Fox and Lee Daniels Are Working on Making an Empire Spinoff a Reality

EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Bryshere Gray as Hakeem Lyon, Taraji P. Henson and Serayah McNeill as Tiana in the “Without A Country” episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Sept. 30 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Chuck Hodes/FOX.
Photo: Chuck Hodes/FOX

The Empire spinoff you know you want is looking increasingly likely — and could be on the air by late next year. Last month co-creator Lee Daniels told reporters that an extension of his Fox smash would happen “without question,” even throwing out a possible idea (a prequel focusing on a young Cookie Lyon). Now Fox TV Group co-chief Dana Walden tells Vulture that discussions have begun about exactly how to make it happen, explaining that the seeds for the new show could be planted by early next year via one or more episodes of Empire. “If there’s a character … that feels original enough, has enough momentum and enough of a storytelling engine, we will definitely look to spin Empire off for next season,” she said. Said character, Walden added, “would, in all likelihood, appear in the second half of this season.”

Don’t go setting your mental DVR for Empire II just yet, however. Walden emphasized that she and execs at Fox and studio 20th Century Fox TV won’t rush Daniels, or force him to churn out some hastily constructed offshoot for the sake of extending the Empire brand. “We just want to make sure the right idea presents itself to the creators, and that it’s not something that feels forced or fabricated,” she told us. “And we’re not going to rush anything. We want the writers to stay focused on making a great season of Empire this year.” Besides, even if the Empire spinoff doesn’t take shape later this season, Fox still stands a good chance of being able to tout a new show “from the co-creator of Empire” next fall. The network announced last month that it was making a pilot for Star, a new drama about a rising young singing group, shepherded by Daniels and writer Tom Donaghy. Walden says a draft of the pilot script has already been turned in, and while she has yet to read it, two of her development underlings have — and they “are really excited about it.”

Fox, Lee Daniels Working on Empire Spinoff