Fox Relies On Reality For Fall Schedule, But Unscripted Chief Allison Wallach Says “Creative Bar” Doesn’t Drop As Slots Increase

The Masked Singer, the return of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Lego Masters and David Spade-hosted game show Snake Oil are among the slew of unscripted titles leading Fox’s fall schedule as the writers and actors strikes take a bite out of the scripted broadcast season.

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There’s plenty more where that came from, according to recently installed President of Unscripted Programming Allison Wallach. But, don’t expect a reality boom for the sake of it, she adds.

Wallach is overseeing her first fall schedule in her new role; the former boss of Fox Alternative Entertainment took over in December, replacing Rob Wade, who was named CEO of the company.

She has got off to a good start. The Masked Singer returned for Season 10 with an opener that featured old faces before bringing in the new crop of secret celebrities.

RELATED: ‘The Masked Singer’ EP Craig Plestis Teases Surprises In Store For Season 10: “The Best Of Everything”

The show, which launched on September 10, delivered its highest rated season premiere since Season 7 and improved on last season’s premiere by 50% in the 18-49 demo.

Wallach told Deadline that the launch “set the bar and tone for the rest of the season”. “We have a lot of enthusiasm here,” she added.

Similar to its scripted strategy, Fox has been prioritizing shows from its own Fox Alternative Entertainment studio. It has Snake Oil premiering on September 27 and Kitchen Nightmares returns after nearly 10 years from Fox-backed Studio Ramsay.

“The last time that Gordon did the show, he owned about 10 restaurants, now he owns over 100, so we’re really excited to be relaunching that,” she said.

Elsewhere, Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test returns for its second season, Name That Tune returns for season three, Hell’s Kitchen is back for its 22nd season and Lego Masters is building out its third season.

I Can See Your Voice was originally set for fall but has been moved to midseason to allow Fox to remind viewers that 9-1-1: Lone Star still exists with repeats. It will be joined by shows such as Farmer Wants A Wife and We Are Family, from exec producer Jamie Foxx.

Then, there’s new titles such as John De Mol-created The Floor. The plan is to have a stocked midseason, Wallach said. “That pipeline was going anyway, so it wasn’t like we’ve been scrambling for things to put in there,” she added.

There’s still question marks on a handful of shows and Wallach admitted that some of Don’t Forget The Lyrics, Beat Shazam, Stars on Mars and Crime Scene Kitchen will return but wouldn’t say which.

SAG-AFTRA’s National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting, better known as Network Code, means that variety shows, reality series and game shows are able to continue production during the actors strike.

While there have been a handful of actors that are unwilling to work during this time – see Mayim Bialik on Jeopardy! – it has been a boon for many unscripted producers.

However, others expected there to be a boom in non-scripted greenlights as a result. This has not materialized.

“The truth is that the stuff that we are putting on the air, the stuff that we’ve ordered and have been in production on and been in development on are the things that we were doing regardless of the strike. Candidly, I don’t think the creative bar drops simply because you have more slots on the air,” she said. “We’re still always going to keep our eyes open for great ideas to come in and be able to develop new big shows. People were expecting a boom, they were expecting people to be buying a ton, but when there’s a ton of great stuff out there, people are going to be buying.”

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