CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- ABC has picked up its reality franchise "The Bachelor" for two more cycles, taking the series through the end of the 2004-05 season.
In addition, the network has released complete details about its upcoming limited series "Empire."
Both announcements were made via press release this morning:
"THE BACHELOR" GETS ANOTHER ROSE, AS ABC ANNOUNCES TWO NEW INSTALLMENTS OF THE HIT ROMANCE REALITY SERIES FOR THE 2004-05 SEASON
ABC has ordered two new installments of the hit romance reality series, "The Bachelor," to air during the 2004-05 season, it was announced today by Andrea Wong, senior vice president for Alternative Series and Specials, ABC Entertainment. The two runs of ABC's popular reality series will encompass 22 hours of television.
"We couldn't be happier to have our hit reality series back next season," said Ms. Wong. "Through brilliant casting and carefully added elements to the original formula, the show is a rock on our primetime lineup."
"We are thrilled. Hopefully we can be the network's No. 1 show for a fourth consecutive season," said Mike Fleiss, creator and executive producer of "The Bachelor" franchise.
"The Bachelor" is ABC's top-rated entertainment program this season in Total Viewers (13.1 million) and Adults 18-49 (6.1/15). In each of its editions, the ABC unscripted program has regularly led its time period among young adult viewers. In the current fifth season of "The Bachelor," New York Giants back-up quarterback Jesse Palmer is narrowing down the field of 25 women, as he attempts to find one who shares his desire for a serious, long-term relationship.
Hosted by Chris Harrison, "The Bachelor" is produced by Next Entertainment in association with Telepictures Productions. Mike Fleiss ("High School Reunion") is executive producer. Lisa Levenson, Scott Jeffress and Jason Carbone are co-executive producers.
PRODUCTION HAS BEGUN ON "EMPIRE," A SWEEPING, NEW LIMITED DRAMA SERIES AIRING ON THE ABC TELEVISION NETWORK NEXT SEASON
Jonathan Cake and Santiago Cabrera Star
Victor Garber and Trudie Styler Also Appear in the Lavish Eight-Episode Series
Production has begun in Rome on "Empire," a sweeping new limited drama series from the executive producers of the Academy Award-winning "Chicago." The period drama focuses on Julius Caesar's nephew, Octavius, who is forced into exile after Caesar's murder, and a fictional disgraced gladiator, Tyrannus, who has sworn to protect him. The series is slated to air during the 2004-2005 season on the ABC Television Network.
The one-hour, eight episode series will be one of the most lavish and technically complex ever to air on ABC in primetime. "Empire" is being executive-produced by award-winning producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron ("Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows," "Meredith Willson's The Music Man," "Brian's Song," ABC's "Annie," "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella" and ABC's comedy series "It's All Relative"), Tony Jonas (TV's "Lost at Home," "Queer as Folk"), Chip Johannessen ("24," "The X-Files,") and Thomas Wheeler ("The Prometheus Project," "The Mission"), who is also the series creator.
The time is 44 B.C. and the Conqueror Julius Caesar (guest star Victor Garber, "Alias," "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows") returns from triumphs in Spain to a neglected Republic and a corrupt Senate, drunk with power. Though he's hailed as a hero by the masses, the Senate is wary of Caesar's plans that might place him in a position of ultimate power. Brutus (James Frain, "Spartacus," "Arabian Nights") and Cassius attempt to enlist the assistance of Marc Antony (Vincent Regan, "Troy," "Joan of Arc") in overthrowing Caesar, but Antony is loyal to Caesar and refuses. A terrible conflict looms and the fate of an empire will fall to one man � a gladiator named Tyrannus.
Tyrannus (Jonathan Cake, "First Knight"), Caesar's bodyguard and confidant and Rome's finest warrior, is undefeated in the arena and considered a champion among men. A slave since he was a young man, Tyrannus impresses Caesar with his fighting prowess and his popularity, and with his dedication to Rome. Caesar offers him freedom in return for his service and friendship. However the Senate puts up a vicious fight for power and manages to separate Caesar from Tyrannus' protective grasp by sending the gladiator to one last match to the death. His absence from Caesar's side results in Brutus successfully leading a group of conspirators in assassinating the great conqueror. As he is drawing his last breath, Caesar swears Tyrannus to an oath to protect his successor, Octavius (Santiago Cabrera), his 18-year-old nephew.
Tyrannus and Octavius are forced into exile to protect the young man from those who want to sever Caesar's bloodline once and for all. They are joined by Agrippa (Chris Egan), a young soldier, and Camane (Emily Blunt), a Vestal Virgin from the powerful religious Order whose members are being hunted down for trying to save Octavius. Together they will help Octavius fulfill his destiny. He leaves Rome an impetuous boy, but will Octavius return as Emperor?
"Empire" stars Jonathan Cake as Tyrannus, Santiago Cabrera as Octavius, Emily Blunt as Camane, Chris Egan as Agrippa and Vincent Regan as Marc Antony.
Recurring or guest stars include Victor Garber as Caesar, Trudie Styler as Servilia, James Frain as Brutus, Michael Brynes as Cicero, Orla Brady as Atia, Graham McTavish as Rapax, N'Deaye Ba as Nila and Fiona Shaw as Fulvia.
"Empire" is being directed by John Gray ("Brian's Song," "Helter Skelter," "Martin and Lewis"), Kim Manners ("X-Files") and Greg Yaitanes ("Line of Fire," "Cold Case," "CSI Miami"). Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Tony Jonas, Chip Johannessen and series creator Tom Wheeler are the executive producers. The series is produced by Taranus LTD. in association with Storyline Entertainment and distributed by Touchstone Television.