TCA: 'Empire' Spinoff(s) Could Happen, Says E.P. Chaiken

Complete Coverage: TCA Summer 2016

Beverly Hills, Calif. -- A spinoff, or perhaps two, of Fox hit Empire is a possibility, says Ilene Chaiken, executive producer on the show. Chaiken said both Cookie and Lucious Lyon, portrayed by Taraji P. Henson and Terence Howard, respectively, could carry their own series.

“It certainly could be,” she said. “We’ve talked about it, and I think the show offers so many opportunities.”

Chaiken did not say such projects were in the works.

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The new season will feature some dramatic storylines, teased Chaiken. “Cookie is going to try to leave Lucious in season three,” she said. “She’s going to try to move on.”

Season three, which debuts Sept. 21, features guest visits from Mariah Carey, Taye Diggs and others. Carey, said Henson, “brought a sense of what Mariah brings to the music industry to our show. I’m glad she spent time with little ol’ us.”

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Chaiken said Diggs “would like to be” a love interest of Henson’s Cookie. Henson added, “Who knew Taye Diggs was funny? And he’s easy on the eye.”

Executive producer/director Sanaa Hamri said Henson gives Empire a huge blast of energy. “I never really know what Taraji’s gonna do,” she said. “It keeps it fresh for me as a director.”

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For her part, Henson said she’d all but given up on TV before taking on the Cookie role. “I never thought I’d experience anything like this on primetime network television,” she said.

One downside of fame, noted Henson, is that she’s Cookie in fans’ minds. “People forget my father came up with a beautiful Swahili name,” she said. “They only see Cookie.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.