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Philadelphia man files federal lawsuit: “Creator of hit show ‘Empire’ took my idea”

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PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia man is suing in federal court saying the hit show “Empire” infringes on a show he created and copyrighted a decade ago.

Clayton Tanksley, an actor who once played a character on “The Cosby Show,” says Lee Daniels stole the idea from him during a 2008 film event.

Tanksley, who performs under the name Clayton Prince, says he participated in a “Philly Pitch” event. Afterward, Tanksley claims he privately pitched his idea to Daniels and gave him scripts and DVDs with episodes.

The suit, filed Friday, January 8th names Daniels, co-creator Danny Strong, 21st Century Fox, the Greater Philadelphia Film Office and the film office’s director, Sharon Pinkenson.

Emails sent Thursday seeking comment from representatives of Daniels, Strong and 20th Century Fox Television weren’t answered.

Pinkenson says she can’t comment on the suit.