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Posted at 9:47 PM ET, 11/19/2010

Fox finally moves 'American Idol' to Thursdays

By Lisa de Moraes

Fox made a major defensive move Friday, announcing it was bumping "American Idol" out of Tuesday nights and into Thursday nights when it returned for its new season in January.

When the country's most popular series debuts, it will not air in its traditional Tuesday Wednesday configuration and will instead air Wednesday and Thursday nights.


Weird how the network snuck out the announcement, late in the day on a Friday heading into a holiday week. That kind of take-out-the-trash maneuver is usually reserved for the whacking of network suits.

And how ironic that, after years of fevered speculation as to whether Fox would move "Idol" to Thursday and really mess with the other networks, the network finally does makes the move and causes so little stir.

But Fox needed to make the move.

With Simon Cowell - arguably the show's biggest draw - gone this season, we can assume ratings on the show will continue to slide -- no matter how many Stephen Tylers and Jennifer Lopez's they cast, and no matter how many bells and whistles they add. (Returning exec producer Nigel Lythgoe recently promised they'd spare us the the whole Top-24 nonsense this season and cut straight to the Top 12 Idolettes, and will no longer subject all Idolettes to a country tune, or an Elvis number, for which we are grateful.)

Anyway, moving "Idol" to Thursday gets Fox off the hook. When the numbers come in lower this coming season, Fox suits can claim they knew the ratings would drop because the show had been moved to the most competitive night of the week. Heck, only half the press will even write that the show is down another 15 percent; the other half will be writing that it's the No. 1 show on Thursday - the toughest night of TV all week. It's worked for CBS with "Big Bang Theory" so far this season, right?

And, because advertisers pay a premium to run ads on Thursdays, Fox will presumably get to hang on to some of the money it might have otherwise lost if the show continues its ratings slide. Back when "Idol" was master of the universe, that kind of scheduling move did not matter because airing "Idol" was pretty much like printing money. Now that it's slipping, theses considerations loom larger.

In other new Fox schedule move:

"Idol" debuts Jan. 19 and 20. To make way for "Idol," "Bones" will move to 9 p.m. Thursday on Jan. 20.

Fox's high school musical "Glee" sticks at 8 p.m. Tuesdays followed by "Raising Hope," and a new comedy called "Mixed Signals" from Bob Fisher ("Wedding Crashers") "about how friendships and romances enhance and complicate the lives of the men and women in them," Fox says. All clear?

"The Chicago Code," the long awaited cop drama starring Jennifer Beals, will finally debut night after the Super Bowl -- that's Monday, Feb 7 at 9, after an episode of "House." "The Chicago Code" follows Chicago's "most powerful and respected cops" Fox said. And, because it's from Shawn Ryan ("The Shield"), these cops naturally specialize in navigating the city's underbelly like nobody's business -- exposing corruption and other forms of young-guy-attracting skeeviness.

Additionally, Fox will trot out an actual non-Seth MacFarlane-produced new animated series called "Bob's Burgers" on Sunday nights, starting Jan. 9. It appears to be getting the 8:30 time slot, following "The Simpsons." It's about a guy, his family and their pretty lousy burger joint.

(Photo of Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest and Jimmy Iovine Michael Becker/Fox)

By Lisa de Moraes  | November 19, 2010; 9:47 PM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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That's Steven Tyler in the picture, not Steven Perry.

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