12:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Empire' Renewed for Season 5 at Fox
Fox finally got the ball rolling on its 2018-19 renewals.
The network on Wednesday handed out a fifth-season renewal for the Lee Daniels and Danny Strong drama Empire.
The hip-hop series starring Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard is Fox's first veteran drama to earn a renewal for the 2018-19 season. It joins 911, The Gifted, The Orville and The Simpsons on the network's schedule for next season.
In keeping with its recent tradition, all of the early renewals are for series produced by studio sibling 20th Century Fox Television. That means that the network will continue to own the bulk of its lineup until regulators approve Disney's $52.4 billion deal to acquire Fox assets, which includes the studio. Once the deal is cleared — which is expected to happen — all of the above shows would become Disney properties.
While not the lightning rod it once was, Empire is Fox's second-most-watched drama behind Ryan Murphy's 911 in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic (2.9 with seven days of DVR). The renewal comes as Daniels has become increasingly important to 20th TV following Ryan Murphy's upcoming move to Netflix. Daniels' overall deal with the studio expires in June, with the prolific showrunner currently in the midst of negotiating a new pact.
Empire, produced by Imagine Television's Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo, also counts Ilene Chaiken, Sanaa Hamri, Brett Mahoney and Dennis Hammer among its executive producers. This season, Chaiken stepped back as showrunner to focus on development — she has a drama starring Katie Holmes in contention at Fox — with Mahoney taking over day-to-day leadership of the series.
Still to be determined is the fate of Empire sister series Star, which is considered likely to return as part of Fox's Wednesday night block.
On the pilot side, Strong has a legal drama pilot starring Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men) and Daniels has his first comedy pilot in the Beth Behrs vehicle Culture Clash both in contention at Fox and under their respective overall deals.