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Fox Rebuilds Post 'Idol' Lineup
August 9, 2016  | By David Hinckley

If you’ve got to rebuild, Fox entertainment executives told TV writers Monday, it doesn’t hurt to use familiar blocks.

And Fox does have to rebuild in the post-American Idol era, admitted Fox Entertainment Group Chairman and CEO Dana Walden, so its upcoming lineup will include reworked versions of Lethal Weapon, The Exorcist (top) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Since Fox has also commissioned the return of Prison Break, 24 and The X-Files, Walden admitted the obvious, that familiarity is a good way to get attention in the crowded world of television these days.

“But it doesn’t mean anything,” she stressed, “if you don’t have a good show.”

The TV version of Lethal Weapon, which stars Damon Wayans Sr. and Clayne Crawford, (left) premieres Sept. 21. The Exorcist premieres Sept. 23, and the new Rocky Horror Picture Show movie will air Oct. 20.

Those are not, however, Walden said, the only attractions with which Fox hopes to rebuild the network’s fortunes.

Mariah Carey will guest-star on Fox’s most popular show, Empire, on Oct. 5. Two of the network’s most popular comedies, New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, will do a crossover episode on Oct. 11. The Simpsons will have its first-ever hour-long episode in January.

Fox is also hoping to tie into its Major League baseball telecasts with a new drama called Pitch, which premieres Sept. 22.

Kylie Bunbury stars as Ginny Baker, the first woman to pitch in the Majors. But Paris Barclay, executive producer and director, said it’s not just a show about baseball.

“If it were, I wouldn’t have done it,” he said, explaining that the show focuses more on the characters and the off-field obstacles that Baker faces as she becomes an object of national attention.

Walden said Fox decided to schedule Pitch on Thursday nights after Kerry Washington’s pregnancy forced ABC to delay this season’s premiere of Scandal until spring.

Until then, said Walden, “We didn’t want to go up against [Scandal creator] Shonda [Rhimes].”

Walden said Fox spent two years finding the right creative team to bring back The Exorcist, the classic 1973 horror film with Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair. She said the original charge was to find something “really scary.”

On the lighter side, Fox will debut the semi-animated series Son of Zorn after a football doubleheader on Sept. 11 before it moves to its regular timeslot on Sept. 25.

Zorn, voiced by Jason Sudeikis, is an animated warrior from a remote Pacific island whose idea of a good day is to slay his enemies and drink their blood from the skulls of their children.

But it turns out he also has an ex-wife and a son in Orange County, and since the son is 17, Zorn decides he must move back to the States, buy a shirt and get an office sales job so he can get to know the boy and win back the ex-wife, played by the real-life Cheryl Hines.

There’s a bit of a culture clash.

Further down the line, Fox Entertainment Group President David Madden said Fox has had “significant conversations” with Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny about another round of X-Files episodes, despite the fact last season’s revival had mediocre ratings and reviews.

Madden also said Fox was initially skeptical about bringing back Sleepy Hollow after the departure of Nicole Beharie, whose Abbie Mills had been the center of the show along with Tom Mison’s Ichabod Crane.

But Madden said the creators convinced the network they could bring in new characters who could revitalize the story. Sleepy Hollow will return in midseason.


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