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Fox has passed up an opportunity for a spinoff of its popular series “Empire “of its beloved character of Cookie Lyon, played by Golden Globe winner Taraji P. Henson.
Empire ran for six seasons on the network, but its last season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic and the scandal surrounding Jussie Smollett did not help matters.
News of the spinoff first surfaced back in July, as part of a first-look deal Henson had signed with studio 20th Television.
In March, Henson spoke to ABC Audio about the show’s end.
“It’s, like, bittersweet,” Henson said. “What else can I do with Cookie? She’s iconic. It’s one of those characters that will live on long after I’m gone. And it’s like, you want to go out on top. But it’s still bittersweet. Bitter because, you know, for five, six seasons, I knew where my paychecks were coming from.
Smollett exited the show after he allegedly staged his own hate-crime attack in January 2019. Series co-creator Lee Daniels announced that Smollett would not be returning for the sixth and final season.
Henson was in favor of Smollett making an appearance in the sixth season.
“We have to see Jussie. I feel like there’s really no way to wrap this show up without him,” she said at the time. “He was such…and is, such an integral part of the show. And we miss him dearly. That character was very important to our show, especially for the LGBT community,” she continues. “So we’re trying to keep him alive without him being there. I know Cookie is…[Be]cause that was her baby. Still is her baby.”
“And he my baby still in real life,” she added.