Imagine “Empire” with Shaft in the lead role … that was the vision one guy had, but it never got made … and now he believes the creators of the show owe him $500 million for stealing his idea.
A guy named Jon Astor-White is suing EPs Danny Strong and Lee Daniels — as well as Imagine Entertainment and 21st Century Fox — claiming he shopped around a show called “King Solomon” back in 2007 … which bears a lot of similarities to “Empire.”
Astor-White claims his show would have starred Richard Roundtree (Shaft said no thanks) and was about a record executive and his family and their battle over control of the company.
Astor-White said he faxed the treatment around, and included a proposed cast list which was aspirational, to say the least. In addition to Roundtree, Astor-White wanted Diahann Carroll, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, John Goodman, George Hamilton and Angie Dickinson.
Astor-White describes his show as “the style and elegance of ‘Dynasty’ meets ‘The Sopranos’ with a sprinkling of ‘The Godfather.’” That’s a similar comparison Marvin Gaye III made in his claim.
The show has also been sued by a guy with Jackson family connections and by a woman who claims she is the real Cookie.
Astor-White is seeking the half a billion dollars … plus additional damages.
The struggle will likely continue down the line. Empire’s second season starts on September 23