Tag: empire

The Finest (ABC) pilot preview: Hail to the Queens

Written and executive produced by Pam Veasey (CSI: New York, CSI: Cyber, Washington Police). Also produced by Robin Roberts (Good Morning America) & Regina King. Directed by Regina King (Being Mary Jane, Scandal, SouthLAnd). For ABCABC Studios, Royal Ties & Rock’N’Robin Productions. 60 pages. 2nd Revised Network Draft. 1/18/2018.

Description: the lives of five African-American sisters, Lena, Ella, Anise, Serena & Nicole, all officers in the NYPD, as they face the challenges of their high-risk jobs while juggling the responsibilities of marriage, motherhood and family. Raised in the borough of Queens by working-class parents, the Kendrick sisters are New York’s finest…

With Frances Turner (The Gifted, The Exes), Amirah Vann (How To Get Away With Murder, Underground), Tisha Campbell-Martin (Dr Ken, My Wife And Kids, Martin), Aubin Wise, Leigh-Ann Rose (Love Thy Neighbor), Zoe Robins (Power Rangers Ninja Steel), Michael Beach (The 100, The Game, Third Watch, ER), Eric Balfour (Haven, 24, Six Feet Under), Dorian Missick (Animal Kingdom, SouthLAnd), Gerardo Celasco (The Have and the Have Nots, Passions)…


You’ll Like It If You Already Like: BET & OWN shows, Shonda Rhimes’ shows…

Likely timeslot: Joining TGIT on thursday at 10 once How To Get Away Murder ends.


A whole team of powerful black women, from writer to director and producers, crafting a compelling story about a sisterhood of complex black women, that’s unprecedented on network television and beautiful and precious. I really hope ABC will proceed with a series order in may. Not only for the symbol and the huge step forward but also because it’s worth one judging by the script and because, as Empire and Scandal proved, there’s an audience waiting for it, desperately. There is not a single white person in a regular role in this show. So what? We got a ton of shows with only white people for years… The Finest is a bit messy sometimes and can’t be labeled as “a fine drama”, but it does have potential. You just have to deal with the fact that this premise is highly unlikely: what are the odds not 2, not 3, not 4, but 5 -and even 6- women from the same family -mostly sisters- all become police officers? I mean… It’s just weird. They make it believable somehow on the page but you just need to look beyond this, just relax and enjoy. EDIT: Turns out those sisters exist in real life! Good Morning America did a segment about them a few years ago!

Let me introduce you to our main characters, who all have secrets. Some are included in my descriptions, some others I’ll keep, just so you still have surprises while watching it. First, there’s what we could call “the lead sister”, Lena Kendrick (played by Frances Turner). She’s not the oldest but she’s the highest ranking and accomplished. Witty and intelligent, Lena is the first African-American woman to be promoted to Assistant Chief in the department. But she struggles with the news that her cancer may be back. And there’s an incredible scene, a mash-up of two cult scenes in fact, when she takes her wig off (hello Viola Davis in HTGAWM!) -let’s see it as an hommage- and we discover a scar across her scalp (hello Kimberly Shaw in Melrose Place!). That’s quite powerful. Then we have Ella (Amirah Vann). She’s smart, kind, and principled, she goes out of her way to prove that police officers can still be good guys who treat people fairly. Married for 18 years, Ella is also a mother of three who struggles to balance her home life with her job. When she chooses to disregard protocol, her partner gets shot, putting his life and her career in jeopardy. There’s an interesting thread here since the call they responded to which was supposed to be about domestic abuse turns out to be a fake, an ambush designed to target a police officer… Also, Ella may be having an affair… with a woman! Yeah, it’s a lot for just one character.

Then we have Anise (Tisha Campbell-Martin), a witty, tough and outspoken patrol officer with a sharp sense of humor. She is immensely proud of her family, especially that her four sisters are in the NYPD, she was the first to join the force and kinda led the way. She has a daughter, Taylor (Zoe Robbins), who’s just been accepted in the police academy, and she’s not happy about it. She wanted her to become a lawyer, or at least get any college degree. Let’s move on to Nicole (Leigh-Ann Rose), an attractive, fit, strong-willed, tough detective. Her ex-boyfriend Jessie, who’s the father of their child, refuses to move out of Nicole’s apartment despite her wishes. He takes her to court to establish paternity and gain legal custody of their kid. Finally, there’s Serena (Aubin Wise), the youngest sister, a youthful and wholesome beauty, playful but tough who is happily married to her handsome architect husband. She’s a germaphobe. And kinky. She’s kind of the sister the story didn’t need, to be honest. Four would have been enough I guess. We’ll see what they’ll do with her but for now, she doesn’t have much to offer.

As I said earlier, it’s not “a fine drama”. By that, I mean it’s very very soapy, not always subtle, often on the nose. But it’s damn ambitious too. I mean, there are so many things going on at the same time, so many characters to introduce, both personal challenges and investigations to go through… It’s a damn lot! The writer did her best, I guess, to make it all fit. As a consequence, it’s fast-paced, with a few action-packed scenes in the streets of New York, but it never goes deep, there’s just not time left for that. The good side of it is that there are a lot of things left unsaid, especially about their family as a whole, their parents, their past, that they will be able to delve into later. It’s probably more of a script problem than an actual pilot problem, but you need an awfully long time to distinct the sisters. They’re all tough, they’re all beautiful, they’re all police officers of course, they’re all in their thirties or forties, they’re all fabulous… It will take more than one episode to understand the way their sisterhood works. Then again, it’s good to have things to look forward. You end up bloated but with a undeniable  desire to have some more.

