Violence in movies, video games and television has received attention since the Newtown shootings, along with the availability of guns and mental health services. Reilly said people "can't be reactionary and you can't draw a direct linkage."

The series is intense, but it needs to be to compete in the world of thrillers, Reilly said.

Reilly said he believes there have been shows that are more violent than "The Following" on broadcast television, but they haven't been noticed, partly because they were bad. Fox is trying to provide escapist entertainment, which include moments that can make you laugh or be your worst nightmare, he said.

"Of course, these things are on my mind," Reilly said. "But the question is a complex one and a broad one."

The question is also a touchy one for Reilly, who snapped at a reporter who asked about Newtown and said he'd take no more questions on the topic.

Fox has gone through a rough season, failing to mint any new hits or attract an audience to its buzzed-about Tuesday night comedies. It is looking forward to a better second half of the year with "The Following" and the return of "American Idol."

Reilly said Fox needs to make some more noise.

"It's a goal of mine to get the Fox back into Fox," he said. "Before there was cable, Fox was cable."

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