Remote Controlled: Ilene Chaiken Talks ‘Empire’ Spinoff: ‘You Might Hear Something in the Very Near Future’

Ilene Chaiken Remote Controlled Podcast

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front and behind the camera.

In this week’s episode, Variety TV reporter Elizabeth Wagmeister talks with “Empire” showrunner and executive producer Ilene Chaiken about the show’s chart-topping ratings, new characters being introduced (including Demi Moore), as well as the possibility of a spinoff.

“Empire,” which just kicked off the back-half of its third season this week, returned as the broadcast king, bringing in nearly 8 million viewers overnight.

Asked if she pays attention to numbers, Chaiken says, “You can’t get away from them. I’m certainly aware of them. I try not to pay attention to them because when your ratings are great, you celebrate them and say, ‘Our ratings are great and they’re the most important thing in the world,’ and then if you dip, you say, ‘Oh, I don’t care about ratings!’ We try to make a great show. We want the audience to keep on loving it. Of course, we are happy when the numbers are going up and up and up, but we’re just going to keep on trying to tell great stories that the audience love and hope that they find us in all the different ways that audiences find their television shows.”

Ilene Chaiken photographed exclusively for the Variety Remote Controlled podcast
Dan Doperalski for Variety

With its huge ratings, the Fox juggernaut has been at the center of spinoff rumors, fueled largely by co-creator Lee Daniels speaking to the press about the idea.

Chaiken now confirms that a spinoff truly may be in the works.

“There is certainly a possibility and there are various conversations ongoing about what that spinoff might be — you might hear about something in the very near future,” Chaiken reveals. Asked about the potential plot, she replies, “What I will tease is there’s a story we’re telling in the second half of the season that promises a spinoff. It’s not character-based, but it gives us a world for a spinoff, and that’s one possibility…Stay tuned.”

Ilene Chaiken photographed exclusively for the Variety Remote Controlled podcast
Dan Doperalski for Variety

As for a crossover with Lee Daniels’ other Fox series, “Star,” Chaiken says nothing is in the works at the moment, but the potential stands.

“We haven’t talked about any other crossovers, but it’s always a possibility. They’re both shows that are set in the real world and about people that make music,” she explains.

You can listen to this week’s episode here:

New episodes of Remote Controlled are available every Friday.


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