Fox on Monday announced an aggressive summer television schedule with six fresh series starting in June — including the return of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie in “The Simple Life 2.”
Four of the new shows will be scripted, unusual for a network TV landscape usually filled with reruns and reality fare in the summer.
Fox has had trouble getting new fall series noticed in recent years because much of its October schedule is filled with postseason baseball. The successful start of “The O.C.” last summer proved to Fox executives that summer could be a launching pad.
Three new series will air on Wednesdays, including “The Simple Life 2.” Hilton and Richie were filmed making a cross-country trip in a trailer, without their cell phones, cash or credit cards. Dogs Tinkerbell and Honey Child will be along for the ride.
“Quintuplets,” with Andy Richter as the father of 15-year-old quints, and “Method & Red,” an update of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” with rappers Method Man and Redman living in a gated community, are the other Wednesday entries.
Both dramas will be self-contained, industry parlance for a series that completes its story in one episode.
“North Shore” is about the young workers at a luxury hotel in Hawaii. “The Jury,” from Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana, recreates a crime through the deliberations of jurors.
Another Mark Burnett reality series, “Casino,” about life in a Las Vegas hotel, rounds out the new schedule.
Fox viewers will have a hard time missing the series: all except for “The Simple Life 2” will be repeated at some point during the week.
The network will heavily promote the new series, and try to show its support by airing original episodes of existing programs like “The Bernie Mac Show” in early June.
Gail Berman, Fox entertainment president, conceded the network is fighting 50 years of history. Viewers are used to seeing networks dump their low-priority programs in the summer, she said.
“They’re skeptics and they should be because they’ve been trained to be that,” she said. “There’s an uphill climb on that, we know that. But we’ve got to start the ball rolling.”
Most of the fresh fare on Fox’s rivals are reality programs. NBC and CBS are reprising five of their successful reality shows, including “The Amazing Race,” “Last Comic Standing” and “Who Wants to Be My Dad?”
NBC is also likely to try a handful of programs that have been successful on its sister Bravo network, like “Significant Others.”
ABC will have a short-run family drama, “The Days,” about a busy family seen through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy. The network will again burn off fresh episodes of “The Drew Carey Show.”