The Finest‘s pilot wants to be all over the place and actually is. But when you think about it, it looks exactly like what ABC needs actually: a character-driven, female-fueled soapy drama, with police elements on the side, targeting a large audience, including an african-american demo mourning Scandal’s Olivia Pope. They’re offered like 5 Olivia Pope instead! Let’s just hope they don’t turn out as unbearable as her. For now, they’re queens from Queens and they’re just great as they are.

FOX’s 20 most exciting projects for 2018/2019 pilot season

The following article is based on descriptions mixed wih talents attached ONLY. None of the scripts have been read at this point.

This pilot season will be very weird for FOX. Why? Because the network as we knew it is about to die. As Disney bought 20th Century FOX Television -among other 21st Century FOX assets- which was their principal content provider with big names attached to it (like Ryan Murphy’s or Seth MacFarlane’s), the network will soon be without any in-house studio. Except if Sony, Lionsgate or god knows what other television studio becomes part of FOX, but it’ll take months before it becomes effective. Since the deal between 21st FOX Television & Disney has yet to be approved, it’s a season of transition and the executives may be very picky about their orders, while they may not be there next year. The more they pick-up 20th Century FOX Television projects, the more money they’re giving to Disney… It’s hard to know what’s really gonna happen so let’s see what they have in store regardless.

FOX is not having a bad year per say, but only their Empire/Star pairing is doing really good business for them. Everything else nagivates between big flops (virtually every comedy including their best hope The Mick, The Exorcist…), little flops (Gotham, Last Man On Earth) and okay performers (Lethal Weapon, Lucifer). Supernatural comedy Ghosted is doing okay on sunday while Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville is compensating its so-so live ratings with important gains on live+7. The Gifted, which was supposed to be their biggest new asset, disappointed and didn’t generate any buzz, despite being part of the X-Men universe, and has yet to be renewed. But with Ryan Murphy’s 911 and the new season of The X-Files coming, they may witness a ratings surge in the new year. Not all is lost… yet!





THE BAD DECISIONS PLAYLIST (20th Century FOX Television)

What?  focuses on 16-year-old Austin, who’s always messing up and then joking his way out of tough spots. The sudden appearance of his allegedly dead father, who happens to be the very-much-alive rock star Shane Tyler, spins his entire world out of orbit. Austin, a talented musician himself, is sucked into his newfound father’s alluring world while he discovers more about himself, his friendships and what it means to have this new modern version of a family.

Why? Is FOX turning into an all-musical network? If they add another music-fueled show to Empire & Star, it will start to look like it. But how can we blame them? It’s currently what works best for them… Writer and producer Lee Daniels is not involved in this one, but there’s still potential, especially if they bet more on the family part than the behind-the-scenes of the music industry. This Is Us lead the way for more family dramas, and this one may have what it takes to be different enough and somehow similar too.


BEING JUDGED (20th Century FOX Television)

What? No one likes being judged, least of all Josephine Graves, who is struggling to figure out this thing called life, while balancing her demanding career, social life, and family responsibilities; unfortunately for her, she has to do it all under the biggest, brightest, spotlight because at 27 years old she is the youngest judge in the history of America…

Why? FOX is out of the legal drama business for quite some time now. This project may be a interesting way in, though it doesn’t sound particularly original. But hey, as we’ve been proven multiple times the past few years, the simpler ideas can often lead to the best shows. Look at The Good Doctor and This is Us… If Being Judged has an Ally McBeal vibe to it, it’s a yes! Plus, we’re still waiting for women-led dramas on the network…


EAST OF HOPE (20th Century FOX Television)

What? set in an All-American working class town which centers around two families divided by a past event, and reconnected by blood; both tie their hopes and dreams to the high school basketball team, which they see as their ticket to a better life…

Why? Other than being musical shows imagined by Lee Daniels, Empire & Star have something else in common: they’re about black people coming from a poor environment trying to get better lives. That’s also the case with East of Hope but with basketball in the background. And guess who’s producing? Yes, Lee Daniels again! No-brainer, right?


KENTUCKY BLOOD (ABC Studios / 20th Century FOX Television)

What? Inspired by the revelation that the recipe for Jack Daniels whiskey was developed by a slave, Kentucky Blood is a heartland, family drama set in the bourbon business about deep, family secrets bubbling up to the surface. It follows two families intertwined by a complex history and a secret epic romance between two star-crossed lovers. One white. One black. A perfect storm of circumstance brings them back into each others lives as business partners, changing the old dynamic between them and disrupting their families lives.

Why? Am I the only one thinking it’s a bit odd FOX haven’t tried another big soap since Empire? If there’s a network that is in the best place to launch one right now, it’s FOX. This one is particularly interesting for multiple reasons : the setting, the “Romeo & Juliet” vibe, the multiracial love story… but it will need to be modern to work because the pitch sounds a bit old. I’m wondering why ABC didn’t keep it for themselves honestly.


