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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
vinman

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

clh
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
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
Jake NJ

Love this show!

Jeremy
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)
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
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
Patrick

ditto on the momentum

Nancy
Nancy

I will have to check it out!

Lew S
Lew S

Yes, it is that good!

MBmomof3
MBmomof3

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

I highly recommend this show.

Marisa
Marisa

LOVE COOKIE!

Andy G.
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.

Breaking News

TEEN CHOICE AWARDS: ‘This Is Us’, ‘Empire’ & Actors Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, Jussie Smollett Score Nods

On Wednesday, the nominees for those ‘way cool’ surfboard trophies at the upcoming 2018 Teen Choice Awards were revealed.  The ceremony will air live on FOX on Sunday August 12th at 8/7c live from Los Angeles.

The awards voted on by fans for their favorites in television, movies and music kicked off the determination of the winners today. Fans have the chance to vote up to ten times a day on each platform: Twitter and at TeenChoice.com up until June 19.  For Twitter, viewers can tweet a category hashtag along with the nominee’s name for the vote to be counted.

In the television categories, Riverdale and the just cancelled Shadowhunters led the nominations. but a few of your favorite primetime soapy dramas also came away with nominations in the major categories … This Is Us, and Empire.  In addition, Sterling K. Brown (Randall) and Chrissy Metz (Kate) scored acting nominations for This Is Us, while Jussie Smollett (Jamal) received an acting nod for Empire.

Check out these main TV drama categories below and remember to vote.

Choice Drama TV Show (#ChoiceDramaTVShow)
Empire
Famous in Love
Riverdale
Star
The Fosters
This Is Us

Choice Drama TV Actor (#ChoiceDramaTVActor)
Cole Sprouse — Riverdale
Freddie Highmore — The Good Doctor
Jesse Williams — Grey’s Anatomy
Jussie Smollett — Empire
K.J. Apa — Riverdale
Sterling K. Brown — This Is Us

Choice Drama TV Actress (#ChoiceDramaTVActress)
Bella Thorne — Famous in Love
Camila Mendes — Riverdale
Chrissy Metz — This Is Us
Lili Reinhart — Riverdale
Maia Mitchell — The Fosters
Ryan Destiny — Star

So, which show from the nominees do you think the voters will chose for Choice Drama TV Show, Actor and Actress?  Let us know in the comment section below!

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Empire

EMPIRE Season Four Finale: A Wedding, Two Deaths … Maybe More!

On the season four finale of Empire, two deaths, maybe another, and a marriage, highlighted the twists and turns of the Fox hip-hop music soap opera.

First, Cookie’s (Taraji P. Henson) long time rival, Boo Boo Kitty aka Anika, played by Grace Gealey, took one of the more horrific signature tumbles that Empire is known for.  Payback is definitely a bitch!

Courtesy/FOX

Andre (Trai Byers) spiked Anika’s champagne before her press conference when she announces she has taken over as CEO of “Empire.”  While she is making her speech, she starts seeing visions of Rhonda, featuring Kaitlin Doubleday reprising her role. As she is speaking to the press, Anika is having hallucinations of Rhonda and her delusions reach epic proportions.  Then, we watch Anika smash through glass and fall several floors below to her death. According to showrunner EP Greg Mahoney, Anika is truly dead.

But also, at the top of the hour, recovering junkie Tori, played by Rumer Willis, was rushed to the hospital.  This was following an emotional confrontation with Jamal (Jussie Smollett). He visits her in the rehab center where she realizes she’s still got deep addiction issues.  After, they have a talk, she tells him to watch out for himself, and that the Lyon family will bring him down, and he needs to find his own path in life. Later, Jamal comes back to see her, only to find out that she has suffered complications from a grand mal seizure, and has died.  This prompts Jamal to go on a self-journey, and leave the Lyon’s nest for now.

Meanwhile, at the end of the episode, Cookie and Lucious (Terrence Howard), finally, finally after all the bickering … all the backstabbing … all the health issues … all the betrayals … went down to city hall to get re-married.  This was a long time coming. It was a simple ceremony, but as with any Empire season finale, there was a major juxtaposition going on adjacent to the main scene, and this was also the case for season four’s final moments.

While Cookie and Lucious were getting married, the camera cuts to Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) and his baby mama Tiana (Serayah McNeill) getting ready to travel in a car along with white rapper Blake in tow, only to see that Blake’s racist father comes out of nowhere and attempts to assassinate Hakeem!  We don’t know if anyone was struck … we don’t know if anybody died … we fade to black.

On the business end of things, Eddie, played by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, won the “Empire” auction.  He has forced the Lyon family to start from scratch as they no longer have the business that they spent years putting their blood, sweat, and tears into.

Courtesy/FOX

When TV Line asked showrunner Brett Mahoney about the shooting at the end of the episode and if it will lead to a third death, he said, “I won’t say.  I will say that things won’t be the same between the four people that were involved in that.” Mahoney added that the early part of season five will focus on the Lyon family building a new empire.  He teased, “Yes.  But I think it’s going to be a much more difficult process than Cookie thinks it’s going to be.  And it’ll tear at the relationship between Cookie and Lucious and the boys, in terms of trying to achieve that goal.”

 

So, what did you think about the season four finale of Empire?  What did you think about who died?  What did you think about Cookie and Lucious tying the knot?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Empire

EMPIRE Renewed For Season 5!

The Lyon family drama lives on!  News today from Michael Thorn, entertainment president for Fox Broadcasting, confirmed that Empire has been officially renewed for its fifth season!

With only four episodes left in its fourth season, and the Upfronts in New York in just a few weeks previewing the  2018-2019 season for advertisers, this was the perfect time to reveal the pick-up for the sudsy musical drama series.

In his statement, Thorn said of the series: “Empire is as compelling, emotional and unpredictable as it ever was. We are so proud of our amazing cast, led by Terrence and Taraji, who deliver powerful performances week after week. We’d also like to thank our tremendous creative team – Lee, Danny, Brett, Ilene, Sanaa, Brian and Francie – whose inspired storytelling continues to create the unforgettable, jaw-dropping OMG moments that have always been signature to Empire.”

Although the once huge Wednesday juggernaut has slid significantly in the ratings in 14 episodes this season, the show is averaging a 1.9 rating in the 18-49 demo and 5.8 million total viewers — down 31% and 24%, respectively from last season, the series is the network’s second most watched in multi-platform viewing, averaging 11.3 million viewers.

There was no confirmation of how many episodes will be ordered for the fifth season of Empire, but it is says to be most likely 18. (more…)

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This weekend we mourn the loss of General Hospital’s beloved Susan Brown who played Gail Baldwin. Here is her final scene from 2004 when Gail and her husband Lee (the late Peter Hansen) showed up at Lila’s funeral and had an exchange with Alan and Monica. Share your thoughts on Susan’s passing via the link below. Leave A Comment

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