*Was Lucious Lyon’s imprisonment in “Empire” written as a way to lessen the screen time of Terrence Howard in season two?
A source tells Page Six that Howard’s role in the upcoming season will be scaled back because of his recent divorce drama and numerous prior allegations of domestic abuse, which have resurfaced in recent weeks through court testimony.
In “Empire’s’ season one cliffhanger, Lucious was arrested for murder and sent to jail, but according to the Page Six source, it’s more than a storyline — it’s a calculated move to keep Howard on the sidelines.
“What they are doing is two-fold,” said the 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.”
Stars booked to appear so far include Mariah Carey, Pitbull, Chris Rock, Ludacris, Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz and Marisa Tomei
Other changes are also in store for the musical drama: Taraji P. Henson’s role as Cookie Lyon will be pushed to the forefront, the insider adds.
“She’s going to start dropping off from the flashback scenes and then they’re going to have her guns blazing,” said the source, who added that it’s a mistake to take away Cookie’s humility.
In recent weeks, Howard’s been involved in a nasty court battle to have his 2012 divorce settlement with his second wife, Michelle Ghent, overturned. Allegations of domestic abuse from his first wife Lori McCommas and ex-girlfriend May Seng Yang have also come back into the spotlight in recent weeks. Not to mention a secret divorce from his third wife, Mira Pak, which made headlines earlier this month.
Fox had no comment about Howard’s changing role on “Empire.”