Fox’s ‘Star’: A lot like ‘Empire,’ but with singers
You can't blame the network for copycatting its most successful series
December 13, 2016
One in a series of Media Life previews of the new shows debuting this midseason. You can find past previews here.
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Star (Jude Demorest) grew up in foster homes but dreamed of superstardom as a singer. Together with her long-lost half-sister, Simone (Brittany O’Grady), and best friend, Alexandra (Ryan Destiny), Star heads to Atlanta to pursue her dream.
There the trio meets up with Carlotta (Queen Latifah), who helps them navigate life, and talent agent Jahil (Benjamin Bratt), who has his eye on Star, and not just for her talent.
Turns out achieving super-stardom isn’t as easy as the women had hoped. Shocker.
The series was co-created by Lee Daniels, the man behind “Empire.”
It’s too lofty to say Fox thinks “Star” could be the next “Empire.”
But the network certainly has high hopes for this similarly themed drama, which shares a number of things in common with Daniels’ smash hit.
It’s about the music industry (singers instead of rappers). It includes original songs. And it features a diverse cast, which has been a hallmark of several of the most successful new shows of the past three seasons (“Empire,” “black-ish,” “How to Get Away With Murder”).
For years, broadcast offered very little diversity in primetime, so it’s little wonder that African-American and Hispanic viewers would be eager to support shows that finally depict people who look like them.
And Fox believes in the show (or Daniels) enough to give it a special lead-in. It’s premiering after the fall finale of “Empire,” broadcast’s top drama in adults 18-49.
While the show’s ratings have been on the decline this fall, it should still give “Star” a boost before it settles into its regular slot behind “Lethal Weapon” on Wednesday nights next month.
What media people say
Buyers say “Star” has some promise.
They like the idea of pairing it with “Empire” for a special debut. They say the two programs should have great audience flow.
But these days it’s difficult to predict with any degree of certainty that a show will succeed. Buyers also liked Fox’s “Pitch,” which struggled in an abbreviated run this fall.
And “Star” won’t be airing behind “Empire” for long. Unless the show can maintain that program’s dazzling blend of good acting, outrageous plotlines and creative writing, “Star” will struggle.
What critics say
“The three episodes I’ve seen are, like Star herself, a little rough, with a tangle of plotlines and some clunky dialogue. But there is plenty to care about, even if I’m not convinced this girl group has what it takes.” – Ellen Gray, Philadelphia Inquirer
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