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EMPIRE Has Ratings Rise After Four Week Declines … Delivers Sudsy Episode With Hakeem's Kidnapping!

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Lee Daniels soapy creation, Empire headed into its first break of the season on a ratings uptick on Fox Wednesday night!

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, as noted by Variety, Empire averaged a 4.8 rating/15 share in adults 18-49 and 12.2 million viewers overall from 9 to 10 p.m., up a tick from last week for the show’s first week-over-week gain of the season.  It was also up 4% from its fifth episode of its rookie season. Empire was especially dominant in adults 18-34, where its 4.3 rating/17 share more than doubled the No. 2 program on Wednesday, ABC’s Modern Family (1.9/7).

The sudsy drama is scheduled to be off next week for Game 2 of the World Series, which will be broadcast by Fox Sports, and could be off on November 4th as well if a seventh game is needed.

Empire showrunner Ilene Chaiken spoke to Variety about the game-changing events that will be picked-up when the series returns in two weeks or so.   In terms of Hakeem’s (Bryshere Gray) kidnapping, she teased:  “It’s got a trade term — it’s called a snatch-and-grab. It happens in the music business, in all kinds of celebrity business, but particularly in the hip-hop business. It really is the story in episode six, but the issue of whether or not Lucious and Thirsty have something to do with it is key to the story.”  Jamal (Jussie Smollett) is cheated on by his boyfriend Michael (Rafael de la Fuente) in a shockerChaiken revealed why the story turn: “As we talked about that story, we conceived that story a little behind the scenes — we met with all the actors over the course of the season and when Jussie Smolett came into the room, we wound up talking a lot about having a relationship when your fame is going through the roof. We thought that was an interesting story. We thought, is it going to go to Jamal’s head? And then we realized it was actually a much more interesting story to see Jamal’s boyfriend cheat on him. Jamal is a man who can pretty much have anyone he wants, and the one person that he really cares for hurts him because he’s so threatened by Jamal’s fame.”  And as far as Cookie’s (Taraji P. Henson) new love interest, Laz Delgado  (Adam Rodriguez), Chaiken would say:  “You’re going to learn a little bit more about him in the next episode. I thought there was some crackling tension between them. Clearly she’s intrigued, and he’s intrigued. They’re flirting — straight up! I’ve never noticed Cookie sitting too long on that type of feelings. I think they’re two people who are quite likely to act on their attraction to each other.”

So, what did you think of last night’s episode of Empire? Upset Hakeem was kidnapped? Who has him?  Intrigued by Cookie’s new man?  Upset that Michael cheated on Jamal?  Are you digging season two?  Comment below!

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I was a huge fan of “Empire” during its first season. I thought the acting was great, the storylines moved at break-neck pace and the cast was amazing. I have watched three of the five episodes this season and continue to struggle with enjoying the show. I have HATED some of the smaller storylines, especially Cookie instructing Anika to sleep with Marisa Tomei’s character just to close a deal. I found that slightly offensive to the character. How many straight women would sleep with a woman just to close a business deal?

During the first three episodes, I could not keep up with which son was choosing Luscious and which were choosing Cookie’s record deal. It seemed they were all changing their allegiance and it became too confusing.

I think they show continues to explore more of the “street cred” life. I love the actors and a great nighttime soap opera, but it gets difficult to understand all of the “slang” after a while.

Tarija P. Henson and Jussie Smollett are HUGE breakout stars. I will continue watching it, but hope some of the shock factor gets toned down as the series gets older.

Have not seen Wednesday’s ep yet.

Did not like the season premiere ep. Too much going on.

I do not like all the music. I know it’s a show about music, but I want to see acting and story.

Some of the stuff I have not liked. I am still watching. I still enjoy it. I do not enjoy Hakeem’s ‘acting’. He’s okay when rapping, but he can’t act. It’s so one note.

