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