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Fox Goes Retro -- and Backwards -- for 2015-16
August 6, 2015  | By Ed Bark
 


Beverly Hills, CA -- Fox took a big step forward last season with the mid-season smash Empire.  
 
Now the network is taking several steps backward while also going to the same well. In their opening session with TV critics, Dana Walden and Gary Newman (both of whom hold the positions of Fox Television Group's chairman and CEO), announced that Empire creator Lee Daniels will be doing a second music-based drama. 
 
Titled Star and set in Atlanta, it tracks the rising careers of three young women singers striving to make it big with their new band. Fox says the series also will "showcase the allure and heartache of the cutthroat music scene." But of course.  
 
Fox otherwise is going retro with the mid-season return of The X-Files (TV critics got a short clip but no panel) plus a new fall series, Minority Report, (with Stark Sands, right) adapted from the 2002 Steven Spielberg film. And on Thursday, the network touted two more blasts from the past.  
 
Prison Break, which ended an earlier four-season run on Fox in 2009, will be returning sometime next year with Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell reprising their starring roles as brothers Michael Scofield and Lincoln Burrows. Walden doesn't see it as an insurmountable problem that Michael died at the end of the final season. And that the rebooted Prison Break won't be a prequel.  
 
"I don't think they're going to ignore it all together," she said after the formal interview session. "You'll get a satisfying answer as to why some of these characters are still alive."  
 
The new Prison Break will be helmed by its original creator, Paul T. Scheuring, who had gradually disengaged himself from the original.  
 
"This is his pure vision," Walden said. "And it's going to take a detour a little bit from where they left off."  
 
A retooled Urban Cowboy also is coming to Fox as a series, executives announced. It will be filmed in Austin, TX rather than Houston, where the original 1980 John Travolta film was shot. There are no details on casting yet.   
 
ABC's big summertime rating success with Celebrity Family Feud could prompt some Fox action on the retro game show front, too.  
 
Walden said the network since has been pitched several "recognizable franchises that would be reinvented." And yes, Fox is all ears.   
 
***Jamie Lee Curtis may not be a top of the marquee TV or movie star anymore. On a one to 10 quotability scale, though, she remains off the charts. 
 
During and after Fox's Thursday panel for its new Scream Queens "killer comedy-horror" series (co-starring Emma Roberts, top), Curtis effortlessly served one ace after another. For one, she loathes scary movies and won't tolerate being frightened or surprised even though she first made her mark on the big screen in John Carpenter's 1978 Halloween. She's since participated in four sequels as "virginal, repressed babysitter" Laurie Strode and also has appeared in Terror Train, The Fog, Virus and the like.  
 
"I scare very easily and there is nothing about being scared that I like," said Curtis, who has watched none of the above movies. "That is not something I will pay money for. It is not something that people around me are allowed to do. My children learned very early on. Don't scare mommy. Don't give me a surprise party."   
 
Even her 1984 wedding vows, to husband Christopher Guest, included a promise not to spring any surprise parties on each other, Curtis noted.     
 
Scream Queens, from American Horror Story maestro Ryan Murphy, finds Curtis playing college dean Cathy Munsch, a sorority-hater who vows to bring down resident mean girl Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) and her minions. It's scheduled to premiere on Tuesday, Sept. 22.  
 
Told that she doesn't seem to mind scaring those who watch some of her movies, Curtis said that horror flicks are what got her started in the business and enabled her to eventually make more rarefied films such as A Fish Called Wanda and Trading Places.  
 
"I'm a 56-year-old woman with no discernible skills," she insisted. "I'm telling you the truth. I barely got out of high school. I fell into acting and I've done everything anyone ever asked of me. But I have absolutely no skill level. You do not want me in a period piece. I'm not going to give you great accents. I cannot sing. I can dance a little. But somehow I've been privileged to have this career."  
 
Her role in Scream Queens is "the best part I'll ever have in my life." In the script she's read for Episode 8, "I get a meal. I get a Melisse dinner in a paragraph," Curtis said, citing a pricey Santa Monica French restaurant. "I have never had words like this to say. I'm peeling away someone's veneer with my words, with my very gentle, hard, biting, stiletto words. It is so ama-a-a-a-zing."  
 
The principal characters in Scream Queens regularly say "horrible things" to each other, Curtis acknowledged. But in her view, it's all good.  
 
"It's a social satire," she said. "We all live in this protected bubble where we're trying to behave and look a certain way. This show filets the imagined behaviors of human beings and it actually shows, I think, what people really are. Which is inherently unhappy and angry, frustrated human beings who are trying desperately to hold it together. Everything you think about every single one of these characters -- you don't know sh#& about anything. Because everyone is wearing a mask. And this show peels off those masks each week."    
 
Curtis grew up in both the spotlight and the shadow as the daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. She and Guest have two adopted children, Annie, 28, and Thomas, 18. Neither has seen any of her Halloween movies, she said.  
 
"They could care less. I mean, honestly, here's the thing," she said. "Children of famous people have their own dreams and aspirations. And it is our job as parents to make them the stars of the family -- and not us. They roll their eyes at me all the time. I am the most uncool human being you would ever want to know."  
 
We beg to differ.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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