Wednesday, January 7, 2015

"Empire" (Premieres Tonight at 9pm on FOX) - Did "Empire" Copy the Marketing Strategy of "Power?"

The highly anticipated drama about a musical family staring Terrance Howard and Taraji P. Henson, premieres this evening at 9pm on FOX. Before we talk about the show and what we can expect lets discuss the press leading up to tonight's premiere. 

The whitewash that was once prime-time television seems to be slowly dying. Granted it's not dying as fast as I would like, I feel much better with the amount of African-Americans that I can see on television today versus a few years ago. We still have a lot of work to do. With that being said I want people to understand that the lane for African-Americans on television in leading roles is a pretty wide and open lane. We can all drive in this lane and we can all make some money in this lane. No need to be greedy or territorial :)

Think about television in the 90's, we had Martin, The Wayan's Brothers, Seinfield, Friends, The Fresh Prince of BelAir and The Cosby Show, just to name a few. You didn't see Bill Cosby beefing with Quincy Jones about producing a show with highly successful black professionals as lead characters. We didn't see Jerry Seinfeld or Larry David beefing with the cast of "Friends" for having a show that focused on friends living in New York. See my point. 

So why oh why is there tension between 50 Cent (Executive Producer of "Power") and Taraji P. Henson (star of "Empire)?

Here is the back story.....

"Power" is a drama staring Omari Hardwick and airs on Starz. It was created by Courtney Kemp Agboh (an African-American woman) and is Executive Produced by Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson. The show focuses on the main character "Ghost" (Omari Hardwick) and his struggle to leave behind his thriving drug business for a more legitimate life with only legal activities, which he hopes to accomplish through his new popular nightclub. Lead roles occupied by African-American actors, drugs, sex, music and law enforcement, make for a pretty exciting series. Granted I predicted the show's outcome within the first 20 minutes of the pilot episode, it's still a well written series and a quality show. 

Now I don't have an exact time line of who did what first, but it's safe to say that the success of "Power" paved the way for tonight's highly anticipated premiere of "Empire." It was well known that Lee Daniels was working on a pilot series for FOX about an African-American music empire. When I first learned about the show being the loyalist and overall annoying television person that I am, I declared that I was team "Power." To my knowledge no one from the "Power" camp expressed any issues or thoughts about "Empire," until recently. 

"Power" Executive Producer Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson expressed that he had love for the lead actors Taraji P. Henson and Terrance Howard, but was disappointed that FOX had copied the marketing strategy he used for "Power." He referred to the promo ads for both shows (to the right and above) as evidence.
"POWER Season 2 is unbelievably good trust me. I have the best writers and show runner. I like Terrence Howard and Taraji Henson. I don’t like that they would copy the Marketing."
Did FOX copy the marketing strategy used by "Power?" I'm going to go ahead and side with 50 on this one. The entire thing looks awkwardly similar. So 50 has every right to feel the way that he does and had every right to point it out. 

However, here is where it gets silly.... 

Taraji P. Henson was recently asked about 50's comment and her response not what I would expect from an academy award nominated actress, who has had success on prime-time television and should understand the issue of a lack of diversity on television....

Taraji's response should have been better or she should have chosen to ignore this question, especially since 50 didn't say anything negative about her or the show. He pointed out the obvious. I would hope that Taraji is not so blind that she doesn't see what FOX has done here. There was no need to make this a beef like situation. Like I said earlier, the lane is big enough for all of us to take a spin in the Hollywood convertible. Both shows are a win for diversity. I'm happy to see Taraji, Terrance, Kerry, Joe, Viola, Alfred, Anthony and Tracee kicking ass on prime-time television. However, let's stick to originality, creativity, and all get along. 

I'm going to give "Empire" as shot. Once I get past Terrance's relaxed hair i'm sure the show will be good :) I watched a free preview special on iTunes and found it interesting. For starters, Timbaland is serving as the Executive Music Producer writing and producing all of the music for the show (50 wrote and produced all of the music on "Power."). His wife Monique Mosley is also getting in on the action, serving as the shows Fashion and Music Consultant. I noticed that they took the opportunity to give some unknown actors a shot. The youngest son on Lucious (Howard) and Cookie (Henson) could have easily been casted with a well known current R&B or Hip Hop artist, but they selected a relatively unknown young man to play the role. I'm not sure where they are shooting this show, but it looks LA-ish to me. 

I'll be tuned in this evening to catch the premiere. Both shows are opening doors for more shows to come. Let's all support and get along :)

Did FOX copy the marketing strategy used by "Power?"
Do you have plans to watch "Empire?"
Were 50's and/or Taraji's remarks justified?
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