The television show “Empire” is one of the most popular and successful shows on the small screen today. The story of a hip-hop music mogul and the drama that runs in his family has captured an audience any station would be envious of.
Yet, what many people don’t know is that the concept of the show — from the background story to, most importantly, the idea of an almost all-Black leading role ensemble — was the brainchild of a White guy: Danny Strong.
Strong, who is most famously known for the characters he played in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as Jonathan Levinson and “Gilmore Girls” as Doyle, said that the idea for “Empire” came to him almost out of nowhere.
“It’s so random how [Empire] came about. I was driving in a car in Los Angeles … and there was a story on the radio about Puffy and some deal that he closed. I don’t remember what the news story was, but hearing the news story, I thought, ‘Hip-hop is so cool! I wanna do something with hip-hop!’ That was literally my mind set,” Strong said.
He imagined the show would be like a movie “with a father who was a Jay Z/Puffy-esque hip-hop mogul” with a supporting cast of Shakespearean archetypes thrown into the mix.
“The whole concept flooded into my head in about 30 seconds,” Strong says.
During the post-production of “The Butler,” he decided to get Lee Daniels sold on the idea. He loved it, but Daniels also thought it would work better as a TV show instead of a musical movie.
“We instantly started talking about ‘Dynasty’ and ‘Dallas’ and if we could do a Black ‘Dynasty,'” Strong said. “So the only thing that’s pretty interesting about this is that literally ‘Empire’ was created from every single first idea that happened spontaneously. So, it was, ‘We should do it as a TV show!’ ‘Yeah, we like ‘Dynasty’!’ ‘Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, like, a Black ‘Dynasty’!'”
From the looks of it, “Empire” might exceed the levels of popularity that the two shows it was birthed from once had.
Date Posted: Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 , Total Page Views: 739
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