Imagine TV, which is behind hit Fox series Empire, has three new dramas on the midseason schedule – 24: Legacy, a reboot of the company’s signature drama 24; limited series Shots Fired on Fox; and Genius on sibling National Geographic. They are the last series to come out of Imagine TV’s series of overall deals at 20th Century Fox TV.
Brian Grazer and Ron Howard took their company Imagine Entertainment indie last year with a $100 million+ investment from The Raine Group. Things have not changed dramatically for the TV division, which has several high-profile projects in development with 20th TV and another season of Arrested Development on Netflix that Grazer expects to go into production soon. “We are still going to work with 20th a lot, they are incredibly good at their job,” Grazer told Deadline at TCA. Beyond that, “I don’t know what it is going to be, honestly,” he said, noting how much he has enjoyed working with Netflix. “We will have a lot of opportunities because quality narrative storytelling is more coveted today that it has ever been.”
One difference going forward is that the moneyed Imagine is “looking to co-finance television and movie content,” Grazer said. The company will still be teaming with traditional studios, like 20th TV, but now as a co-financier and co-owner of content.
Keeping 24 alive has been a long-time mission for Grazer. “I was such a fan of (the original series) because it was such an amazing serendipitous intersection between narrative form, what was going on in the culture and what was going to happen in the culture,” he said. When the series ended, “I became an insane fan who would just champion this into another life which would be a ninth season (Live Another Day).”
Grazer also led a major push for a 24 movie starring original leading man Kiefer Sutherland, from 24 showrunner Howard Gordon. “I got Howard involved, I got Kiefer involved, I worked on the movie for two years.”
But the project never got off the ground. “It just worked better for television,” Grazer said of the 24 premise. “We couldn’t really find the right world to put it in, the right location. To base it in America seemed not very authentic whereas to do a TV show in America was the perfect bridge. We put it in European countries, but it wasn’t working there with the economics, we couldn’t find enough money to make it. So we couldn’t find the right location, we couldn’t find the right story, and it was always too expensive.”
While the movie was not to be, 24 is back with a series reboot, 24: Legacy, featuring a new hero played by Corey Hawkins.
A lot has changed since the original series launched in fall 2001, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and aired in the era of Al-Queda. 24: Legacy reflects the new realities of decentralized terrorist activities under ISIS. The 2001 24 was an instant hit, providing a hero in Jack Bauer when the nation needed one. “It is driven by a wish fulfillment character, a character we all wish we could be,” Grazer said.
24: Legacy comes out with another blue-collar hero at a time when there is an increased emphasis on reflecting all Americans, especially the often-neglected (by the networks) flyover states. “I think middle America will watch the show and they will feel a sense of escape and relief by watching it,” Grazer said.