Fox execs insist 'future will be bright' for network's creatives amid merger

Two top Fox executives caught in the middle of the company's corporate divorce offered few clues about their future o...

Posted: Jan 5, 2018 12:08 AM
Updated: Jan 5, 2018 12:08 AM

Two top Fox executives caught in the middle of the company's corporate divorce offered few clues about their future on Thursday, insisting that it will be "business as usual" for the next 12 to 18 months, while Disney seeks approval to absorb most of its assets.

Fox TV Group co-chairmen Gary Newman and Dana Walden are in a particularly awkward spot, since they oversee both the 20th Century Fox production studio -- which is part of the Disney acquisition -- and the Fox TV network, which mogul Rupert Murdoch intends to keep.

Addressing reporters at the TV Critics Association tour in Pasadena, California, Newman suggested that the "new Fox" -- which would include Fox Sports and Fox News, as well as the broadcast network -- would be "robust and nimble," but also acknowledged there had been a degree of anxiety among the creative personnel currently making shows for the network. He insisted, however, "the future will be bright for our creative partners."

Ryan Murphy, whose hits "American Horror Story" and "Glee" have come out of the studio, admitted he was "very not prepared for what happened," but said he received calls from both the Murdochs and Disney CEO Bob Iger in light of the news, during which he expressed his concern that his edgy brand of content may not have a home at the new Fox.

Murphy said Iger -- who has reportedly reached out to other key personnel at the studio -- attempted to assuage his concerns.

"I'm sort of interested to see what that company is going to look like before I make any decision abut where I'm going to go," Murphy said, citing Disney's success in absorbing Pixar and Marvel.

Related: Trump's antitrust team will be working overtime on Disney/Fox deal

Newman and Walden's own professional futures are also in question, in terms of staying with the network or going with the studio to Disney.

Walden, who has been floated as a candidate for other top jobs outside Fox, punted as to what her future might hold.

"Clearly I'm going to have a decision to make," Walden said after the panel. "I love this company. I love the team. Gary and I have had a hand in putting virtually every person in place. I'm very committed to them. I wouldn't speculate right now about leaving or, frankly, anything other than the work that's at hand."

Newman said there's no "timeline for our decision" but that both he and Walden "anticipate staying the course through this period of time to get to the resolution of this merger."

From an economic standpoint, industry sources have wondered about what a Fox network without a studio might look like.

Walden and Newman suggested that the channel would be a hospitable home for other key program suppliers -- such as Sony and Lionsgate -- that lack their own broadcast networks.

In addition to being the principal supplier to the Fox network, 20th Century Fox produces shows for its rivals, including NBC's "This is Us" and ABC's "Modern Family."

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