EMPIRE Spin-Off, Latifah to Atlanta

EMPIRE Spin-Off, Latifah to Atlanta

The good news is the spinoff of EMPIRE has the green light and the pilot starts shooting next month. The bad news is it's shooting in Atlanta.

EMPIRE creator Lee Daniels has chosen Queen Latifah to head up the cast of what is currently being called "The Untitled Lee Daniels Project," or "Star."

The series will follow three women played by newcomers Jude Demorest, Ryan Destiny and Brittany O’Grady – all with hopes of making it big. The drama will showcase the allure and heartache of the cut-throat music scene, while also exploring cultural themes from a new perspective.

Latifah will play “Carlotta,” the owner of an Atlanta beauty salon with an amazing voice who becomes a surrogate mother to Star (played by Demorest) and the other girls — even though she doesn’t approve of their musical dreams.

There was quite a bit of sustained buzz surrounding this highly anticipated possible spinoff, and it seemed like Chicago was a serious contender to host the production. At least EMPIRE then-Co-Executive Producer Loucas George thought so, and he made a pretty good case for it. Here is/was his take on the EMPIRE spinoff and its potential landing site during a recent Producers Panel at the Midwest Independent Film Festival, taped just before Mr. George unexpectedly left the show at the end of November:

While there is still plenty to be happy about in Illinois with four hit shows in production... Atlanta has swiped another one from us. Heck, I was still ornery over BARBERSHOP 3. And that DIVERGENT sequel, whatever it was called. All the more reason why it's so important to keep our film tax incentives strong if not stronger in the years to come.

Mike McNamara is the Co-Founder of The Midwest Independent Film Festival, www.midwestfilm.org. Mike pays his rent as an actor in Chicago in theatre, commercials, television and film. More from Mac at www.findmac.com.