5:00pm PT by Lacey Rose, Lesley Goldberg
Fox Orders 'Frankenstein' Reboot, John Stamos, Rob Lowe Comedies, Medical Drama 'Rosewood,' More
A week ahead of Fox’s May 11 upfront presentation, the network has begun doling out series orders.
Of the 12 pilots that Fox ordered this season — excluding Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens, which was granted a straight-to-series order, and a Luther reboot that was rolled off-cycle — the network is making series commitments for Rob Lowe comedy The Grinder and medical drama Rosewood. Additionally, the network has ordered John Stamos comedy Grandfathered, The Guide to Surviving Life (six episodes) and genre reboot The Frankenstein Code. All five hail from studio counterpart 20th Century Fox Television, with the three comedies all single-camera.
The orders come as Fox TV Group chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman settle into the job that they inherited in summer 2014. Although they’ve had good fortune with holdover entries from the previous regime — Warner Bros. Television’s Gotham and their studio’s breakouts Empire and The Last Man on Earth — the network appears headed for a fourth-place finish among the coveted 18-49 demographic. Among the net's challenges: Sleepy Hollow has stumbled, New Girl remains in decline and once red-hot Glee ended on a low note.
Looking ahead, this will be the first year in which the highly regarded partners and their entertainment president, David Madden, have developed and selected their own fare for the network. In a cover story with The Hollywood Reporter, all three discussed their desire to invest heavily in mass-appeal programming, with a focus on “aspirational" reality, “entertaining" big-swing dramas and "comedies with heart."
In addition to the already-greenlit X-Files reboot, the network has ordered the following:
The Frankenstein reboot hails from prolific producer Howard Gordon (Homeland, Tyrant, Legends, 24) and Rand Ravich (Crisis) and the former's 20th Century Fox Television-based Teakwood Lane banner. The drama revolves around Ray Pritchard (True Blood's Rob Kazinsky and Philip Baker Hall in a dual role), a morally corrupt retired cop, who is given a second chance at life when he is brought back from the dead. Now younger and stronger, Pritchard will have to choose between his old temptations and his new sense of purpose. White Collar's Tim DeKay co-stars in the genre play that has been actively searching for a co-showrunner to serve alongside Ravich. The Frankenstein Code is the latest series from Gordon to land at Fox. In addition to 24, which was revived last summer, he is also behind Tyrant, which airs on sister network FX.
Rosewood is a medical drama centering on the brilliant Dr. Beaumont Rosewood Jr. (Morris Chestnut), the top private pathologist in all of Miami. As the owner of one of the most sophisticated, state-of-the-art independent labs in the country, he finds the secrets in bodies that others usually miss. Despite being constantly surrounded by death, Rosewood is obsessed with life and savors every moment. His eternal optimism will frustrate the cynical female detective he often works with, but she can’t argue with the results that his unique perspective provides.
The drama, from 20th Century Fox and Temple Hill Entertainment, was among the crush of medical shows to be developed this season as broadcasters look for an heir apparent to Grey's Anatomy. (Rival NBC has already ordered two: Chicago Medical and Heartbreaker.) Rosewood also marks one of the many pilots featuring minority leads to come after a broadcast season that has seen a collection of diverse series, led by Empire, hit big with viewers. Psych's Todd Harthan penned the script and exec produces alongside Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen. Richard Shepard directed the pilot. Jaina Lee Ortiz, Maggie Elizabeth Jones and Gabrielle Dennis co-star.
Meanwhile, The Grinder brings prolific actor Lowe back to broadcast television following his run on NBC's beloved Parks and Recreation. The single-camera comedy, picked up straight-to-pilot in February, stars Lowe as a beloved TV lawyer named Dean Sanderson (aka "The Grinder"). Fred Savage (The Wonder Years) co-stars in the family comedy, which has been considered a lock through pilot season thanks to Lowe's star power and easy marketability. The series hails from writers/EPs Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel and is being produced by Nicholas Stoller and Jake Kasdan, with Lowe also earning an EP credit.
Grandfathered — starring Stamos as a version of himself — was the network's most-likely comedy to go. The series boasts a marketable star and comes as Full House nostalgia is at its peak with a Netflix revival and Lifetime TV movie both in the works. The comedy features a marketable star and hails from an established producer (Galavant, The Neighbors' Dan Fogelman and The Office's Danny Chun) and comes as multigenerational comedies (The Goldbergs, Black-ish, Modern Family) continue to perform well. Paget Brewster co-stars in the single-camera comedy from ABC Studios about a longtime bachelor whose life is upended after he learns he's a father and grandfather.
The Guide to Surviving Life (formerly Cooper Barret's Guide to Surviving Live), stars Jack Cutmore-Scott and Meaghan Rath. The comedy, which has received a six-episode order, explores the misadventures people have after college but before they settle down. The single-camera comedy from 20th Century Fox Television and Gail Berman's The Jackal Group has been considered the sleeper hit of the season and, sources say, tested through the roof. Jay Lacopo penned the script.
Additional pilot pickups are expected to come Thursday and potentially into Friday. Keep up with all the renewals, cancelations and new series orders with THR's handy Scorecard.