Fourth-Place Fox Seeks A Reboot

The network is saying good-bye to American Idol, and saying hello to a slew of science fiction and horror shows, including Scream Queens and Minority Report. Plus, watch trailers for some of the new series.


When it was at its height, American Idol was the last of its kind, an entertainment program that could draw an audience of tens of millions of live viewers. Fox ascended to the top of the mountain on Idol's back, and was the No. 1 network among 18- to 49- year-olds for eight seasons in a row. The problem was, the network didn't have much else, and so when Idol began to erode, and eventually plummet, Fox too fell off the peak. Less than a year ago, Kevin Reilly, Fox's entertainment chairman, was ousted after he failed to find scripted shows that would stabilize the network for yet another season. Dana Walden and Gary Newman, who oversee Fox's studio, were brought in to run the network also.

On Monday, Walden and Newman announced Idol would come to an end after its fifteenth season, which will air in 2016. "It was not an easy decision," Newman said during a conference call with press on Monday morning. "American Idol has been such a vital part of Fox for its run. We spent a lot of time talking to producers… and collectively we all arrived at the conclusion that it was time to bring the show to an end." Newman said Season 15 will be "a true season-long celebration ... We're already talking about surprises we can have for the fans to make it feel special." Walden mentioned that there is "a lot of enthusiasm" among former judges and contestants about returning for the final season. And though conversations are underway, nothing is set yet.

Fox's current pride and joy is Empire — ironically, a show Reilly programmed — which is the biggest drama success network television has had in years. But almost nothing else on Fox worked this season. Gotham did well enough; Last Man on Earth did OK, too, but isn't the big hit it was supposed to be; and the Sunday night comedy lineup is a stalwart (though weaker than it was). Other than that, whoa. The two-night-a-week reality experiment Utopia was met with total audience rejection. Red Band Society and Mulaney (a show Reilly seemed to love) were DOA. Gracepoint was canceled, Backstrom was canceled, and so was Weird Loners. A drama called Hieroglyph that was announced at last year's upfront was killed before it started production.

And Fox's returning shows, such as its sole 2013-14 hit Sleepy Hollow — as well as New Girl and The Mindy Project — all sank too. (Mindy did not survive.) Fox fell to fourth place behind NBC, CBS, and ABC.

It's a season Fox would want erased from history. Looking forward, it's probably wise not to try to copy the over-the-top soap success of Empire (which will air in two nine-episode parts next season), but pairing it with Rosewood — led by Morris Chestnut — makes sense. Fox's other new offerings prove it is leaning heavily on genre programming: Minority Report, Scream Queens, The Frankenstein Code, Lucifer, and The X-Files all have sci-fi or horror trappings. It's an interesting strategy, given that those sorts of shows have not been mass hits on Fox or any other network in recent years, but they do attract devoted followings (and angry fanbases when they are canceled).

Whether the network can make a splash with the final season of Idol will be one thing to look for from Fox's 2015-2016 season, the first with Newman and Walden as chairmen. Another will be whether X-Files will be as good as it was for its first few seasons, or even close. New Girl has been moved to midseason because of Zooey Deschanel's pregnancy. Walden said the January premieres date "allows us to schedule 22 episodes to air consecutively with no interruptions … that's going to be a goal of ours as well." And if Sleepy Hollow can rebound creatively, viewers might return.

But most important of all, can Empire sustain itself? Can Cookie find some friends to help her carry this network?

A few other notable details:

—Ne-Yo will join Timbaland to write original music for Empire Season 2. Walden also said there are some "amazing guest stars that have lined up to be on this show."

—Production The X-Files begins in June. "We think it'll be a huge reward for fans of this legendary show," Walden said. :It's taken us a very long time to get these three back together." She promised the show would be rewarding for longtime fans (with some mythology-heavy episodes) and new ones, but said creator Chris Carter hasn't told them much.

—There could be more 24 in our futures. "We have been developing another version of 24, but it's still fairly early in the development process," Newman said.

The full schedule is at the bottom of the story, and the new shows are now arranged in night-of-the-week order.

Minority Report (Mondays at 9 p.m.)


Who's in it? Meagan Good, Stark Sands, Wilmer Valderrama, Daniel London, Laura Regan, Li Jun Li, Zhane Hall

Who created it? Max Borenstein, Steven Spielberg, Kevin Falls, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Mark Mylod

What's it about? This sequel to the futuristic 2002 Steven Spielberg feature of the same name picks up a decade after the end of the specialized police department Pre-crime, which uses Pre-cogs to predict future crime. Still, 10 years later, one of the three Pre-cogs, Dash (Sands), can't detach from his Pre-crime life and is unable shake his visions of the future. But when he meets the fearless detective Lara Vega (Good), he realizes she could be the one to help him realize why what seems like a curse isn't necessarily a bad thing.

