So Did You Watch Fox’s New Music Drama/Soap Opera Last Night? It Was Good.

Fox is sinking a lot of money into Empire, a soap opera-ish drama (think a modern, hipper Dynasty crossed with King Lear) set within an R&B/rap/hip hop record label run by an ex-drug dealer/murderer with the early stages of ALS. He wants to hand over the company to one of his three sons before he gets too ill but doesn’t believe any of them have the stones to take on the job. Meanwhile, his ex-wife Cookie has just shown up after serving a 17-year stretch on a drug conviction. She wants back in and she’ll do anything to get her fair share of the action.

In the first episode, we’re treated to drug dealing, murder, extortion, homophobia and a various of hip-hop excesses. Even though network TV isn’t really my thing anymore, I rather enjoyed it. The DVR has been programmed to record the series. (Here’s another review.)

I’m looking forward to episode four when Courtney Love shows up.  She plays a drug-addicted, badly behaving diva (“Inspired casting!” she told me) who has a recurring role of indeterminate length. In some back-and-forth texting after the show (we communicate quite a bit), she told me that filming takes place in a huge soundstage in Chicago and the cast has really come together off-screen.

Fox really needs this to be a hit.  Will it work?  I hope so.  Taraji P, Henson, the actress who plays Cookie says “We’re going to piss off so many people.”

Meanwhile, I’m going to try to get to NYC next week to see Courtney perform in Kansas City Choir Boy an modern opera in which she has a starring role.

Related: Is Empire realistic? Industry insiders have their say.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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