The Latest On Lee Daniel’s “Empire” A Potential Runaway Hit Or Epic Flop
Empire is one of the most anticipated shows to come out of this year’s television pilot season for Black audiences, and if it isn’t, that’s probably just because the show isn’t on everyone’s radar yet. The project has a superstar cast that includes veterans such as Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard, as well as young up-and-coming Black actors like Jussie Smollett. Tasha Smith and Malik Yoba (Why Did I Get Married Too) have been reported as season one guest stars. Black musicians, including Macy Gray and Timbaland, have also been linked to the project. Timbaland will produce the show’s music, while Gray will be a character in the series. Empire has a hip-hop/musical theme, so the list of talented Black musicians should be expected to grow if the show stays on the air.
The cast isn’t the only highlight of Empire. Film director Lee Daniels (The Butler, Precious) is switching gears to helm the small screen series. He’s joined by Danny Scrub, screenwriter of The Butler, and executive producer Brian Grazer. There is an abundant flow of expensive power and talent concentrated in this project.
Are you wondering what Empire is all about? According to the official description, “the prospective series is a unique family drama set in the world of a hip-hop and centering on music mogul Lucious Lyon. ” The show will focus on characters played by Taraji P. Henson and Terrance Howard. THR has provided summaries for some of the key characters:
Howard will play Lucious Lyon, a “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.”
Cookie (Henson) is “a sexy, over-the-top force who has spent 17 years in prison for dealing drugs — money she funneled directly to Lucious’s fledging music empire. Now she’s been released early for good behavior and wants what’s hers.”
Jamal (Smollett) is” a 24-year-old sensitive young man and musical prodigy who could rise to stardom if he desired to. As a gay man, he’s been rejected and judged by his father since childhood — which may explain why he steers clear of fame and prefers to keep his music “pure.”
Macy Gray will recur as “Tasha, a woman having an affair with the much-younger Hakeem Lyon, over whom she exercises considerable influence and control.”
So is there any conceivable way a series with this much force behind it will fail? It’s possible. The show is setting us up with high expectations. Sure no promises have been made, but the names of those involved in the project speak for themselves. If we don’t see our expectations met within the first episode, the show could be doomed. That would truly be a waste. Do you think Empire will be a run away hit, or a flop from day one?