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Fox Picks Up Potential ‘Terra Nova’ Partner ‘Alcatraz’

J.J. Abrams gives network another chance to keep genre alive


Fox already has “Terra Nova” premiering in the fall and cult favorite “Fringe” coming back for a fourth season. And now the network is completing its genre trifecta by picking up “Alcatraz” for its upcoming 2011-12 season.

Created by the team of “Star Trek” director J.J. Abrams, Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt, “Alcatraz” is a science-fiction version of “Prison Break” where prisoners from the famed prison escape from the past into the present. It stars actress Sarah Jones (“Huff”), Sam Neill (“Jurassic Park,” “Daybreakers”) and Jorge Garcia (“Lost”).

Abrams earned a pickup for another series he helped create, “Fringe,” this past spring despite a major ratings drop and a move to Fridays. However, “Fringe” has been Fox’s best-performing Friday show in years, and creates enough buzz to keep interest alive.

But will Fox take what might be considered an obvious route and pair “Alcatraz” and “Fringe” together? Likely not, as sources say it could be paired with “Terra Nova” instead. That would be a risky move for Fox, loading up a night with all freshman shows, but there has been considerable buzz around “Terra Nova,” and “Alcatraz” could attract a little bit of the “Prison Break” and “24” audience Fox is looking to regain.

“Alcatraz” was one of three pilots Fox said it would take into series, along with “Bones” spinoff “The Finder” as well as the Zooey Deschanel vehicle “The New Girl.”

But that means some shows will have to go, since Fox only has so much room on its schedule. That means “Human Target” will not see a third season. Fox officially pulled the plug on the show after losing more than 31 percent of its audience from last season. Also getting cancelled is “Chicago Code,” which was the lead-out for “House” this season that never caught on well with audiences.

Genre programs have struggled big-time on the networks this past season. And while many of them are not expected to return (expect to say good-bye to “The Event,” “No Ordinary Family,” “The Cape” and “V”), the networks are staying true to science-fiction with some high-profile offerings like “Terra Nova” and now “Alcatraz.”

Fox is expected to announce its schedule later this spring.

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