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The future doesn’t look promising for Fringe, the Fox sci-fi drama that defied odds in March by being renewed for a fourth season. While last year producers remained optimistic as they awaited the network’s decision, this time the mood isn’t quite as buoyant.
“Fringe has been a point of pride,” Fox President Kevin Reilly told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour. “I share the passion for the show that the fans have. I love the fact that Fox, after letting down some of the genre fans over the years, put one on [and stuck with it]. I love the fans – that they stuck with it and went to Friday night with us. It’s vastly improved our Friday night. We have a Friday night for the first time in a long, long time.”
“The hesitation in my voice is that it’s an expensive show. We lose a lot of money on the show,” Reilly continued. “At that rating, on that night, it’s almost impossible to make money on it. That’s been the case now over the last season. You know, we’re not in the business of losing money. So we really have to sit down and figure out, ‘Is there a number at which it makes sense?’ I do not want to drop the ball at the end and let the fans down. […] I’m not now quietly doing the soft-cancel here. I’m just telling you where it stands. We haven’t even sat down with the producers or the studio. I know they want to keep it going. So that’s another decision we’ll have to make.”
Fringe star Joshua Jackson heard Reilly’s comments loud and clear, and asked only that the writers have a chance to end the series appropriately.
“Look, I’d rather not get canceled but it we did get canceled, so long as they have enough time to properly finish the story that to me is the most important thing,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “Even though Kevin Reilly had very honest things to say about the show, I get it, it’s a money-making business and if we’re not making that money then we don’t deserve to be on the air.”
Asked for an alternate solution, the actor said he would be open to a shortened fifth season or a TV movie. “They’ve talked about doing graphic novels; whatever it is, I just want it to properly end,” he said.
Co-creator J.J. Abrams sounded a little more optimistic about Fringe‘s chances, if not at Fox then possibly at another network.
“For some sick reason, I’m hopeful, because the show … there’s some stuff coming up that’s so great,” he told the TCA press tour. “They’re doing such amazing work. Maybe it’s just that dumb optimism of hoping that when good work is done, it gets rewarded. I think that some of the work they’re doing, that Jeff [Pinkner] and Joel [Wyman] are working on now, is so good that I’m just crossing my fingers that it gets to continue. And if not, on Fox, maybe somewhere else.”