The smash success of Fox’s Empire, bolstered by equally impressive debut ratings for Season 2, would inevitably spur talk of a potential spinoff series. We’ve heard a few rumblings before, but talks between Fox and creator Lee Daniels may now be heating up, placing a new Empire on the throne as early as next year, with seeds planted this season.

According to Vulture, Fox boss Dana Walden seems confident that any potential Empire spinoff would serve more purpose than to milk the flagship program’s success, rather finding its own worthwhile story (talk of a young Cookie has not been decided on). So while Fox and Lee Daniels develop the right idea, the network may look to lay the groundwork with Empire Season 2, and move to spin off as quickly as fall 2016:

If there’s a character … that feels original enough, has enough momentum and enough of a storytelling engine, we will definitely look to spin Empire off for next season. [That character] would, in all likelihood, appear in the second half of this season. […]

We just want to make sure the right idea presents itself to the creators, and that it’s not something that feels forced or fabricated. And we’re not going to rush anything. We want the writers to stay focused on making a great season of Empire this year.

To be clear, any Empire spinoff would take a different form than Lee Daniels’ other music-themed Fox project Star, following the rise of an all-girl trio in the Atlanta music scene. Fox has played coy about the potential for crossover, while Walden notes that a draft of the pilot script has already made the rounds.

Empire will almost surely cement development of a spinoff before long, but how should Season 2 handle the setup, if it goes to series in fall 2016?

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