Is Billy Beretti From 'Empire' Based On A Real Person? Let's Examine Some Other Music Moguls

The first season of Empire is coming to a close. Am I the only one who feels like this show started yesterday? All of the pieces are falling into place for a real showdown on Empire , including Judd Nelson's character Billy Beretti. Is he inspired by any record executives that we may have heard of? Many relationships and characters on the show have mirrored real artists and producers in the music industry, but Billy just appeared on the scene recently. We first heard his name when he stole Empire artist Kidd Fo Fo and Lucious got suspicious that his label, Creedmoor Records, was trying to prevent Empire from going public. Sometimes I think Empire and Nashville should team up — wouldn't Jeff Fordham, formerly of Edgehill Records, fit right in at Creedmoor?

It doesn't appear that Billy Berretti is supposed to be any one recognizable figure. We honestly don't know enough about him to tell, other than his Regina George/Janis Ian-esque relationship with Lucious Lyon — they used to be friends and now they are enemies. I would not be surprised if a pool party was involved in their feud, to be quite honest. One personal detail we know about Beretti is that he lost a son to leukemia. Still, none of this points to any particular person in the real world. That said, here are a few music industry professionals from the present and the past who seem to have a few things in common with Beretti.

Tommy Mottola

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If you're looking for a record executive with a bad reputation, this is your guy. Mottola has worked with Beyoncé and Mariah Carey (who he was married to for a time) at Sony Music, Columbia Records, and his own label Casablanca Records. In 2002, Michael Jackson accused Mottola of being "the devil" and conspiring "against the artists... especially the Black artists."

Would this make Anika the Mariah to Billy's Mottola? We still don't know whether or not Anika can sing. Then again, I'm not sure why I keep pressing that mystery. I don't exactly love Anika or want her to sing, and it's still hard to figure out what exactly her relationship with Beretti is.

Rick Rubin

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Rubin founded Def Jam Records and has represented many rap and hip hop artists over the years, so he's definitely a contender. However, Beretti seems more corporate than Rubin, who held a funeral for the word "def" the second it went mainstream. But maybe Empire's mogul has a cooler past we don't know about. I wouldn't put it past Judd Nelson.

Clive Davis


I mention him only because he represents Jennifer Hudson, who will guest star on Wednesday night's episode.

A Historical Option

Maybe I've seen too much Gotham recently, which is all about campy warring crime families, but is it possible that Billy Beretti is involved in organized crime? The thought didn't enter my mind until Beretti and Lucious ended up in a casual standoff in a parking lot last week. Maybe this is just what all the cool producers are doing these days, but I've seen The Godfather,and I'm sure some of the people behind Empire have too .

There have also been instances of the mafia being involved in the record industry in real life. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Morris Levy was one of those connected executives. His record company, Roulette Records, was reportedly a money-laundering front. We may have only scratched the surface of Beretti and Creedmoor Records on this season of Empire.

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