Fox had plenty to talk about Thursday at the TV critics’ press tour in Beverly Hills.
Fox Television Group co-chairs and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman, who’ve held that title for a year now, beamed like proud parents when boasting about their baby “Empire,” the breakout hit of last season. They also addressed the upcoming departure of “American Idol” — assuring that the end-of-the-run hoopla won’t overshadow the quest to crown a 15th and final Idol — and copped to some stumbles in the reality TV arena, like Ryan Seacrest’s “Knock Knock Live,” which died after only two episodes.
Here’s what went down during Fox day at TCA:
1. The network is doubling down on Lee Daniels, co-creator of the network’s megahit “Empire.” Fox has ordered up a new show, “Star,” from the director of “The Butler” and “Precious.” It’s only a pilot order so far, but Fox’s Newman was bullish on the concept and indicated it was likely to go straight to series. Like “Empire,” the story will unfold in the modern-day, cut-throat world of the music biz. Based in Atlanta, it’s the story of three young women hoping to make it big. Casting will start soon. Crossovers between “Empire” and “Star” are a possibility but not a certainty, the execs said. (As Cookie would say, “You can bet my beautiful a** there are gonna be crossovers boo boo kitty.”)
2. As you might expect, Fox showered lots o’ love on its freshman hit, “Empire,” which averaged 17 million viewers a week last season and netted star Taraji P. Henson an Emmy nod for her turn as the infinitely quotable Cookie Lyon. Coming up next season, Pitbull will guest star as himself on an episode this fall, performing “No Doubt About It” with Jamal (Jussie Smollett). Also slated to appear: Chris Rock, Kelly Rowland, Marisa Tomei, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Adam Rodriguez. The show, set in New York but filmed in Chicago, will return Sept. 23 on Fox. During the “Empire” panel — the last panel of the day — creator Lee Daniels promised there would be a spinoff at some point, “without question.”
3. The buzzed about “Prison Break” project is a go and the series could be back next summer for a 10-episode run. The limited series is billed as “a bit of a sequel,” according to Walden, who added that the action picks up several years after the show ended its four-season run in 2009. The brothers played by Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell will both be back. As for that straight-to-video finale that makes that scenario seem, ahem, unlikely, Walden assured that will be addressed in a believable and logical fashion. (The first season was shot at the now-shuttered Joliet Correctional Center, also featured in “The Blues Brothers.”)
4. Happy Halloween: Fox’s long-running “Bones” will meet the supernatural world of “Sleepy Hollow” in a crossover event airing Thursday, Oct. 29. On “Bones,” the discovery of human remains lead Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) on a hunt for clues that happens to intersect with “Sleepy Hollow’s” Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie). The quartet teams up to solve the mystery. The “Sleepy Hollow” episode that follows features Ichabod’s old nemesis who’s back from the dead. Abbie and Ichabod turn to Brennan and Booth “to unlock 18th century secrets using 21st century science.”
“The ‘Bones/Sleepy Hollow’ crossover is like a great episode of ‘The X-Files,’ where the ‘Bones’ hour is the Scully, logic-based perspective and the ‘Sleepy Hollow’ hour is more Fox Mulder-esque,” said ‘Bones’ executive producer Michael Peterson in a written statement.
Speaking of “The X-Files” ….
5. Television critics got a sneak peek of the upcoming six-episode “X-Files” miniseries and it was, well, kind of weird. Read more on that here.
6. Plans for a modern-day “Urban Cowboy” are galloping ahead with actors being auditioned this week for the TV adaptation of the 1980 film starring John Travolta and Debra Winger. The pilot will be shot next month and the “limited series” could launch as soon as midseason. The door is being left open to give it a recurring spot on Fox’s schedule but as for now, it’s being touted as a one-and-done.
Other odds and ends from Fox day at TCA: