'Empire' Co-Creator Lee Daniels: "There Will Be a Spinoff"

"We talked about it in the room already," the outspoken executive producer said Thursday at TCA.
Courtesy of Sunshine Sachs

Empire is the No. 1 show on broadcast TV so it was only a matter of time before questions about a spinoff came up.

"Without question there will be a spinoff," co-creator Lee Daniels said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour Thursday. "We talked about it in the room already."

At this point, there are no definite plans for a spinoff, but Daniels noted the strength of the show's large cast of characters. Although it won't be in the near future, there's still plenty of Empire to go around. After a 12-episode first season, Fox expanded the order for season two to 18 episodes.

"It was terrifying at first, but Fox gave us this really great schedule and plan for actually unveiling the show — the two pods, 10 episodes and 8 with a hiatus in between, nothing is different," said showrunner Ilene Chaiken. "The show will be every bit as good, and we're not feeling any sense of having to do too much, running out of story."

Added Daniels: "I think Fox has really put a schedule together that has made me less terrified."

Because there will be more episodes this season, Daniels also said that the pacing will slow down "a little" in season two. "We'd like to bring it back a little bit," he said.

Daniels also said that Empire would be more cautious about adding celebrity and musical guest stars to the call sheet after the first season, in which Daniels threw around A-list names like Oprah and Denzel Washington as possible future guest stars. 

"The more celebrities, the more stars we put on this show, the more it takes away from the family," said Daniels. "If we can dazzle you with a little Denzel, a little Oprah, that's OK, but I think I got to stick to the family. That's what the show is about."

However, Mariah Carey will be appearing, as Daniels announced at the singer's Walk of Fame ceremony Wednesday. Although sources told THR there is no deal in place yet, executive producer Brian Grazer is confident it will happen. "We're just trying to figure out the scheduling right now," he said.

Always known for his candid comments — when asked about a lawsuit brought by a woman who claims Cookie is based off on her, Daniels simply said, "Bye Felicia," — he also addressed the controversy surrounding his reaction to Empire's Emmy snubs. On the day the Emmy nominations were announced last month, Daniels posted a video on his Instagram account in which he said "F— those motherf—ers!"

But Daniels chalked up the controversy to social media users misinterpreting his "twisted" sense of humor. "People take things out of context. If you follow me on social media, you will get my sense of humor," he said. "Certainly no disrespect or sour grapes at all."

The hip-hop drama received three nominations, including one for Henson, but no recognition for the series or actor Terrence Howard. "I'm very excited that we are picked up. I'm very lucky to be working. I spoke to my cast when we didn’t get an Emmy nomination, and I told Terrence and we had a moment. I said, 'We are lucky to be employed. We are blessed,' " said Daniels. "I'm honored to just go to work."

Empire's new season premieres Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. on Fox.

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