I still love Empire. Terrence and Taraji is amazing. And I also love Trai Byers; he is an excellent actor. I can admit that the season premiere had too much going on but overall, I feel that Cookie and Lucious’s drama saved the episode. There were some great scenes and I still wanted more. I was not a big fan of Anika sleeping with Mimi either; I know people do that kind of stuff but it seemed unnecessary and another way to further humiliate Anika. She is not my favorite character especially after what she did to Courtney Love’s character, but they are totally demoralizing her and not sure I care for that. And as much as I LOVE COOKIE, I don’t think she has to crush her every single time she sees her. But as far as the season overall, I am enjoying it immensely. Empire was only 12 episodes last season; this season it is 18 so it is going to be developed a lot more slowly and they are going to dig more into the other characters and stories so it seems like it is going fine to me. I will continue watching. On every show, there is always gonna be a couple of episodes that aren’t as good as the others. I can’t wait to see how it all ends. My thinking is that Thirsty is behind Hakeem’s kidnapping. I believe he is doing it for Lucious but I don’t believe that Lucious is actually aware of the things that Thirsty is doing on his behalf. I like Thirsty as Lucious’s new right hand but he brought him in too quickly and trusted him too soon. I’d like to think that Lucious would not have his son kidnapped and beaten and if so, I think THAT would change how I felt about the show. I can accept Lucious being the villain; every show needs that but deep down I feel that he loves his sons and no way that act could be explained away if he knows about it. IMO, they could never overcome that so I hope that is not the case. Or maybe it’s Beretti. Hopefully it is ANYONE but Lucious. But we’ll see.


Taraji P. Henson Says She Fired Her Entire Team After They Failed to Capitalize on Her Success as ‘Empire’s’ Cookie Lyon

When Fox’s hit primetime soap opera, Empire, hit the air it became a smash hit, especially due to its lead female character, Cookie Lyon, as played by Taraji P. Henson.

The actress played Cookie for all she was worth and the some becoming one of the more original soap and television characters. After all, Cookie went to jail for 17 years before being released, and was the wife of former drug dealer, now music mogul, Lucious Lyon played by Terrence Howard.

Now, Taraji revealed all was not kosher behind the scenes during a sit-down interview for the SAG-AFTRA Foundation (see below). It was there, she revealed that she had to fire her entire PR team and more, because of how they failed to capitalize on her rousing success at the time as Cookie.

Photo: Fox

The moment came about during the Q&A Henson was asked what was the best business decision she ever made.  She swiftly answered: “Firing everybody after Cookie,” adding, “Everybody had to f**ing’ go. Where is my deal? Where’s my commercial? Cookie was at the top of the fashion game. Where is my endorsement? What did you have set up for after this? That’s why you all haven’t seen me in so long. They had nothing set up.”

Empire fans recall that a ‘Cookie’ prequel had been in the works to continue the character after the series was canceled after six seasons, but nothing happened. At the time reports shared, Danny Strong, co-creator of the Empire was said to be co-writing the series, and it would come through Henson’s new production banner.

Taraji explained what went down behind the scenes: “All they wanted was another Cookie show, and I said, ‘I’ll do it, but it has to be right. The people deserve, she’s to beloved for y’all to f**k it up.’ And so, when they didn’t get it right, I was like, ‘Well, that’s it,’ and they had nothing else. ‘You’re all f**ng fired.”

Photo: JPI

Henson added that she felt like she had Stockholm Syndrome from the entire situation, which is defines as a syndrome ‘where hostages sometimes develop a psychological bond with their captors.’ (Think Kevin, Y&R!) The moral of Henson’s story was to make sure the people you pay and who work for you, understand that you are the talent and nothing happens without you including them collecting a paycheck off you.

Henson can currently be seen in the musical version of The Color People in movie theatres everywhere.

Check out her emotional and enlightening conversation with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation below.

Now let us know, do you think Cookie Lyon was one of the best TV characters and should have either been spun off into her own show, or Henson should have appeared in more commercial and endorsement deals given the popularity of the character? Weigh-in via the comment section.

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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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