PRESS TOUR: Fox's Batman-less Batman prequel, 'Gotham'

Sunday, 20 July 2014 02:54 PM Written by 

Click here to read Friday's TV Q&A and other posts from the summer TV critics press tour.

Gotham pilot RiverFrontPier 2109

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- What to do when you have a Batman TV series without Batman? Focus Fox's "Gotham" (8 p.m. Sept. 22) instead on moral center Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie, "Southland") and the villains.

Early versions of characters who will become Oswald "the Penguin" Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor, pictured above at left), Edward "the Riddler" Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) and Selena "Catwoman" Kyle (Camren Bicondova) appear in the pilot along with a newly-created villain, Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith).

Read more after the jump. ...

"You have to frontload the pilot with the best that you've got 'cause that's the way you have to open big," said executive producer Bruno Heller ("The Mentalist," "Rome"). "As you roll on there will be a slower rollout."

Much of the first season will be devoted to a rivalry between the Penguin and Fish.

"I think women make very interesting villains because what drives a woman in all our stories is very different than what we're used to seeing in shows created for men and what drives a man to do what he does," Smith said. "It's always interesting to penetrate the internal life, what makes a woman tick and do what she does."

Fox needs "Gotham" and its other new shows to work. With "The X Factor" canceled and "American Idol" continuing its ratings decline, the network fell to fourth place in total viewers and second in the age 18-49 demo for the 2013-14 TV season.

Fox Networks Group chairman Peter Rice said the recent departure of programming chief Kevin Reilly and the merging of studio and network oversight under Dana Walden and Gary Newman will put Fox more in line with the structure of ABC, CBS and NBC.

"We've sort of been the odd-man-out in terms of the way the other networks were aligned," Rice said, adding this there will be benefits to having the network and studio under the same executives. "We think this will be a good thing for our business."

As for Reilly's decree that pilot season was dead, Rice said that was somewhat misinterpreted as Fox won't do pilots. Rice emphasized a desire for more elastic development that allos for pilot production in the traditional February-March time period but also at other times of year. And he said some shows will go direct to series as well.

Rice was upbeat on the prospect of more "24."

"We haven't had specific conversaions abou tit coming back yet but I'm sure we will in the future," he said. "When you look at the show itself, I think it has many more stories to tell. But we have to sit down and talk to the creators about it."

Read more about "Gotham" in Monday's Post-Gazette.

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