MIDNIGHT LAWYER (20th Century FOX Television)

What? about a lawyer who gets his clients out of trouble they get into after dark. He used to live the NYC after-hours life and now he’s always striving to save people the way he saved himself – but this business comes with temptation…

Why? Another legal drama but this time with this particularity: it starts after dark and ends right before dawn. Is it enough to make it special? It will also need a good central character and as it is written here, we can imagine another anti-hero à la Dr House. Is this type of character a thing of the past now? Maybe. But it should be given a chance, just in case.


MIXTAPE (20th Century FOX Television)

What? drama that looks at a disparate group of interconnected people in contemporary Los Angeles through the lens of the music that defines who they are…

Why? Busy Quantico creator Josh Safran -he works on three pilots at the same time- is back to its musical roots after his stint on the second season of Smash that didn’t end well. Mixtape is reminiscent of critical darling La La Land, which is a good thing I guess. The worrying part is “a disparate group of interconnected people” because this type of concept rarely works on television. Remember Six Degrees or even Heroes. It’s really hard to sustain and it may not do well on a network. But it’s definitely intriguing.


OFF-SITE (20th Century FOX Television)

What? about a former “chaos agent” for the CIA who’s recruited by a UN investigator to help recover a missing artifact that surprisingly contains clues to a mythical reservoir said to be overflowing with an incredibly rare and immensely valuable fossil fuel, instantly igniting a pulse-pounding chase across the desert

Why? Adventure dramas are rare on television, probably because it’s a very hard thing to do, it needs big budget, but I’m always hoping for a good one. Maybe Off-Site will be it… Len Wiseman (Sleepy Hollow, APB, Lucifer) is involved as writer, director and executive producer. I’m not sure it’s a good thing though.


PROXY (20th Century FOX Television)

What? centered on a technology that allows online followers to live voyeuristically through the experiences of hedonistic young “Proxies” on a remote island paradise…

Why? John Francis Daley (Bones) is behind this very interesting sci-fi project developed by Anonymous Content (Mr Robot, True Detective, 13 Reasons Why…). It may not be such a good fit with a network but since that’s where it is at this time, let’s just cross our fingers so we get the chance to see it from our own eyes.


SURVEILLANCE (20th Century FOX Television)

What? A lens into the least understood organization in the United States the NSA. Its a high stakes, serialized, character-driven political thriller set in a world we really haven’t seen before all through the eyes of our hero and the NSAs secret keeper Madeline Yardley.

Why? The NSA storylines were not the best part of The Good Wife, and a spin-off about this world would not have worked, but I still think there’s a show to do about the NSA and it’s the only one in this pilot season that I know of. Matt Reeves (Planet of the Apes, Cloverfield) is involved as producer, which reassures me. That being said, there’s a reason why it’s “the least understood organization”: it’s always very complex and can easily become boring…



What? After twenty years of marriage, a couple try to reignite their passion and strengthen their family by starting over in paradise on earth: Hawaii; they move their two teenage kids to the island of tourist fantasies, but the reality of paradise is not all sun, surf, and sex on the beach – dark family secrets, a complicated social structure they don’t understand, old mistakes, and messy new relationships threaten to tear the Campbell family apart, even as they struggle to find their way back to each other

Why? As a big supporter of family dramas, I find this one particularly interesting thanks to the Hawaii setting and the culture attached to it. Escapism and emotion, that’s a really good plan, isn’t it? If it’s as good as Alexander Payne’s movie The Descendants, we have a winner! But let’s not set the bar too high already…


UNTITLED L.A. WOMEN PROJECT (20th Century FOX Television)

What? Longtime friends Reza, June, Amelia, and Indie who have climbed to the top of the Hollywood ladder together as a lawyer, an actress, a writer-producer, and an entrepreneur. It all looks pretty enviable from the outside, and they all enjoy the many perks of their high-flying lifestyles – but there’s no such thing as having it all, at least not all at the same time. Each of them has made significant sacrifices to get where they are. When a face from their past resurfaces in the pilot, they have to confront some ugly buried secrets and protect their lives from being destroyed.

Why? Eva Longoria can’t get over Desperate Housewives after Devious Maids apparently, with this project that she’s producing that takes one aspect of it -4 women friends- to another environment: Hollywood! It’s timely, especially if those women are confronted to very bad men like Harvey Weinstein and so many others… There’s potential, as long as it’s not just another funny dramedy with cartoonesque characters that are mostly here to make us laugh and cry easily. Make it a profound feminist soap or don’t do it at all.


VICTORY (20th Century FOX Television)

What? set in the world of competitive gospel choirs which tells the inspirational story of a prodigal son and a group of forgotten young people who must rise above their personal hardships to save a church and heal a broken community through the power of song

Why? Well… Yeah, of course it’s from Lee Daniels again. What can I say? He certainly has deep obsessions and Victory is exactly what we could expect from him, no surprise here. But I can’t help thinking that this gospel choirs idea is good and it’s something that could touch people’s hearts as long as it’s not too preachy. Gospel is empowering and an amazing thing to witness in a church, if you get the chance. Would it work on a weekly basis? Yeah, if the community the characters form is well-defined and relatable, not on the “bigger-than-life” side.