First impression? "At first, this feels like the fantastic Fox series 24: a man trying to stop catastrophes just before they happen. But Dash (Stark Sands), who can see the future but only in snippets, is nothing like Jack Bauer. I'll give that a temporary pass since this show is from Steven Spielberg, who was behind the movie of the same name from which Minority Report's events continue. But considering the attack in the trailer failed to peek my engagement, I'm skeptical as to how it'll hold my attention for an entire season." —Emily Orley

Premieres Sept. 21

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Scream Queens (Tuesdays at 9 p.m.)


Who's in it? Lea Michele, Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts, Abigail Breslin, Keke Palmer, Ariana Grande

Who created it? Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan

What's it about? The previously announced horror-comedy takes place on a college campus that's under threat from a masked murderer.

First impression? "There is no 2015-2016 show I'm more excited for than Scream Queens, Ryan Murphy's sorority slasher series that combines the mean girls of Glee, the campiness of American Horror Story, and aspiration for perfection that is Nip/Tuck. Set at fictional Wallace University's Kappa Kappa Tau, the series legitimately has everything (a masked devil murdering everyone; geeks-turned-sorority-sisters, The Chanels instead of The Heathers, etc.) and everyone (see that epic cast listing above), but the trailer was a bit of a mess tonally. It was certainly funny and stylish, but is this show supposed to be scary or just silly? I didn't get much of the former from these couple minutes of footage, unfortunately. And that's what Murphy does best." —Jaimie Etkin

Premieres Sept. 22

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Rosewood (Wednesdays at 8 p.m.)

Jeff Daly / FOX

Who's in it? Morris Chestnut, Jaina Lee Ortiz, Gabrielle Dennis, Anna Konkle, Maggie Elizabeth Jones

Who created it? Todd Harthan, Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen, Richard Shepard

What's it about? The endlessly optimistic Dr. Beaumont Rosewood (Chestnut) is a private pathologist for Miami's elite — he solves cases others can't, which is good because death abounds. And as is de rigueur for procedurals these days, the yin to his yang is a cynical female detective.

First impression? "Beginning this trailer with Morris Chestnut shirtless was a good idea. But things quickly go downhill. As Miami's top private pathologist, Chestnut's Dr. Beaumont Rosewood has 'a love affair with death,' his new partner tells him. 'What happened to you?' Well, he has a heart condition and will die within the next decade. Let's just go back to the abs, shall we?"—Jaimie Etkin

Premieres Sept. 23

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Grandfathered (Tuesdays at 8 p.m.)

Jennifer Clasen / Fox

Who's in it? John Stamos, Josh Peck, Paget Brewster, Christina Milian

Who created it? Danny Chun, John Stamos, Dan Fogelman

What's it about? A man who has never settled down (so, basically, every character Stamos has ever played) finds his bachelor lifestyle thrown for a loop when he learns he has a child — and a grandchild.

First impression? "This series (in which John Stamos once again is struggling to help raise a baby he'll surely soon grow to love) feels a lot like the Full House pilot, except it's set in a restaurant instead of a house in San Francisco. Jimmy (Stamos), who can't even say the word "grandfather," has to quickly learn how to guide his grown-up son (Peck) and care for his infant granddaughter. His attempt to get the little girl to sleep in the restaurant kitchen definitely elicits flashbacks to when Uncle Jesse tried to figure out how to change Michelle's diaper. There were a few laugh-worthy moments in the trailer (and even an awww one), but time will tell if Grandfathered can strike the right notes." —Emily Orley

Premieres Sept. 29

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The Grinder (Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.)

Ray Mickshaw / FOX

Who's in it? Rob Lowe, Fred Savage, Natalie Morales, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, William Devane, Hana Hayes

Who created it? Jarrad Paul, Andrew Mogel, Nicholas Stoller, Jake Kasdan, Rob Lowe

What's it about? Lowe plays an adored actor who moves back to his hometown after his TV series — where he played a lawyer nicknamed “The Grinder” — comes to an end. But years of playing a lawyer on TV has given him the impression he can manage his family's law firm in real life.

First impression? "This looks like it's screaming, 'It's The Odd Couple, but with brothers! Who are lawyers!' While the sitcom seems an interesting choice for Fred Savage's return to a lead acting gig after building an impressive directing resume, Rob Lowe has already proven he can sell a good joke while being almost oppressively handsome. Here’s hoping they find a complementary energy and make us care about these two guys. The glimpses of Rose Abdoo (Gilmore Girls, Parenthood) in the trailer were most welcome, though." —Andrea Battleground

Premieres Sept. 29

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The X-Files (premieres after the Super Bowl on Jan. 24)


Who’s in it? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, silly!

