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Lee Daniels’ hip-hop, urban flavored drama ‘Empire’ picked up by Fox

Director Lee Daniels attends 13th Annual AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards Gala at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on February 10, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.
(Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

A new hip-hop drama is headed to Fox this fall. On Tuesday, the network announced it has picked up the Lee Daniels’ drama, “Empire,” slated for the 2014-15 season. Daniels will also be making his TV directing debut with the project.

The Oscar-nominated director penned the script for “Empire,” along with Danny Strong. Both men will also serve as executive producers for the drama set in the world of a hip-hop empire featuring original music by Timberland, who will write and produce the music for the drama. The project as nabbed Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon and “Hustle & Flow” star Terrence Howard as Lucius Lyon, the head of a record label at the center of all the soap opera type drama that will go on in this small world.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Daniels described the drama as hip-hop version of “Nashville” with “Dynasty” type drama. He says, “Actually, it’s more like ‘Nashville.’ And ‘The Sopranos,’ because there is not much violence. And ‘Dynasty.’ I wanted to make a black ‘Dynasty.’ You sit there and go, ‘No, this b**ch didn’t! Oh my f**ing God!”

Needless to say, the drama will be a bit different than “The Butler,” and producing content to fit in with broadcast television regulations will be a challenge for Daniels, but it is a challenge he said he is looking forwards to because it will give him a chance to push himself even further as a director and a producer.

The drama will also make people think as it will be “making statement about sexuality, the African-American experience, what happens when you come from extreme poverty and hit it big and you’re a billionaire,” and it will also expose the realities of jail life.

Besides Howard and Henson, the “Empire” cast also includes Gabby Sidibe, Jussie Smollet, Malik Yoba, Kaitlin Doubleday, Trai Byers, Grace Gealey and Tasha Smith. Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo will executive produce alongside Daniels and Strong.

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