Season 2 of Fox TV’s hit soap opera musical Empire took a big hit on Wednesday. Ratings tumbled from episode 1’s 16 million viewers to just over 13 million viewers in the second week. That’s the lowest viewing audience since episode 2 of season 1.

Twitter users mocked Empire for jacking scenes from HBO’s The Wire and indie film Hustle & Flow, starring Terrence Howard, who plays Lucius Lyon on Empire.

Insiders say FOX executives are busy fielding calls from nervous advertisers who paid upwards of $650,000 for a 30-second commercial spot in upcoming episodes.

Execs are scrambling to fix Empire‘s anemnic script and viewer complaints of too many pointless cameos by bandwagon jumping celebrities and wannabes like CNN anchor Don Lemon.

One insider told exclusively that FOX execs blame Empire creator Lee Daniels (center) for underestimating his viewing audience.

The insider whispered that Daniels, who is openly gay, dumbed down the role of actor Bryshere Gray (who plays Hakeem) because he took offense to the rapper telling a blogger he wasn’t gay.

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