55th Monte Carlo TV Festival : Day 3

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Terrence Howard‘s Lucious Lyon isn’t the most popular character on Empire. Taraji P. Henson‘s Cookie is. But Lucious is one of the show’s central figures, so his reduced role this season after being sent to prison will be felt. However, the reason for his reduced role might not be just a plot device.

The auspicious first season of Empire revived Howard’s domestic violence history: he was arrested in 2001 for a violent attack on his estranged first wife and was accused by his ex-wife and ex-girlfriend of assault in 2011 and 2012. The New York Post reported that Howard’s role was dialed back because of these allegations and his ongoing divorce.

“What they are doing is two-fold,” said the New York Post‘s source. “They have him locked up so you won’t be seeing him in as many scenes. But they are bringing in so many, and I mean so many, guest stars and cameos that the average viewer won’t realize it because there is so much going on.”

The source frames this as a win-win situation: Howard gets the heat off him and the fans get wowed by guest stars. The line-up this season includes Chris RockMariah CareyLudacris and Alicia Keys. Also, there’s going to be a lot more Cookie.

“She’s going to start dropping off from the flashback scenes and then they’re going to have her guns blazing,” said the source.

FOX didn’t confirm what the source is saying. Regardless, Empire‘s second season hits the small screen on Sept. 23.

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