In a testament to the viability of Chicago as a location for several Fox series, network executive Gary Owen discussed possibly building a home on Chicago’s lakefront.
Fox TV is putting their all behind the season three premiere of Empire . Last night they went all out to produce a lively fete hosted at the Soho House just outside of downtown Chicago. This sort of sponsored promo of a show is usually reserved for the Hollywood or the New York City set, but the network held the event in Chicago because apparently the Windy City is offering a stroke of good luck for the network.
“We produce 40 series in the studio and you can’t become friendly or get to know every single cast member, but this show is one of the rare exceptions where the relationships between the executives and the cast turn into genuine friendships,” Gary Newman, chairman and CEO Fox Television Group, told the intimate crowd, which also included fellow Fox executive Dana Walden, who first joined the FORBES Power List in 2014. “We love it here so much we are producing two other series here and if either of them work like Empire [then we] might be building houses on the lakefront …”
Empire was initially a runaway hit for the network, in 2015 becoming the series with the highest viewedseason finale – earning some 21 million viewers – in nearly a decade of TV. Season two saw a bit of a dip in ratings as viewers complained of overly dramatic plot twists. EW reported star Jussie Smollet affirming the situation as the “sophomore slump.” In part, Smollett told EW: ““I think that because we have season 1 to compare it to, that was so phenomenal that it was hard. So I think that we definitely had kind of the sophomore slump.”
Empire averaged 16.2 million viewers per episode that second season, but that was slightly down from the 16.7 million average viewers/pop culture phenom status of the first season. Season three has something to prove. Plus, it’s very telling that, for season 3, Fox rolled out all of their top level executives for a private Chicago event as opposed to an event in New York or Los Angeles. If what Newman is saying about the other series pans out to be true, perhaps the network and Chicago are poised to create another TV juggernaut.
Of the party, the evening started out with a red carpet stroll by many of the stars – including some extras who give away where the storylines might be headed. Xzibit, still celebrating a recent birthday, walked the line. Morocco Omari, who plays law enforcement agent Tariq, and other newer cast members including Sierra McClain, who portrays new singing sensation Nessa, discussed what they could of the intriguing storylines. Of his character’s story arc, all Omari would say is that no one would like him much this season.
Whodunits aside, the party moved from the city’s Harris HRS +0.08% Theater, where VIP guests munched on Garrett’s Popcorn, and moved to Soho’s rooftop deck where Biz Markie – who also guest stars on the show – deejayed an entire set by the outdoor pool. Markie rapped live to “Just a Friend.” Meanwhile guests munched on a cornucopia of various treats and eats: lobster rolls, Chicago style hot dogs, chicken and waffles, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, seared steak with chimichurri sauce, fried broccoli, kale salad and salmon amongst other items. Moet was the champagne of choice.
Celebrity sightings included Trai Byers, Romeo Miller, Taye Diggs, Phylicia Rashad and Vivica Fox.