Why Did Fox Cancel Star?

The hit Fox series "Empire" was a scripted music drama that grabbed people's attention as much as any reality show. Premiering in 2015, the show centered around a musically talented family that built an award-winning recording label on lies, deceit, murder, and scandalous romantic interests. Its star-studded cast, over-the-top plot lines, questionable acting, and intense cliffhangers had fans tuning in week after week for six seasons. Following its success, creator Lee Daniels went on to write and produce a spin-off of sorts called "Star."

Debuting in 2016, "Star" focused on two sisters with a messy past (played by Jude Demorest and Brittany O'Grady) who meet a fellow singer and musical protege (Ryan Destiny) on Instagram and then travel to Atlanta to try to land their big break as part of an R&B girl group. Though the show attracted a growing audience, its abrupt cancellation in 2019 left fans with a serious cliffhanger. Here's the real reason "Star" suddenly disappeared.

The network wanted to prioritize Empire over Star

"Star" was essentially the little sister of the hit show "Empire," so much of its success and fan following stemmed from its predecessor. Perhaps too much. 

According to Deadline, Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier wanted to make "Empire" the priority as it approached its sixth and final season in 2020. Collier said he wanted to give the show "the send-off it deserves," and that included shifting its time slot to 9 p.m. "'Star' was always the lead-out from 'Empire,'" he explained, but the network couldn't push "Star" to 10 p.m. At the end of the day, there was solid space for the spin-off.

The almighty dollar may have also played a role in the show's cancellation. Similar to "Empire," whose cast included big names like Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard (pictured above), "Star" also featured a star-studded musical cast — including Queen Latifah, Lenny Kravitz, Gladys Knight, Tyrese Gibson, and more — which made producing the show expensive. Even though the series attracted high viewership, Deadline reported that its international sales were still challenging.

Creator Lee Daniels previously teased a proper conclusion

"Star" premiered its final episode on May 8, 2019, with the ultimate cliffhanger. At the wedding of main characters Alexandra Crane and Derek (played by Ryan Destiny and Diddy's son, Quincy Brown), there was a shootout initiated by a neighborhood gang. The dramatic episode left many questions hanging in the air and robbed audiences of any sense of closure. 

Creator Lee Daniels revealed on Instagram in July 2019 that the show will eventually have a proper conclusion with a 2-hour movie special, per The Wrap. "We're gonna make something real special for you to scream about with all of our cast members, even the dead ones," he said in the video. 

At the time of this writing, the status of that highly-anticipated movie remains up in the air, but we did check in with some members of the cast.

Where are the Star cast members now?

While fans wait for the movie special to put a period on this show's unfinished business, the stars of "Star" are kept busy. Jude Demorest, who plays the show's main character and namesake, Star Davis, is actively working on her music. She released a music video for her track "White Gown" on YouTube in 2022 but has remained relatively quiet ever since.

Fellow on-screen bandmate Ryan Destiny (who plays the privileged and angsty Alexandra Crane) is also working on her music and acting. Similar to her character, Destiny is also the child of a music star, and following the show's cancellation, she landed a recurring role in ABC's "Grown-Ish." She will also be playing Clarissa Shields, the first woman in history to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing, in the forthcoming biopic "Flint Strong," according to Teen Vogue.

Brittany O'Grady, who plays Demorest's younger sister in the show, took her talents to the big screen and was booked in the 2019 holiday horror movie "Black Christmas." O'Grady plays a "happy-and-go-lucky" sorority girl who fights for her life against a masked serial killer. While the actresses are busy with their other endeavors, let's hope they'll all be available for the highly-anticipated "Star" movie special.

Devotees are still holding out hope

It's been four years since "Star" was canceled, and there's still no sign of the 2-hour movie finale that the show's creator, Lee Daniels, promised heartbroken fans. "The bad news is that 'Star' is not getting picked up for series," he announced in a video posted to Instagram. However, the caption read, "Get ready for a two-hour gag!!" and Daniels vowed that "something special for you to scream about" was in the works.

But there has been no mention from him since. And the likelihood of a TV movie special being made becomes slimmer each passing year. Still, devotees hold out hope for the show's nail-biting cliffhanger to be resolved one day. Queen Latifah, who played Carlotta Brown in the drama series, is fanning the flames of hope. "I know [Daniels] is definitely working on a TV movie," she told ET. "To my knowledge, it is going to happen. It's going to be a couple of hours, and we'll be able to tie up all of the loose ends," Latifah continued. The actor said she wants to know how everything ends just as much as fans do. "So we're looking forward to making that happen," she asserted.

In the meantime, the Hip Hop star is keeping busy with another TV show while she waits. Latifah plays the lead character, Robyn McCall, in the CBS spy thriller, "Equalizer." The series, which Latifah also co-produces, launched in 2021 and is currently awaiting a Season 4 premiere date.

Star sweetener

It wasn't just "Star" fans devastated by its cancellation. Series creator Lee Daniels said that the cast and crew were heartbroken, too — so he shared a sweetener to help cheer people up. "I have a series of bloopers that at least make this abrupt ending a little less painful ... couldn't tag everybody in this; you'll be tagged in the next one!! Lots of Love!" He captioned a compilation posted on Instagram.

The video provides "diehard fans" with a series of on-camera blunders to enjoy. Jude Demorest, Brittany O'Grady, and Ryan Destiny, who play Star Davis, Simone Davis, and Alexandra Crane on the show, are seen singing, giggling, and hugging, while Queen Latifah and Benjamin Bratt, who play Carlotta Brown and Jahil Rivera, engage in some bedspring breaking faux PDAs.

Meanwhile, despite Queen Latifah's insistence that a "Star" movie special is in the works, it remains all quiet on the director front. Lee Daniels continues to stay schtum, and there's nothing listed on his IMDB page. But fans aren't giving up that easily. They've started a Change.org petition demanding the show's return. "Apart from Power, this is one of the few good African-American shows left on television. Along with giving us GREAT R&B music weekly (much better than most stuff out these days), this show successfully entertained while dealing with LGBT, police brutality, mental health, and many more issues," it reads. The petitioner begs for help in persuading Fox "to bring Star back."