TVLine is reporting that an Empire spinoff focusing on Taraji P. Henson’s Cookie Lyon is being put into development at Fox, with the project being part of the actresses two-year first-look deal with 20th Century Fox TV.
The Empire series initially focused on Lucious Lyon, a hip-hop mogul, former drug dealer and CEO of Empire Entertainment, who began grooming one of his three sons to take over the family business – Empire CFO Andre, R’n’B singer-songwriter Jamal, and rapper Hakeem – in the process, pitting them against each other. Whilst that’s going on, Lucious’ ex-wife Cookie Lyon is released from prison after serving a seventeen-year sentence, and also pulls for control of Empire Entertainment and of her sons.
Empire concluded its six season run back in April, but had its run shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with production halting in March when the show was shooting its nineteenth episode of its twenty-episode order, meaning that episode eighteen served as the series finale. Danny Strong, who co-created Empire with Lee Daniels, has expressed his desire and hope that they’d be allowed to give Empire its proper conclusion, saying:
We had an ending for the series planned that we all loved, and hopefully someday we’ll be able to film it and give the series its proper conclusion. Here’s hoping this isn’t the end!
Taraji P. Henson’s portraying of Cookie Lyon has earned her three Emmy nominations as well as a Golden Globe in 2016 for Best Actress in a Television Series Drama. The deal will see Taraji P. Henson and her own production company, TPH Entertainment, develop project for the studio across multiple platforms, with Christine Conley set to run the company by her side. Henson released a statement about the first-look deal, saying:
I believe that normalising stories around stigmatising matters will make them more palatable for audiences to embrace. Art can change perception and I plan to develop projects that can help further the conversation. I also aim to help cultivate and establish new young talent and their stories because they are our future and deserve a voice and a platform to be heard. I’m so excited to have 20th, led by the talented Carolyn Cassidy, support me in this new endeavour.
20th Century Fox TV President, Carolyn Cassidy, also released a statement adding:
We were lucky to have a front row seat to Taraji’s meteoric rise as a fixture on television through Empire. Through that relationship everyone at the company grew to appreciate her passion for storytelling and her strong creative gut instinct. With ‘Empire finished we look forward to helping her explore stories that need to be told through her talent and advocacy.
Details about the spinoff series are currently unknown at this time, other than it will be a continuation of what’s next for Cookie and, should it be ordered to pilot, Henson will serve as producer on the project, while Danny Strong, Yolanda Lawrence and Stacy Littlejohn will serve as co-showrunners.