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Lee Daniels is staying put at 20th Century Fox Television.
The prolific writer-director behind Fox’s Empire has renewed his overall deal with the studio, which is in the midst of a potential sale to Disney. Additionally, and unrelated to Daniels’ deal, sources say, Fox has renewed Empire off-shoot Star for a third season.
Under the new pact, Daniels will continue to create, develop and produce projects for the studio as well as executive producing Fox’s Empire. The hip-hop drama starring Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard earned an early season five renewal at the network.
Daniels also co-created and exec produces Star, also from 20th TV, which has been averaging a 1.9 rating among advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 and helped turn Empire into a larger franchise for the network and studio. Season two, which officially crossed over with Empire, saw Karin Gist take over as the drama’s third showrunner. She will return for season three of the series starring Queen Latifah and Benjamin Bratt.
This season, Daniels has his first comedy pilot in contention at Fox with the single-camera entry Our Family, starring Beth Behrs, Lea Thompson and Chris Parnell. Daniels exec produces the family comedy from Modern Family‘s Vali Chandrasekaran.
“Lee is not just an extraordinary writer and director; he’s a talent magnet who’s full of creative energy,” Fox TV Group chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman said Thursday in a statement. “He’s also one of the most entertaining and authentic voices we’ve ever encountered. From Empire to Star, when you work with Lee on a project, you know you’re going to be spellbound not just by the idea, but also by how it’s filtered through his unique lens. He’s a creator with many more stories to tell, and we’re grateful he’ll be telling them with us.”
Daniels’ decision to renew his deal should be seen as a win for 20th TV given the studio’s pending sale to Disney as part of its $52.4 billion Fox deal and in a climate where prolific writers, producers and showrunners are being heavily pursued by Netflix. The studio’s top producer, Ryan Murphy, recently signed a $300 million deal with Netflix.
“I’ve loved the creative freedom Fox has afforded me over the last several years and proud of the work that we’ve collectively achieved as a result of it,” Daniels said. “I’m excited to continue my time at the studio and produce television that isn’t only personal to my own stories, but also find undiscovered, diverse, new voices to bring to the small screen.”
Daniels joins a roster of showrunners who have renewed their 20th TV deals, including Chandrasekaran, Abraham Higginbotham, Sanaa Hamri, Tim Minear, Kurt Sutter, Rich Appel and Danielle Sanchez-Witzel.
Daniels, who co-created Empire and Star alongside Danny Strong, also counts the features Precious and The Butler among his credits. He is repped by CAA and attorney Jeanne Newman.
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