven seasons, but ratings have been declining as of late, possibly because of shifting timeslots.
Part of the reason "House" has moved between Monday and Tuesday throughout its history is due to programing changes made after the writers strike. "House" has also shifted to serve as a lead-in for one-season skein "Standoff" and vacated its spot for "Hell's Kitchen."
It first moved back an hour from 8 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday beginning in 2007. Then the series was moved to Monday in 2008, only to move back to Tuesday later that year - and then back to Monday in 2009.
"House" is averaging a 4.0 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and 10.7 million viewers overall this season. Two years ago, the series was earning a 5.3/14 and 13.3 million viewers.
According to sources, NBCUniversal is looking for the same deal it has had with Fox for the show since the sides renegotiated prior to season five: The network pays for cost of production, plus a premium because the success of the series.
Fox is looking for a reduction in that agreement because of the falling viewer totals and the high cost of production and cast salaries, which is often the most expensive part of a series that has been on the air for seven seasons.
When "House" first began in 2004, Universal wasn't affiliated with NBC, so the network didn't have the first choice to buy it from the studio.
Both NBCUniversal and Fox would like to have the situation resolved as soon as possible, especially with Fox entertainment topper Kevin Reilly needing to make decisions starting in the next week or two on pilot pickups. A schedule without "House" would clearly create difficulties that he, nor the Fox executive team, would have previously anticipated.
Reilly is currently out of the office but is engaged in the discussions.
If a deal can get done between Fox and NBCUniversal for another season, negotiations with the actors will ensue. That process could take weeks, if not months, for all parties to come to an agreement.
Also, showrunner and exec producer David Shore isn't contractually on board for an eighth season and his deal would have be ironed out as well, assuming he wanted to continue.
And THIS is why I'm so shocked they renewed Fringe when it's also extremely expensive and obviously gets waaaaaaay lower ratings. FOX NEVER DOES ANYTHING (ILLOGICALLY) RIGHT, I AM STILL IN BLISSED SHOCK!!