Lee Daniels has smacked his name on a TV series for the first time, for FOX’s new drama “Empire,” and a fresh trailer has arrived with the news. The “sexy and powerful new drama” stars Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Trai Byers, Jussie Smollett and newcomer Bryshere Gray, a family affair with a powerful music company Empire Entertainment in its center.

Howard plays the delectably named Lucious Lyon, a hip-hop titan who got his start in the streets. He has three sons — Hakeem, Jamal and Andre — and a vicious ex-wife Cookie (Henson). They all get along famously and never fight and share the wealth equally, the end.

Just kidding, this family looks like it has 99 problems… but it’s soundtrack ain’t one. Hitmaker Timbaland is on deck composing original music written and heading up music supervision for the show, so you can at least count on some rhymes and lines while the swords come out. The show is by Lee Daniels and Emmy Award winner Danny Strong, who worked together on “The Butler.” Daniels directed the pilot.

Here are four more things you should know about this show, based on new info and the pilot:

1 Lucious has only three years to live.

“Music save my life.” Sure, but music is no cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease, which Howard’s character is diagnosed with early in the clip. He’s told he may have less than the three year sentence, so depending on how much time transpires over a season, we may be looking at a limited lifetime of Howard on the show.

2 All three of Lucious’ sons have strikes against them.

Lucious has issued the directive that one of his three sons is to inherit the music throne when he’s gone. His youngest Hakeem is a talented musician, but the lazy playboy type; Jamal is a prodigy, too, but he’s gay and his father thinks it’s a “choice”; and eldest Andre is already the CFO of the co., but lacks the charisma that daddy wants in his mini-mogul.

3 The ex-con ex-wife is after the throne.

Let’s just take a minute and appreciate the fact that Henson’s character’s name is Cookie… OK, good. Kim, errr, Cookie has her own empiric talents, though she’s been wasting away in the pokey for crimes it seems Lucious’ company committed. She helped launch Empire and is out of jail early and ready to get what’s hers: half the company. And she’s got her favorite next-of-kin, too.

4 There is a secret looming over the company that would kill it dead.

Lucious is keeping a dirty ditty from the public that would dust the Empire — who among his sons know? As he grooms successors, he’s got to keep face. Could it be that Empire has no legs to stand on, despite the relative slew of next-in-liners (and their girlfriends, and their assistants, and their friends)?

“Empire” will premiere this fall on FOX.

DELUX Magazine
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