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Empire

EMPIRE Creator Lee Daniels Chats On: Series Meteoric Rise, Daytime Soaps, Homophobia & The Season One Finale!

Photo Credit: FOX

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

FOX hit primetime soap opera Empire continues to be the darling of the television season, and with plenty of good reason! Compelling family drama set against the backdrop of the hip-hop music world, sharp writing, a palette of characters that is any soap fans dream (Cookie Lyon, we mean you!), 80’s style sudsy fare a la Dynasty, and its socially conscious tales and relevance of today.  All of this stems from the creative genius of Oscar-nominated director (Precious) and Empire creator, Lee Daniels.

On-Air On-Soaps Michael Fairman chatted with Daniels while he was editing the season one finale of Empire for a new feature out on newsstands and online today for Frontiers LA.

In it, Lee discusses just how he is determined to cast a light on homophobia in the African-American community during the run of Empire, and how the character of Jamal (brilliantly played by the multi-talented Jussie Smollett)  is poised, ready, and willing to take the family business with his take-no-prisoners attitude and inner-resolve, as those around him try to keep him down through their narrow-minded thinking.

It came as no surprise during our chat, that Daniels was a big fan of daytime soaps growing up, and in particular revealed there is one celebrity he has never met that would probably make him faint … Susan Lucci!  Here are a few excerpts from the feature below:

Courtesy/FOX

Daniels on how his love of the soap genre impacted his storytelling: Growing up on daytime soaps was an important part of the fabric of who I am as a filmmaker.  I have met many stars, but the celebrity I am most impressed with that I haven’t met, and I would probably faint if I did is Susan Lucci (Ex-Erica All My Children)! Dynasty really came to me hard. It affected me deeply, and the queen in me. I always wanted to do something that was reminiscent of that, but it needed to be something that I could relate to. Empire—this is my world, but it’s got a residue of Dynasty.”

Daniels on how Jamal is not going to be the down and out gay character of the series … far from it!”  “I didn’t want the stereotypical gay man up against something, and being a victim.  No, Jamal is coming in and taking it down! That’s just at the beginning, by the way, of what a gay man can do. He is (The Godfather’s) Michael Corleone, and he is his father’s son.”

Courtesy/FOX

Daniels on the impact the series is having on the relationship between father’s and sons, in particular after the horrifying flashback scene earlier in the season, which had a young Jamal being stuffed in a trashcan by Lucious (Terrence Howard), after he saw the boy wearing his mother’s heels.: “You don’t realize the power that you have through art, and that lives are saved, and the healing that is done with gay men and their fathers.  I’ve received tons of letters and emails from fathers who have embraced their sons.  It’s crazy!”

Daniels on what to expect in the season one finale of Empire: “It’s just sex, scandal, fights, bloodshed and weaves being torn apart. (Laughs) I wanted to take down those girls—you know, all of those ‘Atlanta Housewives’. There’s a part of that cheekiness in our finale, too.  It’s a hot mess!”

What do you think of Lee’s comment on the soaps and Susan Lucci?  His way of telling Jamal’s rise to power,and to persevere against all odds and homophobia?  Intrigued by what he has to say about the upcoming season finale?  Share your comments below!

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vinman
Guest
vinman

Watch out BooBooKitty…..the Cookie Monster is gonna eat yo ho ASS!

clh
Guest
clh

I am really loving this show! Had me from the first episode. I love Taraji (Cookie) and so miss her on Person of Interest, but glad she has turned up on this show. She is such a badass and I love her!

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

showcase black women… and i mean that in the sincerest form

when this season started :

right out of the gate

Viola Davis : “how to get away with murder”
Olivia Spencer: “red band society”
CCH Pounder : “NCIS: New Orleans”

and now… this spitfire tell it like it is : Taraji B. Henson : “Empire”

how can we not cull from… blow me away

this is just the women.. but they catch me first

Jake NJ
Guest
Jake NJ

Love this show!

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

yeah, I love that Jamal is not going to be a victim. Instead, he’s a strong man who happens to be gay, and conquers his dreams and aspirations. Loves it. Love Empire.

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Guest
Scott (ATWT Fan)

This show is easily the best scripted primetime drama Fox has had since 90210, and I’m so glad that they’re finding their footing back in scripted drama. Plus, it’s so beautiful to see a cast predominately of a non-white principal cast. I only hope the momentum stays through the first season finale and when the second season comes around.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

I agree with ya, Scott. I don’t follow shows on Fox, but now I do.
Last time, I did was the reboot Melrose Place. So, I’m so glad Empire is doing so well, I believe it will have continued success. Oh, hey… Jennifer Hudson is doing an episode, too! JHud!!!!

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

ditto on the momentum

Nancy
Guest
Nancy

I will have to check it out!

