Lee Daniels: How 'Real Housewives' Inspired 'Empire'

The show's executive producer on his obsession with the Bravo franchise.

Ladies and gentlemen, let the drama begin!

When Empire premieres this week, some fans might notice that the soapy elements of the family drama seem reminiscent of the throw-a-drink-in-your-face realness of the Real Housewives shows. They wouldn't be wrong.

Executive producer Lee Daniels (the same man behind The Butler and Precious) is revealing that on some level he was inspired by the ladies of the Real Housewives to amp up the drama of the Fox hip-hop series.

"I'm addicted to them damn 'Housewives,'" he tells Entertainment Weekly. "I had to do something to trump those [women]. It's time for cinema to come to TV again! I gotta bring them down."

Empire stars Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard, who are angling for the crown at his hip-hop music company. The series also features music from producer Timbaland. Taraji is a more big house wife, playing Terrence's beleaguered wife who's just released from prison.

"Lucious (Terrence) is the talent, he's the breadwinner, he brings home the money," Henson told USA Today recently. "She is the brains behind it all, so had Lucious gone to jail, how was she going to feed her boys? How was she going to get her boys out of the 'hood?' She took the bullet for her family so her kids could be free and wouldn't be raised like she was."

[Source: EW, USA Today]

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