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Fox renews ‘Touch,’ cancels ‘The Finder,’ ‘Alcatraz’

Yvonne Villarreal
Los Angeles Times (MCT)
Touch

LOS ANGELES — Fox has picked up three comedies and two dramas for the 2012-13 season, stealing a familiar face from NBC and nabbing Kevin Bacon in the process. In addition, the network renewed its Kiefer Sutherland-led drama “Touch” and canned “Alcatraz” and “Bones” spinoff “The Finder.”

The network may be losing a grumpy doc with “House” ending its run this season, but its staying in the medical practice with “Mob Doctor.” “My Boys” alum Jordana Spiro stars as a young female thoracic surgeon who becomes indebted to the South Chicago Mafia and is forced to moonlight as a “mob doctor” while also working full time at Chicago’s most prominent hospital.

Fox has also inched its way forward in the “Six Degrees” game, giving a series order to the “The Following.” The series, which comes from “The Vampire Diaries’” Kevin Williamson, features Kevin Bacon as a former FBI agent searching for a serial killer, played by James Purefoy, who has created a cult of killers.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone by the heap of comedies picked up by NBC, Fox is adding some more funny to its programming with three laffers.

“Ben & Kate” is based on the life of writer/executive producer Dana Fox’s (“Couples Retreat,” “The Wedding Date”) brother, Ben, and centers on a single mother whose brother moves in to help raise her baby.

“Goodwin Games,” from “How I Met Your Mother” scribes Carter Bays, Craig Thomas and Chris Harris, centers on siblings who inherit their late father’s fortune. The cast includes Beck Newton (“Ugly Betty”) and Scott Foley (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Felicity”).

And “The Office’s” Mindy Kaling makes the move to the top-rated network in “It’s Messy,” in which she plays a young doctor trying to balance her personal and professional life. The project, which she is to write, executive produce and star in, will mark her departure from the NBC comedy.

Then there are the faces of this season to contend with.

Sutherland’s return to TV post-”24” in “Touch,” about a widower who struggles to connect with his mute son who has unique abilities, seemed enough to propel the drama into a hit for the network. The series previewed in January after “American Idol” and drew 12 million viewers. It seemed to retain much of the viewership when it returned two months later in its regular Thursday time slot, but has seen those numbers dip.

Meanwhile, the J.J. Abrams-backed “Alcatraz,” a mystery drama about the infamous San Francisco prison and its inmates, struggled to sustain its solid launch numbers — 10 million viewers, with a 3.3 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic. Its finale drew just 4.7 million viewers and a 1.5. But the network still has ties with Abrams — at least for one more season, having renewed cult favorite “Fringe” for a fifth and final season.

And “The Finder” couldn’t find its footing with viewers, despite its connection to “Bones.” Up against pedigreed series such as “Grey’s Anatomy” in its Thursday slot, it soon found a new home on Fridays at 8 p.m. ET — which did little to help its cause.

When the Los Angeles Times spoke to creator Hart Hanson last week, he was hopeful but realistic about the series’ chances of making it to a second season.

“The funny thing is, my life would be easier if “The Finder” wasn’t renewed,” Hanson said. “If ‘The Finder’ doesn’t go, I could actually go on a little vacation with my wife for maybe a week or 10 days. And if it does go, I can’t — and yet, sadly, I still want it to get picked up.”

He added: “It was not a priority of the network — I say that without bitterness, by the way. They have to make their decisions. It’s like triage. They have to decide what’s gonna work best for them early on and put those promotional dollars behind that.”

More renewals and pickups are expected in coming days as the network prepares to make its presentation to advertisers next week.

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