Lew S
Guest
Lew S

Yes, it is that good!

MBmomof3
Guest
MBmomof3

Love this show. It would be great if Susan Lucci did a brief cameo.

I highly recommend this show.

Marisa
Guest
Marisa

LOVE COOKIE!

Andy G.
Guest
Andy G.

Since Lee Daniels has referred to this show as his version of “Dynasty,” just for laughs I like to imagine the role of Cookie being played by Joan Collins.

Empire

Jussie Smollett Releases New Rap Single ‘Thank You God’ Speaking On the Injustice of His Court Case

Now that former Empire star, Jussie Smollett (Ex-Jamal Lyon) is out of jail while appealing his conviction for the 2019 Chicago hate crime hoax, in which he was at the epicenter, the singer/actor wasted no time dropping a rap single.

On his Instagram account, Smollett posted a short clip of a new rap song, which speaks about his court case and the injustices brought down upon him by the system.

The track entitled,“Thank You God,” features Smollett rapping lyrics like: “You think I’m stupid enough to kill my reputation?”  He also raps, that there will come a day when he can sit down and talk with his followers.  He gives a mention to “D.L.” who many believe is CNN anchor, Don Lemon, who was originally one of Smollett’s main advocates.

Jussie served 10 days of jail time of his sentence of 150 days before being released . He also has 30 months of probation ahead of him and was ordered to pay $120,106 to the city of Chicago and a $25,000 fine for his actions.

Smollett says any funds raised for “Thank You God” will be donated to the Illinois Innocence Project, Rainbow Push, Secure The Bag Safety.

Check out Jussie’s Instagram post containing the rap below/

Now let us know, what do you think about Smollett releasing this track and still defending his innocence? Comment below.

 

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Breaking News

‘Empire’ Star, Jussie Smollett, Sentenced to 150 Days In Jail For Fake Hate Crime Attack

Late Thursday, former Empire actor and singer, Jussie Smollett, was sentenced in Chicago more than three months after being found guilty on five felony counts to the alleged 2019 hate crime hoax that made national headlines, and got the actor fired from the former Fox primetime drama series.

In the sentencing, Smollett was sentenced to 150 days starting immediately.  In addition, he received 30 months’ probation, and has to pay the city of Chicago $120,106 in restitution, plus Jussie received an additional $25,000 fine.

Cook County Judge James Linn, who levied the sentence, came down hard in his words on Smollett due his actions noting he was, “selfish, arrogant and narcissistic.”  The judge added, “You wanted to make yourself more famous throwing a national pity party for yourself. You’re just a charlatan, pretending to be the victim of a hate crime.”

Linn went in on Smollett for his ‘performance’ and ‘pure perjury’ when the actor took to the witness stand in his own defense last year.

At the end of his sentencing, Smollett pulled down his mask to speak. He then let everyone in the courtroom know that he feels he is innocent, adding, “Your honor, I respect you and I respect the jury, but I did not do this. And I am not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that.”

Just before he was taken into custody, Smollett yelled again that he was innocent and raised a fist in the air as he exited.

Watch the sentencing of Jussie Smollett below, then weigh-in.  Did Smollett get enough of a sentence for his crime? Share your thoughts via the comment section.

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Empire

Ex-‘Empire’ Star Jussie Smollett Found Guilty On Five Counts For Hate Crime Hoax

Jussie Smollett (Ex-Jamal Lyon) from Fox’s former primetime soap opera, Empire, was found guilty on Thursday on five of six felony counts of disorderly conduct stemming from making a false report to the Chicago police department that he was the victim of a hate crime.

The actor’s account of the story dates back to 2019 and finally made its way to the Chicago court system for trial.

In the end, a jury of six men and six women deliberated for more than nine hours Wednesday and today to return the verdict after sitting through testimonies of 13 witnesses.

According to reports, Smollett did not look at his family or the judge during the reading of the verdicts on the six counts he was charged instead he looked at the jury members.

Smollett could face up to 3 years in a prison and a $25,000 fine, Judge James Linn will have discretion in imposing a concurrent or consecutive sentence for each count.  That will happen at a later date.

Special prosecutor Dan Webb said at a post-verdict news conference: “Mr. Smollett would not have lost this case as he did today unless the jury found that he lied to them. The fact that he came up with a completely ridiculous story to explain his misconduct did not apparently have an impact on the jury’s verdict.”

During the trial brothers, Bola and Ola Osundairo testified that Smollett had paid them to stage the hate crime attack on him in an attempt to get media attention.  The brothers testified that they fake punched Smollett, poured bleach on him, put a noose around his neck and used racist and homophobic slurs, because Jussie told them to do so in return for the money.

According to Smollett’s defense team, they will appeal the verdict.

So, what do you think about the guilty verdict for Jussie Smollett? Comment below.

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