For the second straight day, FOX has given an official series order to a high profile drama pilot, actually doubling down with drama orders on Tuesday (May 6)
One day after sending “Gotham” to series, FOX has done the same for “Red Band Society” and “Empire,” or “Lee Daniels' Empire,” to avoid confusion with the 2002 John Leguizamo classic “Empire.”
Produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine Entertainment, “Empire” is described as a “unique family drama set in the world of a hip-hop empire that will feature both original and current music.” Timbaland was already announced as curator of the current music and supervisor for the new music.
Terrence Howard stars as Lucious Lyon, which is sure to be your favorite character name of the 2014-2015 season. Lyon is a music superstar planning to take his company, Empire Entertainment, public. In a “Hustle and Flow” reunion, Taraji P. Henson will play his ex-wife, who gets out of prison after 17 years and wants her piece of the Empire empire.
The “Empire” pilot was written by “Buffy the Vampire” slayer star Emmy winner Danny Strong and directed by the aforementioned Lee Daniels. Daniels and Strong previously worked together on “Lee Daniels' The Butler.”
“Red Band Society” was created by Margaret Nagle and is executive produced by Steven Spielberg and the team from Amblin Television, plus ABC Studios.
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon directed the pilot, which focuses on a diverse group of patients in a hospital pediatric ward, as well as the medical professionals who are part of their world. FOX boasts that it “represents a completely inspired way into young soap, a comedic one-hour, a hospital show, and a (surrogate) family drama.”
“Red Band Society” features an ensemble cast topped by Oscar winner Octavia Spencer.
If you're keeping score at home, that's two dramas with three Oscar nominated or Oscar winner African-American leads. That's still notable. [Plus, Gabourey Sidibe, another African-American Oscar nominee, will be a recurring guest star on “Lee Daniels' Empire.”]
FOX has been quite aggressive about early orders well ahead of next Monday's network upfront presentation. The network already gave earlier series orders to “Heiroglyph” and “Backstrom,” as well as yesterday's “Gotham” order.
The network's glut of new productions made it possible for the network to confirm last week that it was canceling the robot procedural “Almost Human” after a lone moderately rated season.
FOX's dwindling bubble includes “Enlisted,” “Surviving Jack” and “Dads” as well as, to a much less bubbly degree, “Rake.”
Are you excited by either FOX pickup?