Perhaps unsurprisingly given its immense success and popularity, Empire seems to have all of a sudden become the #1 target for copyright lawsuits. Just a week after it was announced that creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong were being sued for $300 million by a woman who claimed Cookie Lyon was unauthorizedly based on her, TMZ alleges that Marvin Gaye’s son is planning to file a lawsuit also stating that he pitched a similar story to FOX years ago.
Marvin Gaye III claims to have registered a pitch for a show called Diamonds & Ballads (supposedly a “music based ‘black’ and ‘hip’ version of Dynasty … with a little Sopranos“) in 2010 with the Writers Guild Of America, which he then shopped to assorted executives. (Stereogum notes that these references were similarly used by Daniels when he was talking about Empire). Supposedly people affiliated with Daniels were recipients of Gaye’s email pitches. Now, Gaye’s lawyer has said to TMZ, “We understand that three things can’t be hidden for long: the Sun, the Moon and the Truth!”
This would not be the first major copyright lawsuit involving a member of the Gaye family, recently — just this year, an expensive court decision was reached in the family’s suit against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over alleged copyright infringement in “Blurred Lines.”