3:28pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Fox Orders Lee Daniels' Hip-Hop Drama, Octavia Spencer's 'Red Band Society' to Series
Fox is adding to its drama slate for the 2014-15 season. The network has picked up hip-hop drama Empire and its remake of Spanish drama Red Band Society starring Octavia Spencer.
Written and exec produced by The Butler's Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, Empire is a family drama set in the world of a hip-hop empire. Taraji P. Henson stars as Cookie Lyon, the ex-wife of Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), the head of a record label at the center of the drama.
Strong and Daniels penned the script for Empire, while Daniels will make his TV directing debut with the project. From 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine, Brian Grazer will executive produce alongside Daniels, Strong and Francie Calfo.
Gabby Sidibe co-stars alongside regulars Jussie Smollett, Malik Yoba, Kaitlin Doubleday, Trai Byers, Grace Gealey and Tasha Smith. The drama will feature original and current music, with Timbaland on board as a songwriter/music producer.
The drama had been generating solid buzz throughout pilot season, with the additional revenue streams to come from the original music sales, likely also contributing to the network's decision to pick up the drama. Fox picked up the drama after a multiple-network bidding war, ordering Empire to pilot with an eye toward series pickup under its new development model.
The series will become the third scripted musical show on broadcast TV, joining Fox's Glee -- which also hails from producers 20th Century Fox Television -- and ABC's country music drama Nashville, from producers Lionsgate TV.
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Red Band Society, meanwhile, is described as a dark dramedy that focuses on the daily lives of a group of teenagers living in a hospital who become unlikely friends. The depth of the unexpected friendships allows them to survive the challenges of growing up under such intense circumstances. Spencer stars alongside Dave Annable in the drama from ABC Studios, DreamWorks and Amblin Television. Spencer will make her series TV debut in the drama, which hails from Boardwalk Empire's Margaret Nagle and exec producers Steven Spielberg, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank and Sergio Aguero. The series marks a rare off-network sale for ABC Studios.
Empire and Red Band Society mark the fourth and fifth new drama pickups at Fox for the 2014-15 television season. It joins Batman prequel Gotham and Hart Hanson's Backstrom, as well as Egyptian drama Hieroglyph, the latter two of which were picked up straight to series.