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EMPIRE Season 2: Can The Hit Fox Soap Opera Avoid The Sophomore Slump & Continue To Increase Ratings And Ad Revenue?

Courtesy/FOX

Courtesy/FOX

It would be almost impossible for Empire to fall that far from grace!  Fox’s hit primetime soap broke all records in the ratings in its first season.  The creative team has worked tirelessly behind the scenes bringing the drama, and the music to this already huge brand!

There are also plenty of highly-touted guest stars that will emerge this season on the canvas.  Empire returns Wednesday night beginning at 9PMEST/8CST.  But still the question remains: can the show outperform it’s record-breaking season with the network looking to increase viewership and ad revenue … or, will it take a dip?

TV Guide spoke to Empire showrunner Ilene Chaiken about any sophomore jinxes and jitters. Many a show has fallen to the dreaded sophomore slump, but could that even happen to Empire?   Chaiken related to TVG:  “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit of pressure. But once we sat down and started working, the only thing I feel is the need to dig deep and try to break great stories and write great stories and produce good episodes.””

In an article with ADWeek they relate on expectations for the performance of Empire’s second season:  “We have high expectations for how it’s going to perform,” said Gary Newman, co-CEO and co-chairman of Fox Television Group. “Will the show stay as hot as it was in Season 1? I think it’s inevitable that it won’t be as hot. It will perform great, but nothing remains a phenomenon for that long.  So, we have to be realistic about our expectation levels. But the material that we’ve seen so far has been great. We feel confident that we have the goods this year.”

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ADWeek also added:  “While the network feels like its marketing plan is as solid as Season 2’s episodes, one thing is out of its hands—the inevitability of some kind of backlash, which seems to follow every TV show’s meteoric rise. Already, there has been some audience grumbling about the number of high-profile guest stars on tap: Empire’s premiere episode includes appearances from Marisa Tomei, Chris Rock, Kelly Rowland and Al Sharpton, with Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Pitbull set for subsequent weeks.

However, Fox insists, that the show’s producers will be able to sidestep any land mines. “We have a lot of conversations with our creators about how the shiny object of a guest cast member should never distract from what’s going on with our characters that have connected with this audience who they love,” commented Dana Walden, co-chairman and co-CEO, Fox Television Group.

As for the key storylines – brothers Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) and Jamal (Jussie Smollett) will be at major odds as the season starts, according to Chaiken: “There’s a lot of love between them, but they go at one another. And there’s a strain created by the fact that Jamal got the throne. That’s something that Hakeem always thought he was entitled to and destined for. He has a lot to prove, some of it will be at Jamal’s expense.”

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And as for what happens with Lucious (Terrence Howard) behind bars, and when he gets out and seeks his revenge for ending up in the slammer in the first place, Chaiken teased:  “I think the combination of no longer living with a death sentence, and then having faced life in prison is going to leave Lucious more ferocious, more calculating, less forgiving than before. It just reinvigorates him for the fight.”

Lucious war on his ex-wife will also put her son Jamal and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) at opposite sides of the fence!  That also will open the door for a new potential squeeze for Cookie when Adam Rodriguez makes his debut in the new role of Laz Delagado.

Finally, let’s not forget Andre (Trai Byers )and Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday)!  In the season one finale; she has a baby on the way, he has mental issues, and they are now covering up a murder! How will this play out?  Stay tuned!

So, do you think Empire will pick up where it left off with unparalleled ratings?  Do you think it will take a bit of a tumble?  What storypoints are you most interrested in seeing play out?   Share your comments beloww!

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Geoffrey-Martin Cyr
Geoffrey-Martin Cyr

I guess I am one of only a dozen people on the planet that couldn’t care less about this show; both the subject matter, musical score and content never appealed to me!! I am usually a fan of what Lee Daniels produces, but exposure to the narcissism of Taraji/Cookie turned my stomach from day one. (I was curious if it was just the character of “Cookie” or the persona of Taraji that I found so grating … but the more I saw interviews with Ms. Henson (esp. this weekend’s Emmy telecast), her need to be stroked and adored (“Look at me, look at me!”) just totally is a turn-off to me and I couldn’t stomach a series where she played such a prominent role.)

