Among the new Fox dramas that impressed buyers were Gracepoint, a 10-episode mystery series about the death of a young boy and the subsequent investigation; Red Band Society, about a group of teenagers who meet as patients in the pediatric ward of a Los Angeles hospital dealing with everything from depression to cancer; Batman prequel Gotham; Wayward Pines, another 10-episode mystery series about a Secret Service agent trying to find two missing agents in a town that never lets anyone leave; Backstrom, starring Rainn Wilson as an overweight detective with a knack for solving crimes; and sitcom Mulaney, starring Saturday Night Live writer and comedian John Mulaney, in what the network likened to early Seinfeld.
Buyers also praised Fox for bringing onto the schedule Empire, a drama about the head of a hip-hop music empire whose must choose which of his three sons inherits the spot at the top of his company, a decision further complicated by the return of his ex-wife. This series, with a predominantly African-American cast headed by Terrence Howard, will also feature an original soundtrack written and produced by Timbaland.
Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly describes Empire as “a behind-the-scenes, sort of an Upstairs Downstairs of the hip-hop world,” adding, “I think it’s timely. It feels real contemporary. And we’re going to have chart-topping music. It will be paired with American Idol, which will be streamlined and have a new format. I think that’s going to be a potent night [in midseason].”
One buyer was excited for brands that want to reach a sizable African-American audience, praising Fox for spending the dollars to develop this series.
Of the new scripted series that Fox showed clips on, the only one most buyers polled were skeptical about was Hieroglyph, a drama set in ancient Egypt that follows an ex-thief now serving the Pharaoh.
Another question mark, buyers felt, was reality series Utopia, from Big Brother creator John de Mol and based on the Dutch hit of the same name, which brings 15 Americans to an isolated and undeveloped location for an entire year and challenges them to work together to build their own civilization from scratch. The concept is a bit different than Survivor, and is more like an outdoor Big Brother, but a lot will depend on how the initial audience bonds with the group.