'Empire' Showrunner Inks Rich Overall Deal With 20th TV

Ilene Chaiken has signed a new two-year deal with an option for a third, with sources pegging the pact at seven figures.
Courtesy of 20th TV

An important member of Fox's empire is staying put.

Ilene Chaiken, who serves as showrunner on the breakout hit Empire, has signed an overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The two-year deal, which includes an option for a third, will keep Chaiken at the helm of the series and also allow her to develop new projects for the studio. Sources tell THR the new pact is in the seven-figure range.

"Ilene is about as gifted a showrunner as there is in this business, and we could not be happier that she has made this studio her home," said 20th TV creative affairs president Jonathan Davis. "This deal not only keeps her at the helm of the monster hit Empire, on which she has done extraordinary work delivering episode after brilliant episode, but also allows us to develop future projects with her."

Chaiken's pact is not surprising given the stunning ratings performance by Empire throughout its blockbuster first season. The series premiered to a 5.6 rating among adults 18-49 and went onto become the No. 1 broadcast series of the year.

Empire was renewed for a second season after just two episodes — a rare feat in broadcast programming.

Imagine Television produces the series in association with 20th Century Fox Television. Created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, Empire is exec produced by Daniels, Strong, Imagine's Brian Grazer, Chaiken and Francie Calfo.

Chaiken's credits include Black Box, The Real L Word: Los Angeles and The L Word, which she created. She's repped by WME and 3 Arts.

Lesley Goldberg contributed to this report.