11:30am PT by Kate Stanhope
'Empire' Co-Creator Lee Daniels Inks Overall Deal With 20th TV
Lee Daniels is settling at 20th Century Fox Television.
The Empire co-creator has signed a multiyear overall deal with the studio, it was announced Monday.
Under the pact, Daniels will remain an executive producer on the runaway hit, which he also directs. He will also develop, write, direct and supervise new projects for the studio under his Lee Daniels Entertainment banner.
The move to further Daniels' relationship with the studio is no surprise given the enormous success of Empire, which became the No. 1 scripted series on broadcast of the 2014-15 season and ranks as the highest-rated broadcast drama in seven years. Twentieth TV also signed Empire showrunner Ilene Chaiken to a rich overall deal in May.
Empire marks Daniels' first TV series following years of acclaimed film work on dramas including Lee Daniels' The Butler, Precious and Monster's Ball.
"Lee Daniels has a gift for telling authentic, provocative stories that are both truthful and wildly entertaining," said Fox TV Group chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman. "His casting instincts are incredible, whether he is discovering tomorrow’s stars or attracting the most accomplished performers to his projects. As a director, he elevates world class material to even greater heights, balancing heart-wrenching poignancy with surprising moments of levity that are over the top and fun. Quite simply, we love working with this inspired storyteller, and this deal is about extending and deepening our relationship."
Added Daniels: “I’m incredibly excited to continue my relationship with Dana and Gary and the rest of the Fox team. I’m looking forward to developing content and finding alternative voices for both in front of and behind the camera.”
Imagine Television produces the series in association with 20th Century Fox Television. Created by Daniels and Danny Strong, Empire is exec produced by Daniels, Strong, Imagine's Brian Grazer, Chaiken and Francie Calfo.
In addition to Empire, which went back into production last week, Daniels is also set to helm an untitled Richard Pryor biopic for the Weinstein Company. He is repped by CAA and Hansen Jacobson.