Is ‘Empire’ Actually A Bunch of ‘Sons of Riches’?


When asked how the idea for Empire came about, co-creator Danny Strong (best known as Buffy‘s Jonathan back in his acting days) has repeatedly explained that the idea came about when he driving around in Los Angeles and heard a news story about Sean Combs, a.k.a P. Diddy, closing his latest business deal.


Hearing the news story, I thought, ‘Hip-hop is so cool! I wanna do something with hip-hop!’ That was literally my mindset,” said Strong.

Replace “hip hop” with “high school” and “Sean Combs” with “Liza Minnelli” and you have the exact same story of how Ryan Murphy came up with Glee.

Since Strong’s last writing big was Lee Daniels’ The Butler, he immediately picked up the phone to call P. Diddy. But it turns out he doesn’t have P. Diddy’s number, so he wound up working with Lee Daniels again instead. The rest is history.


Eat it, Glee.

Daniels and Strong have often described their show as a “a black Dynasty.” Upon hearing those fateful words, Marvin Gaye III, giddy off his successful lawsuit against Robin Thicke over “Blurred Lines”over alleged plagiarism–and still annoyed about having the song stuck in his head for four months straight, which sadly Congress has yet to do anything about–promptly filed another copyright infringement suit against Empire.

Gaye tells TMZ the show is a ripoff of a treatment he registered in 2010 with the Writer’s Guild of America. His show was also a “black Dynasty” loosely based on his own family with a little Berry Gordy thrown in, which HNTP is pretty sure makes it Motown and not hip-hop, but apparently Gaye thinks all black music is the same.

Gaye’s show would have been called “Diamonds & Ballads” or “Sons of Riches.” Whichever is less lame.

Is 'Empire' Actually A Bunch of 'Sons of Riches'?

It’s going to be a tough call.

Before the internet could question how exactly Gaye was going to prove that his show treatment was the basis for the wildly successful show, Gaye’s lawyer Paul Phillips told Rolling Stone magazine that the TMZ report is false and Marvin Gaye III has enough frivolous lawsuits on his plate. “Although thanks for the idea,” he added.

Susan Velazquez

Susan is a recent college grad and writer who enjoys all things from the 1980s, snarking on dumb television, and reveling in celebrity gossip. Oh, and she has serious interests like reading historical fiction, getting involved in social issues, and consuming French fries.

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