In June, Lee Daniels entered into a multi-year deal with 20th Century Fox Television that would see him develop, write, direct and supervise new projects for the studio under his Lee Daniels Entertainment banner, while still remaining as an executive producer of “Empire.”
As announced 2 months later, in August, the first project to be developed under the new agreement, titled “Star,” will be set in Atlanta, and will follow 3 young women who are working to make names for themselves in the music business.
The proposed one-hour pilot will be written, directed and executive produced by Daniels, although details on story and characters were scant at the time of the original announcement, except for Fox sharing that the pilot will “showcase the allure and heartache of the cutthroat music scene, while also exploring cultural themes from a new perspective.”
Skip ahead to today to a press release from Fox announcing the launch of an international casting search for the proposed new series’ four roles.
Per Fox, here are the 4 leads for which actors are being sought:
– Star, an 18-year-old white woman with a “badass attitude.”
– Alexandra, a black woman around the age of 20. Though she’s described as “elegant” and “classic,” she wants to abandon her “material world” in the hopes of making “real, authentic music.”
– Simone, 16, is Star’s half-white, half-black sister who is “tragic and adorable.”
– Cotton, 20, a half-black, half-Spanish transgender woman with a “stunning look” and a “keen eye for fashion.”
I should mention that, over the summer, Fox did acknowledged that there might be potential for an eventual “Empire”/”Star” crossover (of course), but emphasized that it was too early to definitely confirm anything. Although, given that both shows are music business centered, as well as the immense success of “Empire,” it would make sense.
Clearly Fox is hoping to replicate “Empire’s” success with “Star” – both having one key thing in common: Lee Daniels’ stamp.
Although I’ll say that, if it’s just another version of “Empire,” in terms of how sudsy and gaudy it is, but with a different cast, it actually may prove to be to Fox’s detriment. Excess – as in too much of the same kind of thing – can be a drag.
Keep in mind that Daniels has also said that a Cookie Lyon spin-off (which will focus on the character’s much younger days) is very likely, so I have to wonder if maybe this “Star” project just might be the Cookie spin-off. If not, Lee Daniels could become to Fox what Shonda Rhimes currently is to ABC. “Empire” aside, Fox’s other new (last this season and last) series aren’t exactly catching fire: “Minority Report” hit a series low of 1.89 viewers for last night’s episode; “Gotham” is hanging in there, but for a broadcast network show competing with ABC, CBS and NBC offerings, it’s woefully under-performing; “Scream Queens” isn’t doing that much better than “Minority Report;” “Sleepy Hollow” lost a significant percentage of its audience after last season, and has been in a gradual ratings decline since episode 1 of this season. “Rosewood” is the lone standout, although the fact that it serves as a lead-in to “Empire” on Wednesday nights might have something to do with its success.
So if Daniels’ has a formula that’s working for them, it makes sense that they’d milk it.