LA Screenings 2014: Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution Slate – What’s Hot & What’s Not

LA Screenings 2014 (FT)

TVWise continues our LA Screenings coverage with a look at the series Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution are distributing internationally and which ones have buyers talking.

Following our coverage of the slate of new shows offered by CBS Studios International and Disney Media Distribution, we turn our attention to Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution. The distribution arm of Fox handles global sales for 20th Century Fox Television and cable division Fox 21 – who are producing new USA Network series USA Rush and Complications. So which of their shows are playing well? TVWise presents our run down of which shows are hot and those which, frankly, are not.

Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution’s slate, while smaller than in recent years, was still pretty strong. They were shopping new drama Empire & Backstrom; and while a recent deal meant Fox International Channels are distribution Wayward Pines rather than Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, their drama line up still impressed. On the comedy side, the studio was also shopping new ABC entries Cristela and Fresh Off The Boat. In addition to those listed below Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution are also distributing new animated series Bordertown, comedy Weird Loners.


CristelaPenned by Cristela Alonzo and Kevin Hench, Cristela follows the eponymous character who, in her sixth year of law school, is finally on the brink of landing her first big internship at a prestigious law firm. The only problem is that her pursuit of success is more ambitious than her traditional Mexican-American family thinks is appropriate. The comedy is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and stars Cristela Alonzo, Terri Hoyos, Carlos Ponce and Andrew Leeds. The executive producers are Hench, Marty Adelstein, Becky Clements and Shawn Levy.

Comedy tends to tack a back seat to drama at the screenings and the same is true with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution’s comedy offerings. That said, those who were talking about Cristela have called it “funny” and “warm”. The buzz is soft on this one. There could be a multitude of reasons for that. Possibly the so-called “immigrant comedy” is putting buyers off, as could the Friday night slot on ABC, in which only Last Man Standing has been able to survive.

Fresh Off The Boat

Fresh Off The BoatFresh Off The Boat is a single camera comedy set in the 90s that tells the story hip-hop-loving Eddie, who is growing up in suburban Orlando, raised by an immigrant father who is obsessed with all things American and an immigrant mother who often is bewildered by white culture. The comedy hails from Nahnatchka Kahn & 20th Century Fox Television and stars Hudson Yang, Constance Wu, Randall Park, Forrest Wheeler and Ian Chen. Nahnatchka Kahn and Jake Kasdan serve as executive producers.

Though this one is another “immigrant comedy”, it has more buyers talking than Cristela does. It’s safe to say that this is the hottest comedy Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution has this year (though a couple of buyers were pretty eager about Weird Loners). Constance Wu’s performance has been highlighted as a “treat”. The buzz is stronger on this than any other comedy and as such it should do well.


BackstromFrom Bones creator Hart Hanson, Backstrom is a subversive and comic crime procedural about Detective Lieutenant Everett Backstrom, an unhealthy, offensive, irascible – albeit brilliant – detective who is brought back from exile to run the Portland Police Bureau’s Special Crimes Unit (SCU). The drama series is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Far Field Productions and stars Rainn Wilson, Genevieve Angelson, Dennis Haysbert, Page Kennedy, Kristoffer Polaha, Beatrice Rosen and Thomas Dekker.

The drama side at Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution is pretty competitive this year, with solid interest in all three. Backstrom played well with buyers, one of whom described it as “House crossed with your typical crime procedural.” The performances of Dennis Haysbert and Rainn Wilson, both well known internationally, have been called “great”. Expect strong sales on Backstrom.


EmpireEmpire, which hails from The Butler’s Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, is described as  a family drama set in the world of a hip-hop empire. The script was written by Strong and Daniels, who also directed the pilot. The drama is produced by 20th Century Fox Television in association with Imagine Television and stars Terrence Howard (Law & Order: Los Angeles), Taraji P. Henson (Person Of Interest), Malik Yoba (Alphas), Kaitlin Doubleday, Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley, Grace Gealey, Bryshere Y. Gray, Jussie Smollet, Trai Byers and Gabourey Sidibe.

This is another one generating keen interest. Empire had soft buzz going in – some were immediately excited about the auspices and strong cast, while others were concerned about whether or not a show set in the “hip-hop world” could work globally. After the screenings those concerns have gone, though. One buyer who was concerned that they would be looking at another Smash came out impressed, calling it a “strong family drama that just happens to be set in that world”.


HieroglyphCreated by Travis Beacham, Hierpglyph is set in ancient Egypt, where fantasy and reality intertwine. The series follows a notorious thief who is plucked from prison to serve the Pharoah, navigating palace intrigue, seductive concubines, criminal underbellies and even a few divine sorcerers. The series is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Chernin Entertainment and stars Max Brown, Caroline Ford, Reece Ritchie, Condola Rashad, Kelsey Chow, Antony Bunsee and John Rhys-Davies.

This was the dark horse on the drama side. This one had very few talking before this week. There was a concern about a period drama set in ancient Egypt, with few thinking it would work. But now after the screenings? It’s not quite as hot as say Backstrom or Empire, but Hieroglyph did exceed expectations, with John Rhys-Davies’ performance having been highlighted. Its’ been called “fantastic” with one buyer comparing it to Da Vinci’s Demons.

The Last Man On Earth

The Last Man On Earth Created by and starring Will Forte, The Last Man On Earth tells the story of a man who winds up being the last human on Earth. The comedy series is being produced by 20th Century Fox Television with Forte, Phil Lord, Chris Miller and Seth Cohen serving as executive producers. Lord and Miller are also attached to direct the pilot episode.

As noted above, comedy has been taking something of a back-seat to drama this year. The buzz on The Last Man On Earth is soft. One source was particularly critical, stating that they couldn’t see “where it is going.” The series doesn’t debut until mid-season, so there is time for The Last Man On Earth to gain momentum, but for now I wouldn’t be expecting a great many international sales.