EXCLUSIVE: Fox’s 2023-2024 schedule will not include the network’s two highest-rated drama series of 2022-23.
The move of flagship 9-1-1 to ABC was announced in May. Now its spinoff, 9-1-1: Lone Star, which was renewed for a fifth season by Fox in May, will not return with new episodes this spring. Instead, the drama starring Rob Lowe will produce 12 episodes to air in fall 2024, making fans’ wait for Season 5 extra long.
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Like any other linear or streaming series, 9-1-1: Lone Star has been impacted by the double Hollywood strikes. Earlier this fall, Fox and producing studio 20th Television had been discussing an 18-episode order — six episodes for midseason — and 12 for fall, sources said. As the SAG-AFTRA strike stretched into November, those plans changed, and the two sides ultimately agreed on 12 episodes for fall 2024.
Fox needs 9-1-1: Lone Star next fall. Like other broadcast networks, Fox is delaying its new 2023-24 scripted series — dramas Doc and Rescue: Hi-Surf — to 2024-25, aiming at a fall/January launch when the network has NFL and MLB coverage as promotional platforms. As Fox’s most established, longest-running and highest-rated remaining drama, 9-1-1: Lone Star is expected to be used as a lead-in to help get both series off the ground.
Still, Fox had been counting on having 9-1-1: Lone Star originals this midseason too.
In early September, the network tweaked its fall schedule, pushing unscripted competition series I Can See Your Voice to accomodate repeats of 9-1-1: Lone Star in order to keep the show in circulation and use reruns as warm-ups for the series’ return once the dual strikes were over.
Like the mothership 9-1-1 series, Lone Star is a big-scope, big-budget drama requiring extensive pre-production and post-production time, including substantial VFX work. The November end of the strike-related production shutdown largely ruled out a meaningful 10- to 13-episode season to fit within the confines of the 2023-24 broadcast season due to time and financial constraints.
It is unclear how exactly Fox and 20th TV reached the agreement to do 12 episodes for next fall. As a broadcast series in Season 5, 9-1-1: Lone Star is deficit financed by 20th Television, with Fox, which doesn’t have ownership, paying a flat license fee. That means that the Disney-owned studio is covering “deficits” in making the show, likely running in the seven figures per episode given Lone Star‘s caliber.
All media companies have been watching their spending closely amid increased financial scrutiny as they recalibrate their linear and streaming strategies.
Last season, 9-1-1: Lone Star was Fox’s second highest-rated and most watched drama behind the mothership first responder series. Produced by 20th Television in association with Ryan Murphy Television and Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision, 9-1-1: Lone Star gives a look into the lives of the police, fire and ambulance departments of Company 126 in Austin.
The series stars Lowe, Gina Torres, Ronen Rubinstein, Sierra McClain, Jim Parrack, Natacha Karam, Brian Michael Smith, Rafael Silva, Julian Works and Brianna Baker as well as Kelsey and Skyler Yates.
Murphy, Falchuk and Tim Minear are creators, executive producers and writers. Bradley Buecker is an executive producer and directed the series premiere. Alexis Martin Woodall, Rashad Raisani, John J. Gray, Angela Bassett, Lowe, Kelly Souders & Brian Peterson and Bob Goodman also are executive producers.
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