FOX is also developing a small screen take on James Cameron’s 1994 feature True Lies about a super-spy whose family discovers his real job, by McG; a new anthological take on the 24 franchise which would center on a female prosecutor who uncovers a legal conspiracy and has to work against the clock to save a death row inmate facing imminent execution whom she had helped prosecute but may be innocent; a retelling of the King Lear story produced by Milo Ventimiglia called Cordelia; a sequel to the 1970s David Carradine-led TV series Kung-Fu produced by Greg Berlanti (?!); more Lee Daniels projects; The Nice Girls, a contemporary gender flipped TV series based on Shane Black’s 2016 feature film The Nice Guys, about two very different PIs; many cop show…




COOL KIDS (20th Century FOX Television) – picked up to pilot

What?  about three guy friends in a retirement community who are the top dogs until they’re blown out of the water by the newest member of the community, a female rebel who’s ready to challenge their place – it’s high school with 70 somethings…

Why? I like old people having existential crisis and also a lof of fun in the process. If it can be as good as The Golden Girls or Grace and Frankie, I’m in. If it’s as shitty as FOX last attempt Dads: definitely out!

MS. PAT (20th Century FOX Television)

What?  the story of a most unlikely suburban mom; her hustle and entrepreneurial spirit were forged on the mean streets of Atlanta, but she now finds herself in conservative middle America alongside her loving husband and two distinct sets of kids raised under very different circumstances

Why? Redeveloped leftover from last year – Empire‘s Lee Daniels & Brian Grazer are behind this family comedy project that could be great if Ms. Pat is as hilarious a character as Cookie. I don’t know a thing about stand-up comedian Patricia Williams who’s attached to play the role but I feel very confident about this one.


MURDERTOWN (20th Century FOX Television)

What?  about a New York radio journalist who, after a career-ending gaffe, returns to her hometown in Cape Cod and takes a job at the local newspaper, hoping to uncover a headline-grabbing true crime story that will get her back in the spotlight…

Why? It could have been the pitch of a drama but since it’s a comedy, we can expect a true-crime parody in the vein of Trial & Error or American Vandal. There’s still time but not so much before this type of projects become outdated so it’s now or never, FOX.


ONE HIT WENDY (20th Century FOX Television)

What? about Wendy, a one-hit wonder who peaked at 18, who tries to guide her talented niece, Jordan, through the music industry and keep her from making the same mistakes she made… 

Why? If FOX develops so many music-fueled dramas, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t try it on the comedy-side too. This one sounds like the best of the crowd and it has one advantage: Julianne Hough, a popular judge from Dancing With The Stars -who won twice the competition before getting the gig- is attached for the lead role.


RESERVATIONS (20th Century FOX Television)

What? about a Native American family that trades their impoverished reservation for Los Angeles, a move inspired by the dreams of a 14-year-old boy to live in Hollywood

Why? Yet another family comedy but with an original angle. It makes me think of the best part of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Jacqueline and her native american parents. Curious to see how funny this cultural clash can play out.


REVIVAL (20th Century FOX Television)

What?  about Elliot, formerly the little kid from a beloved ’80s family sitcom and now living a normal life, who reluctantly gets sucked back into the show’s revival with his old TV family

Why? These days, with so many revivals on the air –Roseanne, Fuller House– this fake-family comedy from TV is simply genius! And the good news is Nahnatchka Khan (Fresh Off The Boat, Don’t Trust the B) is producing. I want it badly!


SPACEBOUND (Jackal Prod)

What? about an alien who goes on an intergalactic coffee run and finds herself stranded on “the worst planet in the universe”: Earth; a group of eccentric friends takes her in and she discovers she might actually be the most functional person in the world

Why? Similar projects are developped every year or so, I won’t tell you it’s incredibly original but instead of a 3rd Planet From The Sun reboot -that is not in the cards at this time- or worst an Alf one, why not?


STEP STRANGERS (Warner Bros. Television)

What? about five 20-something adults who are forced to become step-siblings after their overbearing divorced mother and oblivious widower father meet on a singles cruise and fall in love

Why? Elizabeth Banks is producing this one. I kinda like the premise. Think it’s like Happy Endings but if they were suddenly all brothers and sisters! Did I convince you? I just convinced myself.


What projects are you the most interested in among these? Take your picks!

FOX 2016/2017 Schedule / TRAILERS & THOUGHTS







8- 24: LEGACY

9- APB













































What’s good:

  • Because of the so so numbers of 24: Live Another Day, it makes sense for FOX to choose 24: Legacy for the post-superbowl slot, ensuring it the biggest premiere possible. Mondays should be fine in the fall and on midseason. Pairing APB with 24: Legacy is a really good idea on paper. They can work together and it helps a show that would have struggled without a strong lead-in.
  • Sundays are exactly like expected. It’s fine. If the shows are good, people will find them.
  • Moving Sleepy Hollow to fridays is logical. It has only been renewed for syndication purposes.
  • The comedy rotation on tuesday is pretty smart. But the night will still get very low ratings.

