'Empire' Building: Fox Orders Musical Drama Pilot From Lee Daniels

'Star' Will Be Set In Cutthroat World Of Atlanta Music Scene

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A scene from 'Empire'
A scene from 'Empire' Credit: Fox

Fox is looking to revive its flagging fortunes with a new musical drama from "Empire" Co-Creator and Executive Producer Lee Daniels.

The network on Thursday announced that it has ordered a pilot about a trio of young Atlanta women hoping to make a name for themselves in the music business. The one-hour "Star" pilot will be written, directed and executive produced by Mr. Daniels, whose hip-hop saga "Empire" gave Fox its biggest scripted success in a decade and turned the broadcast business on its ear.

The sudsy "Empire" was a flat-out phenomenon, boasting unprecedented week-on-week growth over the course of its first season. Building on its overall viewership in each of the 11 episodes that followed its Jan. 7 series premiere, "Empire" became the first TV series to manage that feat in the "people meter" era. (Nielsen rolled out the newfangled measurement devices back in 1991.)

While advertisers were enthralled with "Empire's" reach (per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the show averaged a 5.1 rating in the adults 18-to-49 demographic, making it last season's top-rated scripted broadcast series), they were even more star struck when the final currency data was released. Upon application of the C3 streams, which measure average commercial minutes in three days of playback, "Empire" jumped to a staggering 5.9 rating in that dollar demo.

"Empire" was a rare triumph in a season of sour notes. The decline of "American Idol" and the ongoing erosion of gross rating points for tentpole series such as "New Girl" and "Sleepy Hollow" contributed to a rough year for Fox. It finished last among the Big Four broadcasters with a 1.9 average prime-time rating, which marked a 21% decline from the 2013-14 season.

While details about "Star" were understandably scant, Fox said the pilot will "showcase the allure and heartache of the cutthroat music scene, while also exploring cultural themes from a new perspective." Fox acknowledged that while there is potential for an eventual "Empire"-"Star" crossover, it's rather early in the development process to explore that possibility.

The "Star" order marks Mr. Daniels' first project in his multi-year deal with 20th Century Fox Television. Casting for the pilot will begin shortly.

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