'Empire' co-creator Daniels to create series pilot for Fox

AP News
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Posted: Aug 06, 2015 2:00 PM
'Empire' co-creator Daniels to create series pilot for Fox

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Lee Daniels, co-creator of Fox's mega-hit "Empire," is developing a new pilot for the network about three young women trying to make it in the music business.

News of this prospective music drama, "Star," was delivered by Fox bosses Dana Walden and Gary Newman at a gathering of TV critics Thursday.

"Star" would follow on the huge success of "Empire," which arrived in January and not only became the biggest hit of the TV season — averaging 17 million viewers weekly — but also provided a shot in the arm for broadcast overall, the executives declared.

Daniels' new project is set against the music business in Atlanta and tells the story of three women who form a band.

Also under way is a reboot of "Prison Break." Originally airing on Fox from 2005 to 2009, this serial drama will bring back its stars, Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell, who play beleaguered brothers, for a 10-episode arc.

The original series has been a fixture on Netflix, where it demonstrated sustained popularity as "a whole new generation has caught up" with it, said Walden.

The network had already announced another revival: a series based on the 1980 film "Urban Cowboy," which may premiere as soon as mid-season.

In a crowded media universe, "you really need promotable stunts and characters to drive awareness," said Newman.

Also announced:

— A crossover event, timed to Halloween, for "Bones" and "Sleepy Hollow," which will include, respectively, a headless corpse and zombie Redcoats.

— Besides previously announced news that Michael Chiklis will join the cast of "Gotham," Jason Sudeikis will join his former "Saturday Night Live" cast mate Will Forte for season two of the latter's comedy "The Last Man on Earth." And rapper Pitbull will guest star and perform on the second season of "Empire."

— A season-long victory lap for "American Idol" as it heads toward its conclusion.

But the music-competition show will also stick to business for its gala farewell cycle. "The producers feel very committed to finding the 15th American Idol and not let the search ... be lost in the celebratory element of the show," said Walden.

In a world where streaming video networks are grabbing eyeballs and much glory, Newman was asked what traditional broadcast TV networks can still offer. He pointed to "Empire."

"You can really create a cultural event and a social event," he said. Thanks to social media buzz and word-of-mouth with each episode aired, "viewer interest fed on itself. The audience continued to grow, because our viewers were doing the marketing for us."

Sure to stir things up as a TV event: the midseason return of the long-ago bombshell "The X-Files." A brief clip from this much-anticipated revival was screened for critics, which found Mulder (David Duchovny) still looking for the truth Out There:

"This is not an alien conspiracy!" Mulder tells his long-ago partner Scully (Gillian Anderson). "This is a conspiracy of men!"

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EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore