The Empire spinoff starring Taraji P. Henson as the fan-favorite character Cookie Lyon seemed like a sure thing when it was first announced but now the project has hit a bit of a snag. Fox, the network that aired Empire for six seasons, has opted not to move forward with the spinoff. Disney TV Studios’ 20th Television, which produces the project with Imagine TV, is currently shopping it to Disney outlets ABC and Hulu.
The final decision on Fox’s part seems to deal with the show not being the right fit for the network at this time along with money. A spinoff of such a successful series comes with a high price tag, which is hard for a broadcast network to cover, especially when it is not affiliated with the studio as is the case with Fox and 20th TV, which became separated by the Disney-Fox acquisition toward the end of Empire‘s run. Empire was highly successful for Fox, particularly during its first three seasons but the television landscape has changed even in the short time that Empire has been off the air, particularly with the pilots moving forward during an unprecedented pandemic-influenced pilot season.
20th TV and Imagine TV are currently exploring a potential new home for the Empire spinoff within the Disney TV universe, with ABC and Hulu being the top choices for the spinoff. Series creator Danny Strong and Taraji P. Henson are both under deals at 20th TV and both have other projects in various stages of development. Fox brass also wants to keep working with Strong, Henson, and Empire co-creator, Lee Daniels, on future projects. The network recently opened a writer’s room for drama Our Kind of People, from Lee, Karen Gist, and 20th TV, with an eye to a series order that appears likely.
Empire followed a hip-hop mogul that must choose a successor among his three sons who are battling for control over his multi-million dollar company, while his ex-wife schemes to reclaim what’s hers. The series also starred Terrence Howard, Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Ta’Rhonda Jones, Gabourey Sidibe, Serayah, and Grace Byers. Henson received critical acclaim for her performance on the show and even took home the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress In a Drama Series.
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