Jonboy
Jonboy

Wow! Cookie makes the whole show IMO.

Geoffrey-Martin Cyr
Geoffrey-Martin Cyr

Yeah; I guess that’s my whole point. The fact that that character/actress is so heavily spotlighted is a real testament to how television has changed to now showcase and celebrate badly-behaved, morally-corrupted ‘role models’ who are given a platform to spin-out and implode to the amusement of the greater masses. It’s where we’ve landed as a society, and I fuilly ‘get’ I’m in the silent minority on this. Until the tide shifts, we’ll continue to see more HOUSEWIVES, Kardashians and Duck Dynasty litter our screens and appeal to the basest forms of society. (I guess we’ll see if the ratings reflect their success of if viewers eventually tire of this sort of ‘entertainment’…)

Jeremy
Jeremy

yup, Cookie/Taraji IS EMPIRE. she’s brilliant. can’t wait for S2.

Jonboy
Jonboy

I hardly compare a scripted series to reality garbage.

Torqumada
Torqumada

Love this show. The cast the writing EVERYTHING.

I worry that it will suffer from too many guest stars and stunts. Great characters need room to maneuver.

su0000
su0000

An Empire fan here ! 🙂
The first season will be its’ highest ratings. Seems that is the way it rolls.
but- Empire will always be up and doing very well.
With Empire it is the younger viewers, the demo the sponsors crave.
Most older people will not be that into Empire, my grandma would not like it, not at all lol
Empire will a have high 18-40 demo.. and it doesn’t get any better than that..

Jonboy
Jonboy

Not thrilled that they feel the need for all these guest stars (Al Sharpton? Really?)

su0000
su0000

huh?
Al Sharpton? really?
that is so lame lol
twitter will let it be known ..

Jane
Jane

Why does it need ALL the hype IF it’s floored everyone. My show is the middle to watch oh and Blood and Oil.

su0000
su0000

Empire gets the ”hype” because it HAS ”floored everyone” ..

looking forward to ”Blood and Oil” , also..
Looks like a great fall season..

((June and Ward Cleaver RIP ..

penny
penny

It delivered! I love this show and the WHOLE cast. Cookie is my favorite because Taraji is so great at portraying her. She’s the sweetest person in real life but a tigress on the show. I love how real she is in interviews. You get the real deal with Taraji not some fake persona just to please people who don’t give two shyts about you.

Anacarrie
Anacarrie

I agree, Penny. Taraji rocks!

k/kay
k/kay

I have never watched this show but I do know this when you have actors who demonstrate bad behavior think Terrance Howard beating up all his wives it tends to turn people off. When a actor or a politician or a athlete shows bad character it does it for me I am done no matter how good you are at what you do.

Geoffrey-Martin Cyr
Geoffrey-Martin Cyr

Exactly, k/kay … you hit it on the head for me: no matter how talented actresses Taraji Henson, Kerry Washington or Jane Lynch may be, their collective ball-busting, in-your-face, aggressive unpolished personas so totally turn me off, I will NEVER watch anything any of them do. JMO (I get that that group has a LOT of fans, but I ain’t one of them…)

Anacarrie
Anacarrie

I love the show and the cast. It is my weekly guilty pleasure. More, more, more!

Empire

‘Empire’ Final Season: Official Word No Jussie Smollett, Vivica A Fox To Series Regular, Spin-Offs Possible After Series Concludes

Plenty of news coming out of the Fox TCA panels and executive session.  Most notable was drama surrounding the sixth and final season of the sudsy Empire.

According to Fox CEO Charlie Collier when talk of potential spin-offs of the series came up: “We’re in the Lee Daniels and Danny Strong business — if there is more story to tell we want to hear it.”  Collier, referencing the series creators.

