Throwback Friday at TCA: Fox revives ‘Prison Break’ and orders a pilot for another ‘24’
Fox is attempting to prove that you can go home again -- and again, and again.
Fox Television Group Co-Chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman announced Friday that they have ordered a pilot for a new version of the long-running terrorism-fighting thriller “24” (without Kiefer Sutherland’s iconic character Jack Bauer) and are returning the 2005 drama “Prison Break” as a limited series.
The two revivals follow the return of the network’s sci-fi classic “The X-Files,” which is coming back as a six-episode series on Jan. 24.
And there could be more new bottles of old wine shipping soon from 20th Century Fox Television, which is under the watch of Walden and Newman as well.
“We have great timeless intellectual property in our libraries and we wouldn’t be opposed to other ideas,” Newman told reporters after the executives held a session at the Television Critics Assn. gathering in Pasadena.
Bringing back well-known franchises has been a staple in the movie business for decades. Familiar titles go a long way in breaking through to consumers in a crowded marketplace.
The approach has delivered less success in the television business, likely because once a hit TV show ends its run, it fades from the pop culture landscape, unless it’s a timeless sitcom, such as “Seinfeld” or “Friends.”
But streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu have helped revive interest in old shows. (Netflix itself will be the home of “Fuller House,” a new, updated version of the 1990s sitcom “Full House.”)
“We live in a different world now where it’s easier for these shows to stay in the public’s mind because of services like Netflix and Hulu,” said Newman. “Keeping that fan base alive, you’re get a better sense of what they’re hungry for.”
While the streaming service tends to be tight with information on how shows perform, Netflix executives told Newman and Walden that past episodes of “Prison Break” were popular enough with the service’s subscribers that Fox should consider making more of them.
“We’ve been talking about ’24’ and ‘Prison Break’ for a number of years,” Newman said. “Those shows in particular somehow continue to resonate with our audiences in a really significant way. Similarly with ‘X-Files’ -- people talked about a reunion series.”
Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell will reprise their roles as brothers Michael Scofield and Lincoln Burrows in the new “Prison Break.” The original, centered on Scofield’s elaborate escape plan for his convicted brother who is on death row, ran for four seasons.
Newman said the network and studio are also interested in doing more “X-Files” episodes if stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson and series creator Chris Carter can work them into their schedules.
The new version of “24,” called “24: Legacy” will have a much different look than the last iteration that aired as a limited series in 2014 (the series first premiered in 2001). It will revolve around a military hero who has returned to the United States and is seeking the help of a counterintelligence unit to save his life and stop a large-scale terror attack.
“It’s a whole new story,” said Walden. “There are nods in the pilot to prior [counterterrorism unit] agents. There are a couple photos that will feel reminiscent of the original, but no ongoing characters.”
Fox has yet to put out an offer to the lead actor for the new version, Walden said.
Newman and Walden also announced that they have renewed the freshman series “Scream Queens” for a second season and, hardly a surprise, have picked up their biggest hit, “Empire,” for a third season.
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