LOS ANGELES• Family conflicts, tempestuous romances and power struggles made hip-hop show Empire the highest-rated new hit for Fox this year and viewers can expect a lot more salacious drama in season two.
"If season one was built on the premise of 'who will inherit the throne?', season two is 'warring kingdoms'," executive producer and writer Ilene Chaiken says.
Empire returns to Twenty-First Century Fox's broadcast network on Wednesday, after drawing an average of 17.3 million viewers an episode in season one earlier this year.
The debut season followed the Lyon family as they attempted to cement their power in the world of hip hop. Empire centres on drug runner-turned music mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), who pits his three sons against one another with the promise that one will inherit his record company, Empire Entertainment.
But it is the show's intensely ambitious, prison-hardened, aggressive matriarch Cookie Lyon who has stood out, with actress Taraji P. Henson earning one of the show's three Emmy nominations in the Best Drama Actress category.
"In a matter of moments, (Henson) can go from the most raucous and flamboyant to the most heartwarming and touching," Chaiken says. "This character hasn't been on television before."
The show failed to pick up a Best Drama series Emmys nod, but was nominated twice in the costume category.
The second season picks up three months after season one left off. Lyon is in prison on a murder charge, while his son Jamal (Jussie Smollett) is running his company.
Chaiken says the changing power dynamics in the family will bring out new sides of the characters as relationships evolve.
The show's trend of featuring celebrity cameos will continue with a line-up that includes Oscar-winning Marisa Tomei, comedian Chris Rock and Grammy-winning R&B artist Alicia Keys.