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TVUpfronts 2017

Music and sports are like peanut butter and jelly at Fox's upfront presentation

Frank Micelotta / Fox (Terrence Howard, left, and Taraji P. Henson of "Empire" and Queen Latifah and Benjamin Bratt of "Star" perform during the upfront presentation for Fox)
Frank Micelotta / Fox (Terrence Howard, left, and Taraji P. Henson of "Empire" and Queen Latifah and Benjamin Bratt of "Star" perform during the upfront presentation for Fox)

It was all about the music — and sports too — at Fox's upfront presentation Monday evening at the Beacon Theatre in New York.

The 90-minute-plus presentation spent a good chunk of time emphasizing Fox's sports properties, with appearances by Fox Sports play-by-play announcer Joe Buck and former Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, who joins Fox Sports as a Major League Baseball analyst. All the praise isn't surprising when you consider the network is poised to finish this season in second place in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 demographic, up from third last season — largely thanks to a boost from Super Bowl LI and the record-setting World Series. The Fox NFL lineup and MLB rights got a lot of stage time talk.

But music even infused the sports part of the presentation, with Terry Bradshaw and his "NFL Sunday" cohorts taking the stage to do a football parody of Bruno Mars' "24K Magic."

Sports talk aside, Fox spent much of its time in a musical state of mind.

Longtime Fox collaborator Seth MacFarlane ("Family Guy"), whose new sci-fi dramedy "The Orville" launches in the fall, opened the entertainment part of the program with a Frank Sinatra-esque comedic number — complete with an orchestra — before introducing Fox TV Group chiefs Dana Walden and Gary Newman as "the only people at Fox who haven't been sued."

In previewing the 2017-18 schedule, Walden and Newman went straight to touting Wednesday's music takeover with a double dose of Lee Daniels' dramas with "Empire" and "Star." Last season, "Star" went into rotation during "Empire's" break. Now the two will air together.

Fox is the perfect home to "Empire" and "Star," said Taraji P. Henson, joined by her "Empire" co-star Terrence Howard, and "Star" faces Queen Latifah and Benjamin Bratt. 

"In fact," Henson added, "it's the only network that could even contain shows this big. Other networks couldn't handle this much Cookie ... let alone Cookie and the Queen."

To which Latifah responded: "Get ready for Wednesdays, 'cause Cookie and Carlotta are coming for you."

That led into a musical performance from "Empire's" Jussie Smollett and the cast of "Star."

Walden spoke about the new schedule night by night after that, giving some encouragement to some newcomers: Marvel's "The Gifted" and MacFarlane's "The Orville" and the Adam Scott-Craig Robinson paranormal comedy "Ghosted."

But the music continued, with a group of singers performing "Seasons of Love" to tout the network's live staging of "Rent" set for 2018.

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