What’s bad:

  • The Lethal Weapon/Empire pairing looks dumb. FOX had two shows —Pitch & Star— that would have fit perfectly with their only hit show, but they looked the other way. Lethal Weapon has an african-american lead so yeah, of course it should go with Empire… Same reasoning they had with Rosewood last year. It didn’t flop but they could have done better. Empire will probably stay an island on the schedule.
  • Pitch, with so much potential, is thrown to the wolves, very far from the world series which should have been a great platform to promote it heavily…
  • The Exorcist on fridays? FOX love their genre friday. I get it. But lauching a new show on friday is always the sign of a disaster incoming. If you add the fact that The Exorcist is an impossible sell on a network… Cancelled after one season.
  • In what world Rosewood is a good lead-in for Prison Break? It seems like they don’t believe in this revival at all. And for that, I can’t blame them. Why is it happening exactly?

Spark (ABC) pilot preview: Can the new Empire be a dystopian steampunk soap?


Created and executive produced by Michael Cooney (Identity, 6 Souls). Directed by James Kent (Testament of Youth, The White Queen, Marchlands). Also exexutive produced by Ian Sander & Kim Moses (Ghost Whisperer, Profiler). For ABC, ABC Studios & Sander/Moses Productions. 58 pages.

Description: It is current day America, but not as we know it. Imagine electricity had never been discovered – in its place, gas and coal run the world and power our everyday devices. Now imagine the amount of power the people who own the gas and coal in this world would command. Two rival families, the Stocktons and the Lavelles, are battling for ages until a rebellious young woman, a tinker named Pin Jones, can level both their empires with a spark of invention…

With Antonia Thomas (Misfits), Regé-Jean Page (Roots, Waterlo Road, Fresh Meat), Tom Brittney (The Five, The Syndicate), Lena Olin (Alias, Welcome to Sweden, The Ninth Gate), Alex Lanipekun (Homeland, 24, MI-5), Austin Hébert, Tracy Ifeachor (The Originals, Crossbones), Vondie Curtis-Hall (Daredevil, ER, Chicago Hope), Rachel Hurd-Wood (Home Fires)…

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Despite the huge success of Hunger Hames worldwide and the honorable results of such movies as Divergent and The Maze Runner –-let’s not forget a few missteps like The 5th Wave recently– the dystopian genre has a hard time existing on television. Which is weird when you think about it since these movies work like series, through multiple episodes and cliffhangers at the end to make you come back the following year. We had The Lottery on Lifetime, if anyone remembers it. Guess not. The excellent The 100 of course. And not much else. Other attempts (The Selection at The CW, Delirium at FOX) were not picked-up to series. And I fear Spark will meet the same end. Even though I’m not totally convinced by its potential, I’d be curious to see what’s gonna happen in case it’s ordered. It could become another huge disappointment like Blood and Oil. Or maybe the new Empire is hiding behind it…

Most of the success of the pilot -a presentation was ordered first but they upped it to a full-length pilot then, which is a good sign– resides in its execution. The setting, the landscapes, as well as the costumes, need to be taken care of properly so that it doesn’t look cheap. The writer has a real vision of how this city and those people should look like in this alternate reality, circa 2016. It’s based on Steampunk, an aesthetic inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. He even offers a “look book” at the end of the script with visuals for cars working with coal cumbustion, underground bar and dance clubs, coffee machines or the heroine’s high heels. They decided to shoot in Prague, Czech Republic, to reduce the costs while most of the cast is coming from Europe, especially the UK. There’s no big name but promising newcomers, like Anthonia Thomas, a mini-Rihanna who was stunning in Misfits. Risky. But in case you haven’t notice, let me break it to you: the show can be labelled as “black”. 5 of the most prominent characters are. Good strategy. ‘cos that’s what it is. I’m probably going too far but imagine ABC slots the show on Wednesday at 10pm after Blackish, when Empire ends on FOX… Wouldn’t it be damn smart? Hire me ABC!

The network describes the show as a lavish primetime soap of passion, greed and hope. It’s true, it is. If it looks new and different from the outside, it’s very classical in the inside. Sometimes, it also feels a bit like a CW show with slightly older characters. Pin Jones is yet another Katniss Everdeen, a whip smart, courageous, independent, kind-hearted girl, soon to be torn between two men and two rival families: her boyfriend Captain Aidan Stockton, a rugged and sexy all man who’s deeply in love with her, he even hides a ring in his drawer; and Alex Lavelle, a more sophisticated handsome man, kind of douchy, who knows exactly who she is when he met her and has an agenda but can’t help liking her more than he should. You get the picture. A good ol’ love triangle. Pin’s mother is dead. Of course. She has a delinquent brother. A loving father. They’re tinkers. So they’re poor. Aidan’s mother is a great bitch. We’ll love hating her. Alex has a brother, who’s a terrible person. And an evil father. And Aidan’s most close friend and colleague happens to be Alex’s brother’s fiancée. Still following? Told you. It really is a soap.

But there’s action too, and many surprises. A few pages in, there’s a huge explosion, that kills someone. And later on, a coal train derails. And other people die. Won’t reveal you more but be sure a lot happens in this pilot. Like… maybe our Pin is on the verge of discovering something huge, that will change the face of humanity as they know it… At first, I had a hard time getting into the script. Those stories about gas and coal are so unsexy and sad. It lacks sparkle, electricity. It takes time before it gets interesting. It takes time before you can connect with the main characters. Too much time probably. But at some point, somehow, it starts to work. And you can see the potential and the emotional strength of this story. It resonates with our past and our present. It’s brighter than it looks. It’s more than a soap.

