Hip-Hop Drama From Lee Daniels, Danny Strong Lands Pilot Order at Fox

Lee Daniels Danny Strong - H 2014
Todd Williamson/Invision/AP; Alexandra Wyman/Invision/AP Images

Fox going to explore hip-hop with The Butler's Lee Daniels and Danny Strong.

The network has picked up Empire, a drama pilot from The Butler's Daniels and Strong, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. 

The family drama is set in the world of a hip-hop empire -- think the Jay Z story. The drama will feature both original and current music. Strong, who penned the script for The Butler, which was produced and directed by Daniels, is attached to write, while Daniels will direct. From 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine, Brian Grazer will exec produce alongside Daniels, Strong and Francie Calfo. Grazer, who is passionate about hip-hop music and culture, has been wanting to do a character-driven series that gives the audience a behind-the-scenes look

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The decision to move forward with Empire comes four months after the network landed the project with a put-pilot commitment following a multiple network bidding war among the Big 4 broadcasters.  

For Daniels, the Fox drama will mark his TV directing debut. Strong, meanwhile, began his TV writing career with HBO's Emmy-nominated entries Recount and Game Change, the latter of which took home the statuette in the miniseries/movie category.

The drama order for Empire marks the network's third project to be put into its development pipeline after Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly announced that the network was largely abandoning pilot season, and instead focusing on year-round producing. Empire will be produced during the traditional pilot season window, with additional scripts likely to be ordered.

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This marks Fox's latest hourlong entry from Imagine. The network has midseason drama Gang Related on the way and the limited series follow-up of 24: Live Another Day. (Imagine also has A&E's upcoming drama Those Who Kill in the works.)

Strong and Daniels -- and Imagine -- are repped by CAA.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
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