Photo: JPI

Collier also noted that a big send-off is planned for the series as its heads to its final episodes.  In addition, the CEO officially revealed after all the speculation that Jussie Smollett (Ex-Jamal Lyon), would not be returning to Empire for its final season.

Charlie noted, “There’s no plan for Jussie to return.”  Smollett got in trouble with the law in Chicago back in January, over an alleged hate crime, the actor claimed was perpetrated on him, when later he was charged for setting the whole thing up himself, and later those charges later dropped,   But Jussie’s problems with the Windy City are continuing hot and heavy this week.

Finally, soap opera favorite, Vivica A. Fox (Generations, DAYS) has been upped to series regular in her role as Candace.  As Empire viewers know, Candace is the older sister to Cookie Lyon, played by Taraji P. Henson.

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So, would you like to see an Empire spin-off?  Happy or sad that Jussie Smollett is not coming back to the series before it says goodbye/ Looking forward to more Vivica? Comment below.

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Empire

Jussie Smollett Will Not Return To ‘Empire’ Relates Lee Daniels; 911 Call Released Of His Alleged Attack

The co-creator of Fox’s sudsy Empire, Lee Daniels, confirmed yesterday that actor/singer Jussie Smollett will not return to the series for its final season, after the renewal pick-up of the show’s sixth and final season was announced, where it left Smollett’s fate with the series a big ambiguous.

How the final blow of any possibility of Smollett’s return came to light was when Daniels was responding to a Variety report in which multiple production sources said that writing staff was breaking ideas for the final season with the expectation that Smollett would appear in the back half of the 18 planned episodes. However, Daniels strongly expressed upon that item that: “Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire.”

Smollett was written out of the final episodes of the show’s fifth season in the aftermath and backlash stemming from that he faked a hate crime against himself earlier this year in Chicago.

In addition on Wednesday, the city of Chicago (TMZ had already beat them to it) released 911 calls where a friend of Smollett’s called for help following his alleged attack.  A man (later identified as Smollett’s manager, Frank Gatson) said he “works with an artist” told the  operator that the victim did not want to file a report with authorities, but he was going to ‘make’ him.”

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The caller added that the victim said the attackers put a noose around his neck expressing: “What’s really weird ma’m, just ‘cus I’m scared and I don’t know what it is, they put a noose around his neck.  They didn’t do anything with it, but put it around his neck. That’s pretty f—d up to me — sorry for saying it like that.”

A second 911 call was apparently made 15 minutes later after the police had not yet responded to the first call, where the caller said about Smollett, “He was jumped on the street and we’re just trying to report it.”

So, what do you think of the news that Smollett is definitely out of the final season of Empire? What do you think of the 911 call? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Breaking News

‘Empire’ Will End Its Run After Upcoming Sixth Season

Fox has announced during Monday’s pre-upfront call with the media that Empire’s upcoming sixth season (they just got renewed for that season just the other week) will ultimately be its last.

Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier expressed: “We are turning the final season into a large TV event — we are trying to go out guns a-blazing. You allow fans to lean in and have the ending they deserve.”

The final season will consist of 20 episodes.

As to whether Jussie Smollett would coming back for the show’s last hurrah, Collier only would say, “At this point, we have no plans for that.”   He also noted the writer’s room has not even been put in place for the new season.

Previously, Fox Entertainment along with 20th Century Fox Television extended Smollett’s option for the upcoming sixth season, but at that time also stated there were no plan for him to re-appear on-screen as Jamal.

Smollett claimed that he was the victim of an assault based hate crime, but later was accused of hiring two men to attack him and was indicted for filing false police reports/statements.  Fast-forward, the criminal charges were dropped in March, and Smollett has maintained his innocence.

As a result of all the bad publicity cast on Smollett and more, the series decided to cut Smollett out of the final two episodes of the 5th season.

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'Empire' Final Season: Official Word No Jussie Smollett, Vivica A Fox To Series Regular, Spin-Offs Possible After Series Concludes

So, sad to hear Empire will end after its next season, or do you think its time for the hip hop drama to go? Comment below.

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