Spark is certainly a leap of faith for ABC. Sometimes, it’s good to take one. Especially since the network is in a tough situation. Before new boss Channing Dungey gets too scared of screwing her first little victories up –hoping she has some– there’s a window of opportunity to try new things, be bold. Spark is new. Sort of. And bold. A bit. And out of time. Why not giving it a chance? 

Star (FOX) pilot preview: Mini-Cookies building a whole new Empire


Created & executive produced by Lee Daniels (Empire, Precious, The Paperboy, The Butler) & Tom Donaghy (The Mentalist, The Whole Truth). Directed by Lee Daniels. Also produced by Effie Brown (Dear White People) & Pamela Oas Williams (The Butler). For FOX & 20th Century FOX Television. 53 pages.

Description: In the glamorous but cut-throat Atlanta music scene, three very different girls, two sisters and a friend, are coming together to form a band and rise to the top, helped by Miss Carlotta, the owner of a beauty salon with an amazing voice, who becomes a surrogate mother to them – even though she doesn’t approve of their musical dreams…

With Queen Latifah (Chicago, Bessie, Hairspray), Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order, Private Practice, Miss Congeniality), Jude Demorest (Dallas 2012), Ryan Destiny (Low Winter Sun), Brittany O’Grady (The Messengers), Nicholas Gonzales (Melrose Place 2009, Sleepy Hollow)…

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To those who think it’s easy to replicate a success, Empire is the proof it’s not. It took a year for FOX to find a suitable companion show for Empire and probably a year and a half before it’s on the air. Oh, last pilot season, they had Studio City, which was a pretty serious candidate but not produced in-house and when you deal with a phenomenon like Empire that gets you a ton of money, especially on a network where almost everything else is not working, you’d better think twice about what to do next. They first thought about remaking a forgotten movie, Urban Cowboy, but they rushed things and the pilot they shot ended up dead, rightfully (read the preview). They finally decided to take the easiest road: they asked Empire creator Lee Daniels to create another smash hit. He came up with Star, which is not an Empire spin-off but could have been. I don’t think it would have been a good idea though. Star is fine on its own. And forcing things rarely works. Plus they don’t need Cookie. They have their own.

I’d like to be upfront about one thing I’m convinced of: Empire without Cookie and Taraji P. Henson is nothing. Just a bunch of black males singing, doing so-so acting and being mostly irritating. She’s the star. She’s the reason why people watches it in the first place. And by the look of Star, I’d say Lee Daniels and FOX are totally aware of that and constructed the show with it in mind. It would be a mistake to announce Star, our heroin -‘cos it’s her first name- as a mini-Cookie. She has what it takes to become one at some point but we’re not there yet. And other characters like Queen Latifah’s Miss Carlotta give some Cookie vibes, and Cookie’s kind of punchlines. And it’s better this way on a longtime perspective: Star doesn’t rely on only one great character. But it takes at least three girls to make a Cookie…

Like Empire, the first pages are kind of ridiculous. No shades. No subtlety. But you become accustomed to it quickly and you get ready for the ride sooner than you expected. It starts as a roadtrip, from Pittsburgh (where Star is from) to Atlanta, with a stop in New York. And it’s engaging. Star, almost 18, leaves her foster home with three goals in mind. First, finding her sister, Simone, 16, who happens to be molested by her foster father. He may even have raped her but it’s unclear. Then, convincing Alexandra, her bestfriend she only met on the internet so far, to leave the Upper East Side where she lives with her wealthy family to go to Atlanta with her and create a band. They already wrote songs together, like “I Can Be”, heard throughout the pilot. Finally, doing whatever it takes in Atlanta to become the star she always dreamt to be, without ending up like her deceased mother: a junkie. On the road, they steal, they laugh, they sing, they argue, and it’s fun. Star is trash. And it makes her admirable for some reason. Simone is fragile, addicted but a nice gal. And Alexandra is Paris Hilton, but smarter.

When the girls arrive in Atlanta, it gets a little less fun but there are a few very enjoyable scenes like when they arrive in Miss Carlotta’s beauty salon where they meet colourful characters like Miss Bruce, a drag queen, or Danielle, who seems to come directly from Orange is the New Black. And also Cotton. Cotton is a very important character with a secret. The secret being… SPOILER ALERT… he’s a transvestite. He’s a boy, Miss Carlotta’s son, but he feels like a girl and dresses accordingly. And of course, he’s a lot of fun. I expected Carlotta Brown to be a new Cookie, but it turns out she was but she’s not anymore. Can she go back to her roots? She probably will. But for now, she’s a bigot. She believes in God and sings at church and she doesn’t want Star and her girls to make it in Atlanta’s musical scene. For a good reason: she tried a long time ago, and failed. And lost a lot in the process. Of course, Star is way too determined to listen to anything she has to say and towards the end of the pilot, she’s in deep shit! But she gets to sing in front of an audience composed of producers. That’s a start. I would be very happy to talk to you about the men in this story but there are only two main male characters: Derek, who has laid eyes on one of the girl, he’s Carlotta’s neighbor; and Jahill, someone from Carlotta’s past who looks like a good guy but he’s not. And Star will soon discover it. Lee Daniels is better at writing female characters, no doubt about it.

