Me: I wonder what would happen if the cast of “Empire” met up with the cast of “Nashville.”
David: That could be interesting. I don’t really know “Empire.” Except for Cookie.
Me: Yum. Cookies.
David: You are always peckish when it rains.
Me: I watch too much crap TV when it rains.
Scene: Offices of record label Highway 65 in Nashville, where the reigning queen of country music holds court.
Rayna James: If this label is going to make an impact, we’re going to have to expand outside of country.
Bucky Dawes (manager friend and confidant): You haven’t had much luck with that in the past.
Rayna: That was alt country. I’m thinking hip-hop/R&B and I’ve got just the artist in mind: Jamal Lyon. His lyrics are dramatic enough to warrant a country song or two. All he needs is a slightly different sound.
Bucky: A gay, black, R&B hip-hop artist on a country label? If Will Lexington — a white, gay, country singer is having so much trouble getting airplay what makes you think Jamal will?
Rayna: Ever heard of Charlie Pride? Let’s give Jamal’s mama Cookie a call.
Cut to: Offices of Empire Records, New York City, where Cookie Lyon shares the throne with ex-husband and literal partner in crime Lucious Lyon.
Cookie (to her assistant Porsha, handing her the phone): What in the he-a-ll is a Rayna? Sounds like a redneck drag queen?
Cookie: Give me the damn phone. This is Cookie. Who dis?
Rayna: Miss Lyon, I run a record label too and I think we have something in common and we should get together to talk about it.
Cookie: Girl, I know who you are and our music ain’t got nothing in common.
Rayna: Perhaps not, but our children do?
Cookie: Now how exactly is that?
Rayna: Your son is estranged from his father and looking for a new label and my 17-year-old daughter just emancipated herself and signed with a New York label.
Cookie: What does a 17-year-old white girl know about emancipation?
Rayna: More than you know.
Cookie: Maybe so, but I don’t know if you get the news down there in Nashville, but my son just got shot at the ASA Awards taking a bullet for his daddy. Now does that sound like an estranged child? Or someone in the position to be shopping around for a record label?
Rayna: It sounds like a country song to me. And a good one. And I’m willing to bet when Jamal recovers — and I hear he is doing so nicely — he will be ready for a change. I’m willing to give you full creative control and over his next album and the bulk of the profits.
Cookie: Hmph. What do you get out of this?
Rayna: You sign my daughter Maddie. She’s got something your label is missing.
Cookie: And what is that exactly Miss Rayna?
Rayna: She can sing. She can write. And she’s a female artist who isn’t in bed with your sons — or your husband.
Cookie: I’m listening.
Cut to: The actual Highway 65 as Cookie drives into Nashville in a black Escalade from a private aviation area. She is wearing a full-length hot pink sable and a jumpsuit to rival Elvis in the 1970s.
Cookie: Lord help me. How many Cracker Barrels can there be in 15 miles?
Driver: Welcome to Nashville, Ms. Lyon.
Scene: Cookie and Rayna meeting face to face at Highway 65 Records. Rayna is wearing black leather pants and a black silk tank top covered in rhinestones and over the knee boots.
Cookie: Damn girl. Is that your real hair?
Rayna: Most of it. The humidity down here gives it most of the curl. May I take your coat? It is July.
Cookie: Honey if I can take the heat for 17 years in jail, I can handle the South.
Rayna: Please have a seat then. I’ve drawn up the agreement we discussed with Jamal after he listened to the demos we put together.
Cookie: I think that picture of that fiiiine Will Lexington helped seal the deal.
Rayna: Boys will be boys. But you know he’s not on my label. He’s with my ex-fiancé Luke Wheeler’s label Wheelin’ Dealin.’
Cookie: Day-am — y’all are country.
Rayna: Not anymore we’re not. Welcome to Highway 65, Cookie.