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Ashland man seeks $1.5 billion from ‘Empire’ creators

Posted at 7:18 AM, Mar 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-15 07:18:38-04

ASHLAND, Va. — An Ashland resident is suing the creators of a popular television series, claiming a tale he recently published was the basis for the show.

Timothy J. Levi filed a lawsuit in Richmond federal court on March 3, alleging copyright infringement against Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, who created the Fox show “Empire,” as well as Richmond attorney Robert Walker.

Levi, 56, is seeking $1.5 billion in damages on the allegation that the defendants infringed upon his manuscript, “Unity Incorporated: The Mastermind,” which he self-published as a book last year.

“Empire” revolves around character Lucious Lyon’s struggle to put his life of crime behind him while building a successful record company. The show’s two seasons have been widely acclaimed since premiering in 2015. “Empire” has garnered Golden Globes and NAACP Image Awards and has been renewed for a third season.

The 14-page lawsuit describes the show as “strikingly similar” to Levi’s story: “Each work has a core theme of drama centered on the story of an African American man with a history of violence and raising himself without a mother and father from the ghetto and a life of crime into the world of the music industry.

“Both works also assert how the main character is a ‘gangster’ masquerading as a legitimate businessman.”

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