The Fox network made its bones more than 30 years ago by putting on bold, edgy programs that targeted a young audience.
But the face of the “new Fox” is 64-year-old TV and movie star Tim Allen.
The network’s schedule, announced Monday, is its first since parent company 21st Century Fox announced that it would sell its TV and movie production assets to the Walt Disney Co. If the deal goes through, the Fox network will be more dependent on sports, news and live-event programming.
Allen’s last sitcom, “Last Man Standing,” which ran for six seasons on ABC but was dropped last year, is returning on Fox this fall, a head-turning choice in the 2018-19 TV schedule. The series is owned by 21st Century Fox’s TV studio, which has successfully sold the show to broadcast and cable channels.
But the multi-camera family comedy series is a break from the quirkier single-camera comedies and daring animated fare the Fox network has been known to favor over the years.
When Allen’s program, in which he plays a sporting-goods retail executive and father of three daughters who sneers at political correctness, was canceled last year, conservative pundits claimed it was done in by Hollywood liberals who disagreed with star’s own right-leaning political views.
“Last Man Standing” was actually dropped by ABC because the network was losing money on the show. The network was unable to sell ads on the program at a high enough rate to cover the cost of the license fee paid to Fox’s TV studio.
Fox Television Group co-chairs Dana Walden and Gary Newman said during a conference call Monday that the network wanted to pick up the program last year but did not have an appropriate spot on the schedule for it. This year, the network will put the show on Friday, when executives believe it will benefit from promotion on “NFL Thursday Night Football,” which moves to Fox this fall.
Walden said ABC’s recent success with the revived “Roseanne” was a reminder that in Allen, Fox has a “huge comedy star” in its fold who also has the potential to appeal to a broad audience.
She said “Last Man Standing,” which averaged around 8.5 million viewers in its last season on ABC, was never heavily promoted on that network.
“We always wondered how it would do if it was prioritized more,” she said.
Newman said ABC’s cancellation was not related to politics. He said it had more to do with ABC not owning the program. He also said Allen’s character, Mike Baxter, is a political centrist and that the show’s stories are not a partisan platform.
“I don’t think the show delves into it very deeply,” Newman said. “It doesn’t feel like a soap box for any point of view.”
“Last Man Standing” will be followed on Fridays by a new comedy, “The Cool Kids,” which stars comedy veterans Martin Mull, David Allen Grier, Vicki Lawrence and Leslie Jordan as residents of a retirement community. The series is executive produced by “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star Charlie Day.
The comedies will be paired ahead of the returning reality series “Hell’s Kitchen” with Gordon Ramsay.
As for the rest of the Fox lineup, medical drama “The Resident” returns Monday at 8 p.m., followed by “9-1-1” at 9.
“The Gifted” is back on Tuesday at 8 p.m., with “Lethal Weapon,” returning at 9. The buddy cop drama will have a new costar in Seann William Scott, who is replacing Clayne Crawford.
Wednesday will pair music-oriented dramas “Empire” at 8 p.m. and “Star” at 9.
Fox will start the fall with “Thursday Night Football,” which last year was split between CBS and NBC. Following the season, Seth MacFarlane’s sci-fi send-up “The Orville” will return for a second season on that night.
Fox plans to air a variety of sports events on Saturday nights.
On Sunday, the network’s signature night of animated comedy, “The Simpsons” will open at 8 p.m., followed by “Bob’s Burgers,” and “Family Guy.” At 9:30, Fox will launch a new live-action sitcom, “The Rel,” which stars Lil Rel Howery as a man adjusting to life as a newly single dad living on Chicago’s West Side after finding out his wife has had an affair with his barber.
For midseason, Fox has ordered “The Passage,” a drama about a 10-year-old girl who is a test subject at a secret government facility experimenting with a virus that could be a cure for all disease or doom the human race. John-Paul Gosselaar plays the federal agent who looks out for her. The series is based on a series of books by Justin Cronin.
Fox has also ordered a new drama series, “Proven Innocent,” which stars Rachelle Lefevre as a lawyer who leads an underdog criminal defense firm.
And the network has picked up a fifth season of the Batman prequel drama “Gotham” and a new edition of “Cosmos,” its science exploration series produced by MacFarlane and hosted by astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
Shows canceled by Fox are “The Last Man on Earth,” “New Girl,” “The Mick,” “Lucifer” and “The Exorcist.” The sitcom “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is moving to NBC, which owns the show. No decision has been made on new-season pickups for “L.A. to Vegas” and “Ghosted.”