‘Empire’ Season 2 splits in two, adds Ne-Yo to songwriting team

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FOX launched the biggest drama hit in years earlier this year in “Empire,” so it’s no surprise that the network wants the show back on the air in the fall, and with more episodes.

That’s all going to happen in Season 2, along with a move to split the season into two parts. The network hopes to put an end to “erratic scheduling,” as chairman and CEO Gary Newman called it Monday (May 11) on a conference call with reporters, by splitting several of its dramas into two blocks: a fall run that will end with a cliffhanger and a spring run.

“Empire” Season 2 will run for 18 episodes in the same Wednesday timeslot where it dominated the ratings earlier this year. Dana Walden, Newman’s fellow FOX chairman and CEO, says they met with creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong recently to discuss the first part of Season 2, and “the stories we’ve heard … are going to blow away the audience.”

Walden also says a number of “amazing guest stars” have been lined up for Season 2. She’s not dropping any names at the moment but says those guests could help draw some new fans in addition to the huge existing audience.

Finally, R&B star Ne-Yo will join the show’s music team for the second season. He’ll work alongside returning producer Timbaland on “Empire’s” original songs.

Season 2 of “Empire” will air at 9 p.m. ET/PT Wednesdays in the fall.