Kevin Reilly had scored with ER,The Office, 30 Rock, The Sopranos and many other global hits before settling at Fox in 2007 where his Midas touch continued as president of entertainment, not least with the comedy/musical phenomenon Glee. So how does he do it?
“I think we have to dream big in this business,” he said. “The odds are really against you, you know? If you really thought about how many things ultimately don’t work, you would never get out of bed in the morning.”
And there’s no secret formula. “You don’t start strapping elements on [to a show]that you think would be appealing or broaden the reach that usually ends up just deluding it. If you begin with something that feels incredibly relatable on a human level, everything follows from there.” Reilly said that most of what truly impacts culture begins “on the fringe, like Rock & Roll. And that’s the history of entertainment in a certain respect. And historically it would take some time for something to move from the fringe, which would be an unusual idea a weird concept, a weird person, a weird performer to all of a sudden becoming mainstream. Well in this day and age of social networking that can happen in an hour. Personally I am much more excited about pushing towards the edge of something that could be a bit of a paradigm shift, or catch the edge of a cultural change in terms of a tone or a character or a concept.” Reilly gives Media Mastermind Keynote presentation, on Tuesday, October 4. So, as a MIPCOM first-timer, what secrets of success will he offer the MIPCOM audience? “I’m always a bit loathe to cite a rule book because rules are meant to be broken,” he said. “You need to know how to break the fundamentals that’s how jazz works. You can play a scale, but then you start playing a scale in quite the opposite way they taught you to play it, and then it becomes an entirely new form of music. So part of what I hope I would do in this chair is to be mindful of the rules but not fearful of breaking them, and in fact to encourage a creator to go to the edges and follow what may be the scariest instincts.”
Kevin Reilly, president of entertainment at Fox