In pri­or­i­tiz­ing ‘Em­pire,’ Fox’s ‘Star’ never gained mo­men­tum

The Morning Call - - GO GUIDE - By Rich Heldenfels

Q: Why was the show “Star” can­celed so abruptly af­ter only three seasons?

A: The Fox show’s demise demon­strates the com­plex­ity of re­newal and can­cel­la­tion de­ci­sions, which in this case also in­volved “Em­pire” as it heads into its fi­nal sea­son.

As Dead­ re­ported it, “Em­pire” had aired at 9 p.m. East­ern but was moved to 8 p.m. to make room for “Star.” But for the fi­nal sea­son of “Em­pire,” Fox de­cided to put “Em­pire” back at 9 p.m.

Said one ex­ec­u­tive: “We looked at our pri­or­i­ties and were try­ing to pri­or­i­tize giv­ing ‘Em­pire’ the send-off it deserves. The move to 9 p.m. made it a chal­lenge be­cause ‘Star’ was al­ways the lead-out from ‘Em­pire’ and ob­vi­ously we don’t have the 10 p.m. hour.”

In ad­di­tion, Dead­line noted, while “Star” had good rat­ings, there were signs of de­cline. The show was ex­pen­sive, and over­seas sales had been “chal­leng­ing.” And since Fox’s de­ci­sion, at­tempts to sell the show else­where did not work out.

Many TV view­ers think three seasons is a short run, but many shows don’t even get past a first sea­son.

Q: I re­cently en­joyed watch­ing the se­ries “City on a Hill” on Show­time with Kevin Ba­con. On the fi­nal episode, they seemed to tie things up. Are there go­ing to be any new episodes?

A: Although the first sea­son of the drama, which also starred Aldis Hodge, wrapped up a ma­jor story, there is enough left to be said for the show to get re­newed for a se­cond sea­son. In a state­ment re­ported by TVLine, Show­time Pres­i­dent Gary Levine said, “‘City on a Hill’ is that ad­dic­tive kind of meaty and messy show we love at Show­time. With the in­spired pairing of Kevin Ba­con and Aldis Hodge and the in­spired writ­ing of Tom Fon­tana and Chuck MacLean, we be­lieve there is a rich fu­ture for this com­pelling se­ries.”

Q: What was the very first West­ern se­ries on tele­vi­sion? I say it was “Ac­tion in the Af­ter­noon,” which broad­cast live from Philadel­phia from about mid-1953 to mid-1955.

A: “Ac­tion in the Af­ter­noon” is an in­trigu­ing bit of TV his­tory, though not what you claim it to be. The se­ries was the only com­pletely live, out­door West­ern ever on net­work tele­vi­sion. (An on­line his­tory of the show says there were other live Westerns, but they used film in parts of their pro­duc­tions while “Ac­tion” was all live.) It was made in Philadel­phia, though its sto­ries were set in a Mon­tana town, and it aired week­days from Fe­bru­ary 1953 to Jan­uary 1954.

How­ever, it was not the first TV West­ern. That honor is gen­er­ally given to “Hopa­long Cas­sidy.” Wil­liam Boyd had his West­ern movies edited into TV episodes for tele­cast be­gin­ning in the late ’40s, with their net­work de­but in 1949; new made-for-TV ad­ven­tures were later in­cluded. Other Westerns pre­dat­ing “Ac­tion” include “The Lone Ranger,” “The Gene Autry Show,” “An­nie Oak­ley,” “Death Val­ley Days” and “The Roy Rogers Show.”

Q: Is there a con­nec­tion be­tween the de­ceased ac­tor Cameron Mitchell and the “Mod­ern Fam­ily” char­ac­ters Cameron and Mitchell?

A: There has been am­ple spec­u­la­tion about a con­nec­tion be­tween the TV com­edy, which be­gins its fi­nal sea­son on Sept. 25, and the vet­eran ac­tor (“My Fa­vorite Year,” “The High Cha­parral”). I’ve not seen any con­fir­ma­tion of that, nor did ABC an­swer my in­quiry about it. But there are other Cameron Mitchells, in­clud­ing the ac­tor-writer-di­rec­tor John Cameron Mitchell. If I had to guess, I’d tie “Mod­ern Fam­ily” to John Cameron Mitchell, maker of “Hed­wig and the Angry Inch” and “Short­bus,” and some­times seen on “The Good Fight” as provo­ca­teur Felix Sta­ples.

Write to Rich Heldenfels, P.O. Box 417, Mo­gadore, OH 44260, or bren­[email protected]


Jude De­mor­est, from left, Ryan Destiny and Brittany O’Grady on “Star,” which won’t be com­ing back to Fox.

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