Star is exactly what FOX needs: a companion series for Empire that is not a copycat but another musical show set in another city, with different characters who are more Cookie than André, achieving different goals. In Empire, they try to stay on top. In Star, they try to be on top! It is aimed at a younger audience – partly the one FOX lost when Glee ended- but Star can totally please the Empire fans and become a big thing for the afro-american audience and the audience overall. It could be a fun show to watch and listen to. It’s joyful. It’s definitely more eccentric but with smaller ambitions. And maybe it’s better this way.

FOX’s 16 most exciting projects for 2016/2017 pilot season


 The following article is based on descriptions mixed wih talents attached ONLY. None of the scripts have been read at this point. 

What are FOX’s needs for next season?

  • With the departure of American Idol : more shows overall, quite simply!
  • A series to be paired with Empire. Not another Rosewood. Something that really is a right fit with the hit soap. Two would be good too, for each part of Empire‘s season => twice many chances at success!
  • More X-Files -10 or 12-episode season?- if season 10 works in a few days. Good launching pad for new dramas. Like a new rebooted 24 season might be too… Prison Break? They couldn’t resist this terrible horrible idea that is…
  • Less science-fiction that never works, more straight dramas (action, soap, legal, medical…) and finally a drama centered on an heroin! FOX is too many males.
  • One big comedy hit! Finally! New Girl didn’t become the one it was supposed to be a few years back. Since then: nothingness in that department.


Drama Scripts ordered: around 35 / Comedy Scripts ordered: around 35

Drama pilots ordered last year: 6 /  Comedy pilots ordered last year: 7

8 drama pilots should be ordered / 8 comedy pilots should be ordered


So far, FOX has had a terrible season with absolutely zero new show really working. Scream Queens, the highest marketed of the fall, started with horrible numbers in live+ same day and never recovered. FOX decided to order a second season anyway, because Ryan Murphy can do anything he wants on this network, and because appartently FOX is very happy with the numbers among… rich kids. There’s no reason for season 2 to attract a bigger crowd, though. Minority Report was a huge flop from the get go that everybody saw coming, except FOX apparently. Rosewood did OK numbers for a while and still do acceptable ones but without Empire as its lead-out, it will collapse. That’s 100% sure. Ok, let’s say 90%. It could still get a pity renewal. Then there’s the three new comedies. Grandfathered and The Grinder, as expected, are flops. One is a bigger one than the other but in the end it doesn’t make a big difference. They should just go. Cooper Barrett’s Guide To Surviving Life, despite its longer than life title, still has a shot after two weeks of airing. But let’s not count on this one for the long haul. After one airing, new drama Second Chance is DOA. It just leaves Lucifer. It has a big potential for success, especially since they decided to put it after The X-Files revival, even if they don’t really fit together.

In the older shows department, things don’t look good either. Empire is still a hit, no doubt about that. But season 2 is not creatively as strong as it should have been and the numbers kept on going down week after week. Disappointing for such a young and promising show. Last Man On Earth, which was a good surprise at midseason last year, couldn’t keep its momentum. Litteraly nobody talk about season 2. Numbers are decent, bit it’s another disappointment for FOX. Then there’s New Girl, that may live another year for syndication purposes, mostly. Brooklyn Nine-Nine keeps on moving on the schedule between sundays and tuesdays. But it’s still decent for now. Season 4 will happen. As long as FOX has bigger fish to fry…. Bones seems to be immortal. But it gets pricier every year, there’s a lawsuit going on… One day or another, they will have to pull the plug. Sleepy Hollow is half-dead. The Simpsons & Family Guy help keeping the lights on on sundays. No reason to stop them. And that’s pretty much it.

If the first pilot season of FOX’s new bosses was kind of a mess and a bit of a disaster, the next one looks much better on paper with broader concepts, lighter projects, varied genres and ideas. It’s not anymore just about strong male figures investigating. A big amount of soaps have been developed, as well as food-oriented dramas. God knows why. On the comedy side, there are more high-concept shows in the vein of Last Man On Earth and a few family comedies “à la ABC”. Let’s see what is the best they have in store!





305 (Endemol Shine Studios)

What? a teen pulled from his rundown high school is sent to live with his uncle, a celebrity chef, and attend the wealthiest private school in Miami, where he attempts to acclimate himself to his new surroundings while dealing with relationships, family drama, work and all the problems that more money brings…

Why? The OC sets in Miami with a cooking twist? That’s pretty much it, yeah. But we loved The OC. Didn’t we? If they find a way to make something else, more adult maybe, with this pitch, I’m in! Are you?


THE DIVINE MONSTER (Warner Bros. Television)

What? chronicles the fall of the wealthy Vega family of Miami, whose real estate empire is built upon decades of greed, corruption, generally bad behavior and an alarming number of curious deaths…

Why? FOX wants a second Empire. And this one might be, with a darker tone and probably no music. As for every family soap, it’s hard to judge on a pitch only. They all look the same… BUT this one is from Ugly Betty creator Silvio Horta, and produced by Brett Ratner, who’s supposed to direct the pilot if it’s ordered. Not bad. Oh and I forgot to tell you it’s adapted from a Belgian show…



What? small screen take on Grady Hendrix’s novel about 26-year-old Amy, who, newly sober, she lands a job at ORSK, the U.S. Flagship of the European furniture superstore, only to discover the store actually preys upon its customers’ desires to a supernatural degree, selling products that make their wishes and fantasies come true in unexpected and insidious ways

Why? With Scream Queens, the horror genre proved to be very difficult to impose on a network. But this project is created by Josh Schwartz (The OC, Chuck), the first one he wrote since… Gossip Girl! We want to see that.


