Lee Daniels and Brian Grazier's new offering Empire, a television drama dealing with a hip hop family dynasty, stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson as an embittered and formerly married couple vying for the control of a thriving music corporation. Empire somehow seems better placed on Starz or HBO, and I mean that as a compliment, in that the level of drama and chaos, the return of bankable movie stars to the small screen, the presence of Lee Daniels and Brian Grazer as well as the depiction of subject matter largely explored with different formats, all count as maneuvers more predictably typical of the pay services. However, FOX has offered a worthy contender in the ring of pugilism. Let's discuss!
The series debuts tonight as part of FOX's new Wednesday night line up and features themes common in Daniel's childhood including navigating a hostile living environment with a sometimes cruel and homophobic father who disapproved of his son's sexuality and a mother who protected him fiercely.
Taraji plays Cookie Lyon, the matriarch of the family who founds a music company on an investment raised alone. She is then sent to prison. Terrence Howard plays Lucious Lyon, the patriarch who remains behind to build the company over a number of years. At the beginning of the pilot episode, he has built a successful music company with a public offering on the table. So ensues the drama.
The couple's three sons -- Trai Byers as Andre Lyon, Jussie Smollett as Jamal Lyon and Bryshere Gray as Hakeem Lyon -- round out the cast each vying for positions at the head of the table. Henson returns from prison to steak her claim with the company she began and, let's just say, its on and cracking from there.
Episode one is full of excitement, features great music and a surprising performance by Smollett family clan member Jussie (Jurnee's little brother) who plays the musically gifted middle son and producer.
The series is written by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, and the pilot is directed by Daniels.
I visited the set to chat with Terrence Howard about the new show below. Take a look and be sure to check out Empire debuting on Fox tonight.