PHILLY'S own Academy Award-nominated director Lee Daniels is getting into the TV game, and Greater Philadelphia Film Office executive director Sharon Pinkenson wants to bring his big business to town.
Yesterday, Fox picked up Daniels' "Empire," about a Jay Z-esque hip-hop mogul played by Lafayette Hill's Terrence Howard. Academy Award nominees Taraji P. Henson ("I Can Do Bad All By Myself") and Gabourey Sidibe (the Daniels-directed "Precious") also star.
Although the pilot for "Empire" was shot in Chicago, Pinkenson told me that she was trying to get Daniels to move back to his beloved hometown, where he shot his directorial debut, "Shadowboxer."
"Empire" is Daniels' second collaboration with his "Lee Daniels' The Butler" screenwriter, Danny Strong.
There are a couple of other Philly-centric pilots in contention this television season. The biggie is "How to Get Away with Murder," the Philly-shot pilot from Shonda Rhimes ("Scandal"), starring Academy Award nominee Viola Davis. "Agatha," a cop procedural, is set in Philadelphia, but the pilot was shot in Toronto. Mount Airy-raised comedian Paul F. Tompkins is vying for a lead in a sitcom, co-starring "Saturday Night Live" vet Molly Shannon, while North Philly comedian Kevin Hart has a sitcom set up with Romany Malco ("The 40-Year-Old Virgin") in the lead. All those properties are set up at ABC, and their fates will be decided soon, although there's a ton of buzz surrounding "Murder" and the Hart show.
Dom's baby needs
I happened to stumble on what appears to be the online baby registry for Phillie Dom Brown and gal pal Stephanie Gayle. They're expecting a girl, according to their very pink color scheme, come July, and their tastes are decidedly low-key, from Target and Babies "R" Us. No froufrou tastes for these two. The most expensive item is a $289 car seat, but there are other considerably cheaper options for friends.
Grace Kelly's granddaughter is starting to hit the socialite scene. Jazmin Grace Grimaldi has shown up at various "glitzy" events, according to Vanity Fair, and she's got Grandma's style sense. Grimaldi is the daughter of Grace's son, Prince Albert II of Monaco, and former waitress Tamara Rotolo, with whom Prince Albert had an affair in 1991. The prince kept Grimaldi's name under wraps to protect her identity, but now that she's hitting the social scene, we can learn a bit about her, namely that she's a student at Fordham University in New York. She doesn't have claim on Monaco's crown, but she's certainly eligible to get a piece of her dad's fortune.
Future's so bright
World Cup fans won't have to squint, thanks to a Wharton junior. Glass-U, featuring shades emblazoned with team names, fraternities and events, like Lollapalooza, will be the sole distributor of the officially licensed 2014 FIFA World Cup sunglasses. The company was founded by Daniel Fine, who started the business in 2012. The sunglasses fold over, so they are perfectly pocket-size. Check out the line at glass-u.com.
Celebs in town
* Jon Bon Jovi warmed up the crowd at the Pennsylvania Convention Center last night as part of A Night of Broadway Stars to raise money for Covenant House Pennsylvania.
* Tony Goldwyn, a/k/a President Fitzgerald Grant on ABC's oh-so-addictive "Scandal," celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project on Tuesday. Goldwyn is a longtime supporter of the organization, and has a television show on WE tv, set to premiere in July, based on a Philadelphia caseworker.
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