Who created it? Chris Carter, fools!

What’s it about? It's about the truth being out there, dimwits!

Lucifer (Midseason TBD)


Who's in it? Tom Ellis, Lauren German, Rachael Harris, DB Woodside, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Nicholas Gonzalez, Scarlett Estevez

Who created it? Tom Kapinos, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, Ildy Modrovich, Len Wiseman

What's it about? In this series that's based on the characters from DC Entertainment's Vertigo imprint, Lucifer (Ellis) is over his reign in hell, so he steps down from the throne and heads for a new life in Los Angeles. Still, he can't help but be a punisher, so he joins the LAPD.

First impression? "As an avid Sandman fan, I was pretty excited to learn that the character created by Neil Gaiman and expanded by Mike Carey’s spinoff comic series for Vertigo was getting his own series. But this trailer was pretty underwhelming. Tom Ellis’ Lucifer-as-an-LAPD cop just came off as a smug retread to me. With a sandbox that includes the devil himself unleashed in the City of Angels, the possibilities are endless. The relationship between the lead character and Mazikeen (renamed "Maze" and played by Lesley-Ann Brandt) is a crucial one in the original material, and it’ll be interesting to see how (or whether) that is incorporated here." —Andrea Battleground

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The Frankenstein Code (Midseason TBD)


Who's in it? Rob Kazinsky, Dilshad Vadsaria, Adhir Kalyan, Tim DeKay, Ciara Bravo

Who created it? Rand Ravich, Howard Gordon, Michael Cuesta

What's it about? After a corrupt cop dies, he's brought back from the dead and given a second chance to right the wrongs he committed in his first life.

First impression? "This show (from the masterminds behind 24 and Homeland) seems like it could be great, but it's too confusing to tell at this point. It starts with Jimmy as an old man who is killed and then put into a tank to be resurrected. He then wakes up in the body of his younger self, and has only a day to protect his son from the man who appears to be the same one who killed his older self. There's a lot going on!" —Emily Orley

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The Guide to Surviving Life (Midseason TBD)

Ray Mickshaw / FOX

Who's in it? Jack Cutmore-Scott, Meaghan Rath, James Earl, Charlie Saxton, Justin Bartha, Maureen Sebastian

Who created it? Jay Lacopo, Gail Berman, Bill Callahan, James Griffiths

What's it about? A comedy about the trials and tribulations a group of college grads endure.

First impression? "Maybe it's the presence of Justin Bartha, the kidnapping, or the disaster-filled rager, but The Guide to Surviving Life looks likes The Hangover for the post-collegiate set, complete with red cups, food trucks, lots of beer, neon necklaces, an average white dude, a token dude of color, a shorty nerdy dude, and an attractive (but not entirely unapproachable) white dude. I did not laugh once (especially not when Bartha talked about how annoying his pregnant wife is and hung up on her)." —Jaimie Etkin

Bordertown (Midseason TBD)


Who’s in it? Voices TBD!

Who created it? Mark Hentemann (creator) and Seth MacFarlane (executive producer). Alex Carter and Dan Vebber are co-executive producers.

What’s it about? Animation sure does take awhile; this project was announced in 2013, and was in our Fox post last year. Bordertown — eventually! — will be a satire about immigration told through two families who live on the Mexican-U.S. border.

First impression? "Bordertown is finally making its way to TV this season... or so Fox says. But the short snippets shown of the new animated Seth MacFarlane series are a bit uneven, leaning towards unfunny. The jokes feel either tame (Mexican foods sets a white guy's mouth and ass on fire; frat boys puke into sombreros, etc.) or lamely distasteful (a stripper's son takes a bill out of her g-string for his lunch money)." —Jaimie Etkin

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Here is Fox's Fall 2015 schedule:


Gotham 8 p.m.

*Minority Report 9 p.m.


*Grandfathered 8 p.m.

*The Grinder 8:30 p.m.

*Scream Queens 9 p.m.


*Rosewood 8 p.m.

Empire 9 p.m.


Bones 8 p.m.

Sleepy Hollow 9 p.m.


Masterchef Junior 8 p.m.

World's Funniest 9 p.m.


Fox Sports Saturday: Fox College Football


NFL on Fox 7 p.m.

The OT / Bob's Burgers 7:30 p.m.

The Simpsons 8 p.m.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine 8:30 p.m.

Family Guy 9 p.m.

The Last Man On Earth 9:30 p.m.

Note: In mid-May every year, the five television broadcast networks — NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, and The CW — present their new shows and upcoming schedules to advertisers at events called "the upfronts." That's why you see an onslaught of new programming in May, as well as the cancellation of current shows. This post will be continually updated.



A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.