Fox's new season: Lots if flash ... but only one more year of "Idol"

As the “American
Idol” finale nears, fans have received a sudden jolt: Next season
will be the last.

It will be “a
season-long celebration,” insisted Gary Newman, the Fox Network
co-chairman. It will try for visits by past stars and past judges; it
could even invite the original co-host.

“Where is Brian
Dunkelman?” co-chairman Dana Walden asked. “Does anyone have his
phone number? I'll call him myself.”

By the end of its
first season (when Dunkelman had already seemed to lose interest),
“Idol” was a phenomenon. It has spent over half of its 14 seasons
as the No. 1 show on television; there was a “pretty emotional
decision” to call next year the last, Newman said.

That gives Fox one
more chance to nudge its slumping ratings. Newman talks about a plan
that has many shows take mid-season breaks (with cliffhangers), while
other new shows filling in. The rerun habits of the past “just
don't work any more,” he said.

For this fall, Fox's
key returning pieces are:

-- “Empire,” a
big ratings hit during its brief, 12-episode first season. It will
have 18 episodes next season, with “Idol” briefly borrowing
Wednesdays at mid-season. Leading into “Empire” will be
“Rosewood,” with Morris Chestnut as a high-tech crimesolver.

-- “Gotham,” a
fairly solid hit in its first season. On Mondays, it will be paired
with “Minority Report” (a futuristic crime tale), then the brief
“X-Files” mini-series and “Lucifer.” That last one – like
“Gotham,” from DC Comics – has Satan himself helping catch bad
guys he dislikes.

-- “Bones,”
which was in doubt as producers scrambled to re-sign its stars. Now
it will be on Thursdays with “Sleepy Hollow” -- a combination
that once did well on Mondays,

-- The Sunday
comedies, boosted by former “Saturday Night Live” people. Andy
Samberg stars in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and (on the opening Sunday)
hosts the Emmys; Will Forte stars in “The Last Man on Earth.”

Alongside the
returning shows, Fox will have all-new Tuesdays. (“New Girl”
returns later, but “The Mindy Project” is done.) Walden calls it
“a big, noisy, star-filled night,” with two comedies and an
offbeat comedy-drama.

In “Grandfathered,”
John Stamos learns he's a father ... and a grandfather. In “The
Grinder,” Rob Lowe plays a lawyer on TV ... then, when the show is
canceled, works in the real law office of his brother (Fred Savage).
In “Scream Queens,” a sorority house is beset by weekly murders;
it's from “Glee” producer Ryan Murphy and has a cast that
includes Lea Michele, Abigail Breslin, Keke Palmer, Emma Roberts and,
of course, Jamie Lee Curtis.

Mid-season brings
more, including a live “Grease” ... and the 15th and
final “Idol.” The fall line-up:

-- Mondays:
“Gotham,” 8 p.m.; “Minority Report,” 9.

-- Tuesdays:
“Grandfathered,” 8 p.m.; “The Grinder,” 8:30; “Scream
Queens,” 9.

-- Wednesdays:
“Rosewood,” 8 p.m.; “Empire,” 9.

-- Thursdays:
“Bones,” 8 p.m.; “Sleepy Hollow,” 9.

-- Fridays:
“MasterChef Junior,” 8 p.m.; “World's Funniest,” 9.

-- Saturday: College
football, 7 p.m.

-- Sunday: Football
overrun, 7-8 p.m. (sometimes “Bob 's Burgers” at 7:30); “The
Simpsons,” 8; “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” 8:30; “Family Guy,” 9;
“The Last Man on Earth,” 9:30.