- Associated Press - Monday, May 16, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Fox is canceling “America’s Most Wanted,” the Saturday night show that has profiled criminals on the lam since 1988, and replacing it with reruns.

It was part of Fox’s plans for its next television season announced on Monday. Fox will introduce eight new series in the coming months, including Simon Cowell’s talent show “The X Factor” and the long-awaited debut of Steven Spielberg’s drama about a futuristic family thrust into prehistoric times.

“America’s Most Wanted” has been on Fox’s schedule since April 1988 and a Saturday night mainstay since 1994. Its website posts a running tally of fugitives featured on the program that have been captured _ and it stood at 1,151 on Monday. It is hosted by John Walsh, who became an activist in hunting for missing children after his own son was abducted and killed in 1981.

Fox said “America’s Most Wanted” will have four, two-hour specials next season. But in its regular Saturday night time slot, Fox will air reruns of dramas that appeared earlier in the week, a cost-saving move that other broadcasters also do that night.

“We have not made money on the show for a while,” said Kevin Reilly, Fox’s entertainment president. “It was economically getting to the place where it was not viable anymore, but we wanted to keep the concept alive.”

Still, Reilly said there was “a lot of talking going on, and I would not be at all surprised to see the show pop up somewhere else.”

“America’s Most Wanted” had a longer history as a regular series on Fox than even “The Simpsons,” the cartoon first seen as part of “The Tracey Ullman Show” in 1987 before becoming a series two years later.

Walsh said that Reilly told him of the cancellation on Sunday. “I was quite surprised,” Walsh said. “Maybe we don’t make money, but we hold the night, and we were the first hit for Fox.”

He said he would be talking with Fox’s production company for other possible outlets, including syndication.

Fox is so excited about Cowell’s return following his exit as an “American Idol” judge last year that it is devoting 90 minutes of its prime-time schedule this fall to “The X Factor” even though the concept is new to an American audience. It will follow the same Wednesday and Thursday schedule as “Idol.”

“There’s an excitement and a buzz around the show that we’ve never seen before,” said Peter Rice, Fox network chairman. Success could be a game-changer for Fox, which traditionally suffers in the ratings in the fall because “American Idol” does not begin until January.

The Spielberg drama “Terra Nova” comes to Fox’s schedule almost a year later than was expected. The series was filmed in Australia and is filled with special effects.

It premieres in the fall, along with two comedies. Actress Zooey Deschanel is the star of “New Girl,” playing a woman in her late 20s who moves in with three single guys after a bad breakup. Another new Fox comedy, “I Hate My Teenage Daughter,” features Jaime Pressly and Katie Finneran playing as moms with teenage daughters who are exactly like the kids that once tormented the mothers when they were in high school.

Former “24” star Keifer Sutherland has been signed to appear in the new drama “Touch,” as the father of a special needs child who also has special mental abilities. The show’s pilot hasn’t been filmed and it doesn’t yet have a slot in Fox’s schedule.

Looking even further ahead, Fox announced that “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane has agreed to do a remake of “The Flintstones.” It won’t be on the air until 2013.

Aside from “America’s Most Wanted,” other Fox shows that are ending are “Running Wilde,” “Lie to Me,” “Human Target,” “Traffic Light,” “The Chicago Code,” “Breaking In” and “Million Dollar Money Drop.”

Other new Fox series ordered include:

_”Allen Gregory,” a cartoon that joins Fox’s animated block on Sunday nights in the fall. Only 7, the animated Gregory has already composed operas, written novels and supposedly dated Chloe Sevigny.

_”The Finder,” a midseason drama about an Iraq war veteran who has a talent for finding missing people or items.

_”Alcatraz,” a thriller by J.J. Abrams about ghosts who were inmates at the notorious prison.

_”Napoleon Dynamite,” a midseason cartoon based on the film of the same name.


Associated Press Television Writer Frazier Moore contributed to this report.

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