Have you enjoyed the Empire guest stars this season? Do you agree that there’s one special performer who can arguably take the already successful show to the next level?
Beyoncé Oprah might be closer to linking up with Cookie than you think.In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, co-creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong (yes, Doyle from Gilmore Girls) revealed some of what they’re cooking up for the second season — and yes, it involves the billionaire media queen.
Here’s what to expect on Empire’s second season:
1. The show will be back sooner rather than later.
Fox has clearly benefited from Empire’s ratings explosion over the past 10 weeks. Rather than risk losing some of the momentum with a midseason return (like it did after long hiatuses for season two of The Following and Sleepy Hollow), the network expects to have Empire on the schedule before 2016.
2. There’ll be more than 12 episodes.
Season 1 ends next week after a total of 12 episodes; anything less just won’t do. The co-creators feel slightly different about how many episodes there should be in total, and at least one of them is prepared to fight to get his way:
Co-creator Danny Strong says he’s OK with an increased order — given the nature of the storytelling and original music, it won’t be a full 22 — but Daniels is vocal about his desire to stay at 12, even suggesting he’ll fight an increase: “Bring it on”
3. The cast will hit the road.
Like American Idol and Glee, Empire will likely take its songs (and performers) on tour. The chances of launching a live show in the immediate hiatus are slim, but don’t rule it out for 2016. (Can you imagine seeing kids dance to “Drip Drop” in Des Moines? We are so there.)
4. There’ll be new writers.
But it’s not an Aaron Sorkin a la Newsroom season two. “I wanted to bring in some playwrights because we have these delicious soap turns but we also have very layered character development,” Strong told THR, which also notes he’s been looking at hiring more African-American writers.
5. We’ll get a deeper dive into Lucious and Cookie’s pre-Empire days
So far we’ve gotten flashbacks to the Philly home Lucious and Cookie shared, a look at some of his earliest hits, and the moments that shaped his sons (Lucious stuffing Jamal in a garbage can; Cookie heading off to prison). We’re still confused as to what exactly Lucious’ musical style is, or what got Cookie locked up for 17 years, so any chance to further unveil the family history is welcome. A flashback featuring Puma (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) performing the love song (“Up All Night”) he wrote for Cookie will do, too.
According to THR, Daniels wants to showcase the lives of the Lyons before they found fame. “I think we’ve seen the opulence, but now we have to go back to where they come from.”
6. Oprah might be joining the cast.
After a first season that’s welcomed Naomi Campbell, Courtney Love, Derek Luke, Estelle, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, and Jennifer Hudson, season two is positioned to have even more starpower. Spike Lee is interested in directing an episode, and Daniels has called his Butler star on repeat:
Daniels cops to logging multiple calls to pal Oprah Winfrey to try to get her on the show.
“I tell him: ’Lee, it’s not enough that you’ve taken every viewer possible on Wednesday night. Now you want me to leave my own network?'” says Winfrey, to which Daniels howls with laughter, “I’m wearing her down!”
I mean, if you had a hit show, why wouldn’t you ask Oprah to guest star? It’s also interesting to find out that Macy Gray — a name that’s confused any Empire fan who’s casually perused the show’s Wikipedia page late into the night — was intended to guest star in season one, only to have her storyline scrapped when she displayed “erratic behavior” on set.
UPDATE: 3/13/2015 Lee Daniels has answered our prayers. Daniels told Access Hollywood that he’s writing roles for both Oprah and Common for the upcoming season. “Yes. Yeah, she’s gonna be on it,” Daniels said of Queen O. (Common, it seems, may not have previously known he was invited to join the show. But who’s going to say no to an Oscar nominee?) Watch the latest interview below.
We may be biased, but we have our own idea of who should guest star in season two.
[Photo Credit: FOX, Getty Images]