The Fox network has given a series order to Empire, the hip-hop family drama project fromThe Butler‘s Lee Daniels (director and producer) and Danny Strong (writer). The series stars The Best Man Holiday actor Terrence Howard as a Jay Z-like music mogul.
Howard’s character is named Lucious. The show’s release states, “Lucious is described as charismatic, tough, wise and a superstar in the music industry who oversees Empire Entertainment and is about to take the company public. Raised on the streets, he has never backed away from a fight and will resort to any measures, fair or foul, to defend his beloved Empire.” The cast also includes Person of Interest’s Taraji P. Henson and Gabourey Sidibe, Oscar nominee for Precious. Henson and Howard costarred in the 2005 movie Hustle & Flow.
Empire will feature both original and current music. Grammy Award-winning Tim “Timbaland” Mosley wrote the music for the pilot. In addition to Daniels and Strong, Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo are also executive producers.
This week marks the busiest deal-making week of the year for broadcast networks. The network upfront presentations to advertisers start in seven days. Most of the decisions whether to renew and cancel bubble shows, as well as which pilots are getting series orders are made during this week.
Fox has picked up a few other shows in the last few days. Yesterday they announced that they acquired Gotham, a Batman prequel series. Gotham stars Ben McKenzie (Southland) as young detective James Gordon who battles an array of emerging villains in Gotham City. Fox has ordered at least 13 episodes of the show.
Another show picked up: Red Band Society, starring Octavia Spencer. The dramedy is about a group of teenager patients in the children’s wing of a hospital who become allies and friends. The show also stars Brothers & Sisters actor Dave Annable and Steven Spielberg is one of the comedic soap’s executive producers.
(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)