Last week, Fox released a new high-profile drama Monarch from the mid-season range two weeks before its launch behind network coverage of the NFC Championship Game.
The country music family dynasty series, starring Susan Sarandon, Trace Adkins, Anna Friel and Beth Ditto, will debut in fall 2022. In a statement announcing the move, the network said it was “due to the unavoidable realities of the pandemic and the profound impact that Covid-19 continues to have on our industry and around the world.
There were other factors as well, including a showrunner change in November, with Jon Feldman replacing Michael Rauch. Monarch, Fox Entertainment’s First Fully Owned Drama Series, was spinning at the time and had already been assigned the January 30 post-NFL game slot. Production was briefly halted while the series adjusted the creative direction, which included reshoots.
“We’ve finished about five episodes, but when we changed the showrunner, there were creative changes that came along that we’re implementing in the episodes that are really exciting,” Fox Entertainment president Michael Thorn told Deadline during an interview related to Fox’s TCA presentation last week. “We want to make sure we’re able to do that and give our partners the time to implement it, so it all grew out of setting up the show for success, and we’re really excited about that.”
Although production on Monarch was not halted due to positive Covid tests, the prospect of this happening amid the current Omicron surge which has affected dozens of shows factored into the decision. from Fox, Thorn said, especially with MonarchThe delivery schedule of already tight due to the transition of the showrunner.
“If we had a Covid disruption, it could eventually create a delay in our air program, potentially in the middle. And that’s not the best way to do television today,” Thorn said, noting that network officials are happy with the show. “We took a step back, we saw the first two episodes which are very strong, and we wanted to give the series the longest possible runway for the launch to ensure, when the series premiered, that it enjoys all the benefits of the campaign, he deserves as uninterrupted an air program as possible and we really support him.
Created by Melissa London Hilfers, Monarch is a multi-generational musical drama about America’s first country music family, the Romans. The series incorporates largely original music; the first song of Monarch was released by Arista Records in December. The musical nature of the show created additional challenges, Thorn said.
“Music-driven programming, exciting as it is, isn’t just about completing the actual episodic production, there are so many soulful complementary pieces that come along with a series that has music in it, and we didn’t want to be put in a position, if Covid shut us down, where we didn’t meet our schedule,” Thorn said. “And where we had to start making creative compromises. Frankly, the show deserves better.
Despite being pushed to fall, Monarch will remain in production until spring to complete the season.