10 Things Learned From Fox’s Upfront Event

Upfronts 2015: John Stamos’ “Grandfathered” supposedly tested “off the charts”; “Empire” unveils first three Season 2 guest stars

Last Updated: May 12, 2015 @ 6:57 AM

Fox has a great party set up for Monday night, but media buyers and reporters had to sit through its upfront presentation first.

That’s not to say it was a snooze — the event boasted a “Scream Queens” stunt and a lively three-song performance by the “Empire” cast. And it wasn’t all flash either — there was news on “Empire” Season 2 guest stars, the “American Idol” judging table and even new “Gotham” villains.

Therefore, those of us in attendance were entertained and informed — now it’s our turn to do at least the latter for readers. Below are 10 things we learned from Fox’s 2015 upfront event.

1. Fox Is Definitely All-in on “Scream Queens”
Fox’s upfront kicked off with a stunt outside of the Beacon Theatre promoting new Ryan Murphy series “Scream Queens.” It featured a bunch of co-eds in poodle skirts with knives in their sweater-covered backs, handing out free ice cream. The treat was much appreciated on the humid streets of New York City.

Later, during the actual program, the entire, sizable crowd of “Scream Queens” hit the stage with Murphy, who promised that one of them was the killer.

2. Rob Lowe‘s Fox Comedic Stylings Don’t Start and Stop With “The Grinder”
Rob Lowe lent a hand and chiseled face to Fox Networks Ad Sales President Toby Byrne through a funny online viability standards promo early in Monday’s presentation. After pitching the audience on the virtues of a reverse mortgage — a funny faux misunderstanding — Lowe claimed to be the creator of “Empire,” which he said is loosely based on his life.

He also swore that as a young actor growing up in Tinsel Town, he always hoped to be the voice of online viability standards. The star of “The Grinder” has finally realized his dream.

3. “Empire” Makes Everyone Take a Cell Phone Video
Yes, the cast of “Empire” performed. Yes, it was very good.

First up, Bryshere Gray a.k.a. Yazz the Greatest and Jussie Smollett did “No Apologies.” To frenzy the crowd further, next, Jennifer Hudson joined the duo on “Whatever Makes You Happy.” Finally, Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson got in on the fun for “You’re so Beautiful,” which brought the house down. Well, as much as one can bring down a house of media buyers and reporters on a Monday afternoon.

Seemingly everyone in the crowd promptly whipped out their iPhones for amateur footage.

4. … And it has Guest Stars for Season 2 Already!

Chris Rock, Alicia Keys and Lenny Kravitz are set to guest on “Empire” Season 2, Fox executives revealed on Monday. There will definitely be more to come, but sounds like a pretty solid start so far in advance.

5. Fox Is Splitting the Season Right Down the Middle
We found out early on Monday that “Empire” will be coming back to a two-halved 18-episode season — but it turns out that’s just the highest profile program using Fox’s new schedule criteria. Fox co-CEO Dana Walden told her captivated Monday crowd that Fox’s new strategy will revolve around that concept: splitting seasons into two equal parts, with very limited interruptions breaking up each half. That will hopefully enhance anticipation and allow for predictable, habitual live viewing.

6. Andy Samberg Has One Condition for Hosting the Emmys
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star Andy Samberg agreed to host the Emmys on one condition, he told the afternoon upfront crowd: “So long as I get to also perform at the upfronts!”

Wish granted.

7. “Gotham’s” Getting New Baddies
Move over, Riddler and Penguin: Mr. Freeze and the Joker are both going to be “Gotham” staples next season, other co-CEO Gary Newman casually remarked during his portion of Fox’s upfront presentation.

8. “Idol’s” Got its Groove — er, Group — Back
Ryan Seacrest, Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. will all return for “Idol’s” 15th and final season, Newman and Walden revealed on stage this afternoon. Earlier in the morning, via a conference call, the two stated that the door is certainly open for legacy cast members like Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson to make appearances. They’re also in talks to bring back some fan-favorite contestants in to-be-announced roles.

9. “Grandfathered” Tested “Off the Charts”
Walden told the Beacon crowd that John Stamos’ new “Grandfathered” role, Jimmy, was the one he was born to play. No offense, Uncle Jesse. But the executive also informed her Monday afternoon audience that the new sitcom “tested off the charts” — especially among women. Though that last one may be a no-brainer.

 10. The “X Files” Gang Just Needs to Show Up
“X Files” Creator Chris Carter took the stage with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson towards the end of the day’s presentation. They barely said anything (at all), and there was no footage, as production begins next month. The crowd was still abuzz. Expect huge ratings following the NFC Championship Game — a dream lead-in for a reboot that probably doesn’t even need one.