Is Fox’s “Empire” A Remake of UPN’s “Platinum”?
In 2003, UPN network produced a real life hip hop rappers series called “Platinum”. Written by John Ridley & Sofia Coppola, the story line was a family saga that follows two brothers who in the competitive world of Rap and Hip Hop owned and operated a record company called “WSweatback Entertainment.” The show revolved around a pair of brothers who were record industry moguls Jackson and Grady Rhames, (Jason George played Jackson Rhames and Sticky Fingaz played Grady Rhames) who were the archetype of rags-to-riches success after building their company, “Platinum Records,” from the ground up. Clawing their way up from the streets, the brothers created a successful record company in the high-stakes hip-hop music business. Though they were deeply trusting of and dependent upon one another, each approached business in starkly contrasting fashion.
Platinum was set in New York against the backdrop of the glamorous hip-hop lifestyle – a cutthroat and sometimes dangerous business notorious for its flashy stars with money to burn and ruthless record executives who stop at nothing to make it big. Standing by the brothers’ side was their childhood friend and chief counsel David Weitz, their younger sister Jade Rhames and Jackson’s wife Monica Rhames. However, after starting with a near record-breaking ratings, the shows Nielson status plummeted and ultimately it was cancelled. In addition, through much controversy, boycotts from various urban organizations, the show was pulled because it supposedly did not represent the black community and only focused on the negative side of the music business. I disagreed then… and still today. Platinum was a real eye opener and definitely a part of the black culture. Perhaps too soon for that era of prime time tv. Perhaps it should have moved to cable.
Tonight, Fox TV begins its’ upgraded “Empire” Series with true star power. From Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “Precious”) and Emmy Award winner Danny Strong (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “Game Change”), comes a sexy and powerful new drama about the head of a music empire whose three sons and ex-wife all battle for his throne. Hip-hop artist and CEO of Empire Entertainment, Lucious Lyon, has always ruled unchallenged, but a medical diagnosis predicts he will be incapacitated in three years, which prompts the sharks to circle. Without further damaging his family, he must decide which of his three sons will take over. His favorite, young Hakeem, is a gifted musician but values fame over hard work. Middle son, Jamal, is talented and shy but gay — embarrassing to Lyon. The oldest, Andre, is business-minded but lacks charisma. The reappearance of Cookie, his ex-wife, complicates things; she says he owes her for taking the fall for the drug-running that financed his early career. “Empire” stars Terrence Howard (Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard, “Crash,” “Hustle & Flow”) as Lucious Lyon; newcomer Bryshere Gray as Lucious’ favorite youngest son, Haheem; Jussie Smollett (“North,) as the middle son Jamal; the eldest son Andre is played by Trai Byers (“90210); his wife Rhonda, played by Kaitlin Doubleday (“Hung”, “Catch Me If You Can”); and Lucious ex-wife Cookie is played by Academy Award and Emmy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Person of Interest”). As the Lyons slug it out, an emotional chess game begins that will either cause the family’s destruction or redemption. Lives and loves will be lost as the complicated family will come together and fall apart over the elusive throne, all set to an original soundtrack written and produced by legendary hip-hop hitmaker Timbaland. Will the family unite and learn to love each other before it’s too late? Love, war, family, sacrifice, money and music: this is the story of “EMPIRE”. Perhaps the timing is right. The promotion of the series is non-stop. I will be watching… WILL YOU? WATCH TRAILER: