Imagine "Empire" with Shaft in the lead role ... that was the vision one guy had, but it never got made ... and now he believes the creators of the show owe him $500 million for stealing his idea.
A guy named Jon Astor-White is suing EPs Danny Strong and Lee Daniels -- as well as Imagine Entertainment and 21st Century Fox -- claiming he shopped around a show called "King Solomon" back in 2007 ... which bears a lot of similarities to "Empire."
Astor-White claims his show would have starred Richard Roundtree (Shaft said no thanks) and was about a record executive and his family and their battle over control of the company.
Astor-White said he faxed the treatment around, and included a proposed cast list which was aspirational, to say the least. In addition to Roundtree, Astor-White wanted Diahann Carroll, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, John Goodman, George Hamilton and Angie Dickinson.
Astor-White describes his show as "the style and elegance of 'Dynasty' meets 'The Sopranos' with a sprinkling of 'The Godfather.'" That's a similar comparison Marvin Gaye III made in his claim.
Astor-White is seeking the half a billion dollars ... plus additional damages.