Fox Moves Empire to Fall, Announces Final Season of American Idol

Eagerly-awaited X-Files revival coming in January

There is a new Empire at Fox—in more ways than one.

Ahead of their first upfront Monday afternoon as Fox Television Group chairmen and CEOs, Dana Walden and Gary Newman announced a 2015-16 lineup with one big expected move—Empire is moving from midseason to anchor the fall lineup—and one stunner: former blockbuster American Idol will end its run next year.

"Our strategy with these bold creative swings is simple: schedule them strategically, market them relentlessly and create events that break through and captivate viewers across every platform," said Walden and Newman.

Fox tumbled to fourth place in adults 18-49 this season, and as Walden and Newman struggled to rebuild the network, they found the biggest building block imaginable in Empire, which was the success story of 2014-15, with ratings increases every in single week.

So it comes as no surprise that the network isn't waiting until midseason to deploy Empire, and instead will debut it in the fall in its Wednesday 9 p.m. time slot. Leading into Empire will be new drama Rosewood, about a Miami pathologist played by Morris Chestnut. Empire's new season will be 18 episodes (split in half between fall and spring), up from 12 episodes in Season 1; Walden and Newman have been debating the episode count for months.

Empire quickly displaced the fading American Idol this season as Fox's top show. Now that once-mightly Idol has fallen to earth—it regularly loses to time slot competitor Survivor in total viewers and adults 18-49—the network is pulling the plug on the music competition series after its 15th season. After consulting with the show's producers, "it just felt it was the right time to bring the run to a close," said Newman, adding that the show will end with "a true, season-long celebration."

Judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr., along with host Ryan Seacrest, will return for the final season, which will also pay tribute to the previous 14 years of Idol. (What could replace Idol in 2017? Walden and Newman have been talking with original Idol judge Simon Cowell about developing a new series for the network.)

Freshman hit Gotham will return Mondays at 8 p.m., followed by Minority Report, a drama based on the 2002 Tom Cruise/Steven Spielberg film.

Tuesdays are all-new for Fox. New comedies Grandfathered (lifelong bachelor John Stamos discovers he's both a father and a grandfather) and The Grinder (after playing a TV lawyer, Rob Lowe returns to his hometown to help out at his family's real-life firm) lead in to Ryan Murphy's anthology horror series Scream Queens, which the network has already been promoting heavily all spring.

Bones remains in its usual 8 p.m. Thursday time slot, and Fox has moved Sleepy Hollow—the 2013 hit that dropped 40 percent this season in adults 18-49—from Mondays to Thursdays at 9, which is always one of its toughest slots to gain traction.

Fridays kick off with the transplanted MasterChef Junior, leading into World's Funniest. Saturdays will be college football, with the Sunday lineup remaining intact: NFL football leading into Bob's Burgers, The Simpsons (which has been renewed for two years), Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Family Guy and The Last Man on Earth.

Held for midseason are New Girl—in part to accommodate star Zooey Deschanel's pregnancy, it will return to Tuesdays at 9 midseason, running 22 episodes almost consecutively—and the most-anticipated series on next year's lineup: the six-episode return of The X-Files, reuniting David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Fox will debut that on Sunday, Jan. 24, following the NFC Championship Game, before moving to Mondays at 8 beginning the next day.

X-Files creator Chris Carter will produce a mix of mythology and standalone episodes for the show's limited series run. "I think everyone will be happy with what he's got planned," said Walden.

New midseason series include dramas Lucifer (the fallen angel punishes bad guys in L.A.), which Fox has slated for Mondays at 9 following The X-Files, and The Frankenstein Code (a corrupt retired cop who is brought back from the dead and gets a chance to change his ways), and comedies The Guide to Surviving Life (post-college struggles) and the animated series Bordertown (two families leaving in a desert town on the U.S./Mexico border).

Fox also finally announced an airdate for its long-in-the-works Grease: Live, starring Julianne Hough as Sandy and Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo. The three-hour event will air Sunday, Jan. 31.

"We know this is just the beginning, and we have a lot of work to do, but we feel energized" by Fox's new slate, said Newman.

FOX FALL 2015-16 SCHEDULE (New programs in ALL CAPS)

MONDAY