IN DEEP (20th Century FOX Television / Lionsgate)

What? about undercover FBI agents who live double lives, as they investigate a new case each season…

Why? Anthology dramas are popular these days, and this one looks a bit different thanks to the double agents part of the description. Plus, we haven’t had one in the action department so far. It’s very FOX-y.


ON THE LINE (20th Century FOX Television)

What? a female chef, Juna Kim, a man-izing, motorcycle-riding force of nature must battle the banging and brawling chaos of her restaurant staff, the disdain of her old-school Korean parents, and the return of her estranged ex-husband, all while struggling to push her career beyond the famous burger that made her a star…

Why? I doubt FOX will bet on a drama with a mostly asian cast. But one can only hope… More importantly, it would be nice to have a show happening in the restaurant world which is not a comedy. AMC is launching one this year and if it works, FOX would be happy to have one in store. Maybe it’s the next big trend!


PROTOCOL ORPHANS (20th Century FOX Television)

What? about a foster family of orphans who are trained by the US government as covert operatives, protecting their country during the day and battling each other at night

Why? I have no idea if the comics book series it’s based on -co-created by actor Peter Facinelli- is any good, but the mix between family drama and action-fulled story doesn’t look bad on paper.


SUMMER PEOPLE (Sony Pictures Television)

What?  a fictional version of Martha’s Vineyard, an island known for the movie stars, politicians and Wall Street power brokers who descend there every summer, disrupting the lives of the blue collar locals…

Why? This doesn’t sound like a show we would find on FOX, but I like the idea. It could turn into a sunny and sexy soap. Let’s make it devious and twisty too!



What? drama about three brilliant young doctors who grew up together in Compton and are reunited at an extraordinary cutting-edge hospital in Beverly Hills…

Why? When every network was looking for a medical drama last year, FOX came up with… Rosewood. Which is mostly a detective drama after all. So maybe it’s time to give a real try at the genre, and this idea doesn’t look bad. And it’s produced by Howard Gordon (24, Homeland, X-Files), meaning it could even be good!


WATCHDOG (20th Century FOX Television)

What? drama billed as a new-era procedural about a team of vigilante activists who expose abuses of power – while evading the FBI…

Why? Sounds complex and not fun at all, but they have the balls to present it as something revolutionary, at least for the procedural genre. Give them a chance to prove it! Plus, Jason Winer should direct the pilot. He’s known for directing comedies mostly, like Modern Family & Life in Pieces. Maybe it’s fun after all?



BELLES & WHISTLES (20th Century FOX Television)

What?  about an unfulfilled father who, when fired from his comfortable tech job in Silicon Valley, decides to move his dysfunctional family to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue his lifelong dream of music stardom

Why? This is a project that could have ended up at ABC! Exactly the kind of family comedy we can expect from them, not from FOX. And with Nashville that could end soon, the city would probably be very happy to have another show shot over there…


HOSED (20th Century FOX Television)

What? about volunteer firefighters in America’s second-rainiest town…

Why? That pitch doesn”t say much, except it could be a nice offbeat comedy. It’s produced by Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell.


IN TIME (20th Century FOX Television)

What? revolves around three friends who find a way to travel through time for truth, justice, and riches, which complicates their lives in 2016.  They visit some of the greatest moments of the past as they try to resolve their personal problems, while history and pop culture comically collide.

Why? The duo Chris Miller/Phil Lord behind Last Man On Earth is on fire with multiple projects for FOX, including a reboot of The Greatest American Hero and already picked-up to series Son of Zorn. This one is even more ambitious than the others and could be a very entertaining and smart show to watch on a daily basis, like no other.  PICKED-UP


THINK LIKE A MAN (Sony Pictures Television)

What? small screen take on Steve Harvey’s book-turned-film franchise about the never-ending battle of the sexes from four very different points of view: newly married, moving in, breaking up and hooking up

Why? After the “black” drama Empire, FOX would be verry happy to have a black comedy too on the schedule. Think Like A Man, which is very popular, could definitely turn into a hit TV show if it’s made the right way. And since it’s the same team who developed it, it looks like a sure bet!



What?  about a coarse, blue-collar woman who moves to affluent Greenwich, CT to raise the outrageously spoiled kids of her wealthy sister and brother-in-law, who have fled the country to avoid prosecution for illegal activities

Why? Sounds like the perfect recipee for a cool family comedy with bigger than life characters, as long as the children are not irritating to the point we would just want to change the channel after five minutes!



What? about a larger-than-life federal judge and the overworked twentysomethings who clerk for him…

Why? Not many comedies took the legal route lately. It seems like a cool setup for a Parks And Reacreation/Brooklyn Nine Nine-like show. And Michael Schur, the creator of those two, is producing.


WHERE ARE THEY NOW? (20th Century FOX Television)

What? comedy in which the hilarious ins-and-outs of an Internet company are revealed as police investigate why everyone who worked there has disappeared

Why? Not sure they could pull off 4-5 seasons with such a concept, but it’s a very original idea nonetheless.


What projects are you the most interested in among these? Take your picks!