Networks unveil fall lineups at upfront this week


With a Writers’ Strike now averted, the networks can now get back down to business, and partying it up, when they announce their Fall schedules this week at New York’s Upfronts.

The Chicago Production Community can now also take comfort in knowing that many series are returning here this summer and fall for production.

It was no surprise that three of The Dick Wolf “Chicago-verse” series are returning — Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med. Although there was a question about Med and P.D., sources say the relationship between the network and Wolf run deep and they were not about to rock the boat. Chicago Fire is NBC’s second-highest-rated and most watched drama series behind breakout This Is Us.

However, Chicago Justice still remains on the bubble although NBC announced its schedule earlier today. Justice is the latest expansion to Dick Wolf’s Chicago franchise on the network and debuted earlier this spring to less than stellar ratings. Despite the lackluster tune-ins, Justice is a logical fit for Wolf’s “One Chicago” world, with easy crossover ability with its sibling shows.

In a Deadline article, NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt said that the network has not given up hope on finding a place in its schedule for the procedural drama. It just may have to wait for a late-spring launch again.

We haven’t made a definitive decision on that yet,” Greenblatt told reporters during a conference call on Sunday morning. “We were so rich with hour shows and moving things around, we decided that we didn’t have a place for it yet. But we’re still looking deeper into midseason.”

Things were a bit more surprising over at Fox as underperforming, but well-reviewed freshman horror series The Exorcist was renewed. Toplined by Geena Davis, Ben Daniels and Alfonso Herrera and based on William Peter Blatty’s bestseller and the classic 1973 movie, the series had a soft freshman ratings run though held steady. It averaged a modest 1.2 adults 18-49 rating (Live+7).

The Exorcist is reportedly liked creatively by the network. The pitch for next season was well received, and there is talk about bringing in a showrunner for Season 2. No specific details of where Season Two might go, but producers say it will open a new chapter of the iconic franchise.

The network did cancel its other Chicago-based freshman, APB. The series debuted to decent ratings in February, but the numbers quickly fell. By the time it wrapped Season One, the series averaged only a 0.8 rating in adults 18-49 and 3.4 million viewers.

Juggernaut, Empire, was already renewed for Season 4 in January and Showtime’s Shameless, currently filming, was also renewed for Season 8 back in mid-December. Amazon’s The Chi, about the lives of young black men on the South Side of Chicago, is expected to begin shooting in April or May. The cast includes one more Moonlight alum, Alex R. Hibbert (who played young Chiron).

LA-Based Colin Costello writes for film, TV, advertising and of course, Reel Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @colincostello10.

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