Starring Terrence Howard as hip hop music mogul Lucious Lyon and Taraji P. Henson as his determined ex-wife Cookie, “Empire” hails from Lee Daniels, Danny Strong and Brian Grazer. The idea? “Let’s do ‘King Lear,’ in a hip hop empire with a touch of ‘Dynasty,'” from Strong.
“I never thought I’d be here,” said Daniels ahead of the screening, “and I’m having the time of my life.”
“Show me your soul in this music,” says Lyon in the opening scene of the pilot, setting up the theme of the episode as his character tackles the drama of running a music empire as his ex-wife is released from prison, demanding her due, all while facing his mortality. As Lyon staunchly refuses to accept imperfection, he realizes that he must select one of his three sons as heir to the Empire throne.
Making the jump from film to television was “the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Daniels. The director noted the challenge of telling a shorter, yet still-as-effective story, and made a point of thanking the team at Fox, including heads Dana Walden and Gary Newman. “You can’t do it without the support team,” he said.
Following the pilot screening, guests gathered for drinks and conversation to celebrate the new series. “Empire” is set to premiere in January, potentially at some point behind “American Idol,” and will run for 12 episodes.
(Pictured: Lee Daniels, Brian Grazer, Dana Walden, Gary Newman and Danny Strong at the “Empire” screening)