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He Has Fox In The Hunt

The chairman loves his hits but prowls for the next one. It could be 'K-Ville.'


Peter LIGUORI made a name for himself as president at FX Networks, where the Yale graduate helped put the basic cable channel on the TV grid by developing such critically acclaimed shows as "The Shield," "Nip/Tuck" and "Rescue Me." Since taking over at Fox in April 2005, Liguori, who was bumped up from entertainment president to chairman in July, has been searching for his next big hit.

After a disappointing development season last year, he's getting good buzz around two new Fox shows for the fall -- "K-Ville," a cop drama set in post-Katrina New Orleans, and "Back to You," a TV newsroom sitcom starring Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton.

Fox claimed 28 Emmy nominations last month, seven for its juggernaut "American Idol," six for its real-time action thriller series "24" and four more for its top-rated medical drama "House." We spoke to him just before those nominations were announced.

What were Fox's expectations for the Emmys this year?

In all honesty, we as a network don't wake every morning to go out and seek Emmys. We as a network get up to create great programming with great talent both in front of and behind the cameras.

What does it mean for the network when you win, especially in big categories like "24" last year, which won five Emmys, including lead actor in a drama series for Kiefer Sutherland.

Is it rewarding to see people who work 24/7 and expose their chest creatively each and every week get recognized from their peers? Of course. The reaction was one of 'It's about time Howard Gordon and Joel Surnow and Bob Cochran got what they deserved.' Fox took a risk on a big, bold concept and it has withstood the ratings test of time. It's certainly nice to get that reward.

How does this year look?

Kiefer was rewarded last year and I hope he gets rewarded again this year. There's another guy who does a Herculean job carrying a show on his back and that is Hugh Laurie. I've always been one to get particularly excited when actors step out of their creative cocoons and tackle something beyond the familiar. Hugh came out of comedy and for him to take on this really controversial character, well, it'd be great to see him recognized. [Laurie has won two consecutive Golden Globes and picked up an Emmy nomination last month, for his portrayal of a foul-tempered medical doctor in "House."]

Fox's commitment to broadcast baseball's postseason has been reduced -- TBS and TNT are broadcasting the divisional playoffs this year -- what does this mean for rolling out your fall schedule?

Look, if there's a World Series and it's televised, I want it on Fox

I think baseball is terrific, it's entertaining, and it's a great promotional platform, but this year we're afforded a little more flexibility on when we can premiere our new shows.

Last development season was tough for Fox. How does this one look?

The one thing that solves that is great work. That's what we wake up for in the morning. Nothing works better than a creator to walk in our offices with that new, electric idea.

There's been good buzz on your cop drama "K-Ville," which debuts in the fall. Talk about the decision to set it in post-Katrina New Orleans.

You know, I've always loved westerns but I realize in today's environment that you probably can't get a western on. But then it struck me that New Orleans is a little like the Wild West. We looked at the possibility of doing a cop show in New Orleans and people sparked to the idea. Ultimately, this is a cop show that happens to take place in New Orleans; it's not a polemic. But the reality is the show has themes that will challenge an audience. A lot of this season's new shows are awash in fantasy, bright and vivid colors; this is visceral.

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