Fox Broadcasting Co. has created a new division to create animated programming for online and a Saturday late night block of shows. Kevin Reilly, Fox president of Entertainment, said the unit is led by Nick Weidenfeld, formerly head of program development for Adult Swim, and producer Hend Baghdady.

20th Century Fox Television already is well-known as the home of landmark animated franchises like The Simpsons and Family Guy. Additionally, on Jan. 15 it will debut Napoleon Dynamite, a new animated series based on the 2004 pop culture phenomenon that is produced by Mike Scully (The Simpsons, Everybody Loves Raymond) and voiced by the movie’s original cast.

The digital channel will reach across online, mobile apps, game consoles and video on demand. It is set to feature 50 original short-form pieces per year along with elements from Fox animated shows. It also is nurturing what the network describes as user-adapted content, which Fox said it will be curating.

“This may be the first time a network is building a clear bridge for talent to develop and grow ideas in the digital/alternative arena and organically move them into the mainstream,” said Reilly. “These new late-night series will be assets in their own right – but the clear possibility exists for a breakout digital success to graduate to primetime.”

Weidenfeld joins Fox under his Friends Night production company banner. He previously spent eight years building Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim into must-see viewing for the sort of people who would enjoy twisted and surreal animation in the middle of the night, with shows including the Peabody Award-winning The Boondocks, Childrens Hospital, NTSF:SD:SUV::, Metalocalypse, Superjail! and China, IL.

Baghdady has developed, produced and created production formats, most recently including include the stop-motion Christmas special Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas; The Andy Milonakis Show; Warren the Ape; and Kanye West’s pilot Alligator Boots.

Related links:

New York Times’ MediaDecoder – Fox Plans Block of Cartoon Shows for Late Night on Saturdays

Bloomberg – Fox to Add Late-Night Animated Shows as ‘Simpsons’ Turns 23

Los Angeles Times – Fox to take on NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ with cartoons