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TONIGHT: ‘Empire’ Series Finale: How It Will Conclude? Even Taraji P. Henson Says She Doesn’t Know

Photo: FOX

The coronavirus pandemic not only has wreaked havoc on the physical, emotional, and financial well-beings of everyone in our country and around the world, but for TV viewers it really messed with production plans for many of your favorite shows.   For the primetime soap Empire, that could not have been more true.

Faced with having filmed 18 episodes and a part of its 19th (with an originally planned 20 season order), its series finale and story had to be restructured.  So tonight on Tuesday April 21st, the hip hop music drama will say goodbye on FOX.

Empire has had a very twisted road in its six seasons.  For its first few years on the air, it was a juggernaut bringing in huge ratings.  Then in 2019 things took a turn with a behind the scenes shift when one of its leads, Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon), made headlines for his claimed hate-crime attack on the streets of Chicago in the wee hours of the morning.  This led to plenty of revelations in Smollett’s case with the law, and his not returning to the series for the end of its fifth and in its sixth and final season.

Photo: FOX

Showrunner Brett Mahoney told TV Line that if things line up right following the pandemic, he could see trying to give the show a proper send-off: “I can’t guarantee it will happen, but we’re hopeful. And if we don’t actually get a chance to shoot the series finale, I think we’ll find some creative way to get (the information) out there, whether it’s by just releasing the script or finding another way to satisfy fans “= We don’t know what the costs will be in terms of keeping our sets. And then the question becomes who from the cast will be available at that point.”

On Monday’s episode of the CBS daytime series, The Talk, the ladies welcomed Taraji P. Henson (Cookie Lyon) to get a preview of what to expect tonight.  She surprised the hosts by saying she doesn’t really know.

Henson expressed: “We were in the middle of the 19th episode when everything got shut down. So, I used to know how the show was going to end, but I don’t know. They are going to make some kind of movie magic in that editing room. They are going to take all the footage they have already, and just come up with some kind of finale… I will be finding out what’s happening at the same time you guys are finding out, which is kind of fun.”

She added, “I’m a little hurt because I didn’t get to say goodbye to my cast and my crew. I bought them amazing letterman sweaters, that’s my gift to them because it was our senior year.  I hope ‘Empire’s’ legacy will be that African American stories do translate, and they cross over, and they’re international.”

Watch Taraji on The Talk below. Then weigh-in: how do you think the story will conclude for Luscious (Terrence Howard) and Cookie, and the Lyon family in the makeshift ending of Empire? Let us know in the comment section.

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Well, the season started with a “flash forward” to Lucius being murdered, so that pretty much locks them into an ending. But if they had to stop filming 1.5 episodes short of that, then it would seem they have to finish the season incomplete, and then hope they get to tie things up properly with a two hour movie whenever they can film it. Or at least that would be the logical move. But these are the same people who made the show “Star” and they never made any attempts to resolve the dumb cliffhanger that show ended on…. so… Read more »

Breaking News

Taraji P. Henson Developing Cookie Lyon ‘Empire’ Spinoff With New First-Look Deal Via 20th Century Fox

Looks like more ‘Cookie’ is on the way, if this long bantered about Empire spinoff takes place.  But, news today via Deadline makes the whole thing look more promising! Series star, Taraji P. Henson has signed a new first-look deal with 20th Century Fox where she would star and be one of the EP’s of the new show.

The show would be written by Empire EP Danny Strong with Stacy A. Littlejohn and Yolonda Lawrence, and Empire director Sanaa Hamri to take those reins again behind the camera.

Henson said in a statement on the deal: “I believe that normalizing stories around stigmatizing matters will make them more palatable for audiences to embrace.  Art can change perception and I plan to develop projects that can help further the conversation.  I also aim to help cultivate and establish new young talent and their stories because they are our future and deserve a voice and a platform to be heard. I’m so excited to have 20th, led by the talented Carolyn Cassidy, support me in this new endeavor!”

20th Century Fox TV president Carolyn Cassidy shared on Thursday: “We were lucky to have a front row seat to Taraji’s meteoric rise as a fixture on television through Empire.  Through that relationship everyone at the company grew to appreciate her passion for storytelling and her strong creative gut instinct. With Empire finished we look forward to helping her explore stories that need to be told through her talent and advocacy.”

Empire ended its sixth and final season a bit shorter than expected due to COVID-19 shutting down production, but now Henson has a way forward to tell us more of Cookie’s story.  This would just be one of the projects Henson would have under this deal with 20th Century Fox.

So, would you like to see more Cookie Lyon in a spinoff of Empire? Comment below.

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Breaking News

‘Empire’ star Bryshere Gray Arrested On Domestic Violence Charges After Allegedly Assaulting Wife

More legal trouble for the Lyon children of Fox’s former show Empire.   Now comes word that Bryshere Gray, who played Hakeem Lyon, was arrested near Phoenix on Monday after his wife told authorities he had assaulted her for hours and preceded to choke her unconscious at their home in Goodyear, Arizona on Sunday night.

Police arrested Gray early Monday outside his home, and related that the actor initially refused to come out of the house, so a SWAT team was employed and crisis negotiations experts were called on to the scene.

Gray was later taken into custody and booked at the infamous Maricopa Country Jail on charges of domestic violence.

As to the events that precipitated Bryshere’s arrest: initially police responded to a 911 call Sunday night, where the caller said that an adult female allegedly told him that she has been assaulted multiple times by her husband inside their home.  She then names herself as Bryshere Gray’s wife and Gray as the suspect.

Later via a press release, police said the woman had flagged down a bystander at a local gas station and told the driver that she had been assaulted for several hours. Police said she clearly was injured and told them her husband had choked her to the point where she lost consciousness. The woman was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at a local hospital and later released.

Gray appeared in all six seasons of Empire and landed BET,  NAACP Image and Teen Choice awards during his run.

Check out the mug shot below of Gray’s arrest via a tweet put out by the Goodyear Police Department below.  TMZ first reported the news.

So, what do you think of the domestic violence charges against Gray? Comment below.

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Empire

‘Empire’ Series Finale Brings Lyon Family Together; While Many Viewers Dissatisfied Over Makeshift Ending

Following Tuesday’s night series finale of Empire, which featured once again, brilliant performances from Taraji P. Henson (Cookie) and Terrence DaShon Howard (Luscious), many longtime viewers took to social media unsatisfied with its conclusion.  However, it should be noted that the shows producers did their best to use the footage they had in the can to craft something they hoped would be meaningful.

As previously reported, due to COVID-19, Empire had shot 18 episodes and a half of episode 19, of their 20 season order, when they were forced to shut down production.  Thus, the set-up and focus of the finale had to be significantly changed.

If you have not seen last night’s finale and plan to watch, do  not read any further for spoilers.

In an episode entitled “Home is On The Way,” which now makes complete sense post-viewing, Cookie and Luscious throughout trials, tribulations, realizations, deaths, and wrestling back control of the company, find their way back to each other.  Throughout the episode, viewers are treated to flashbacks of the duo’s long and twisted history – the good, the bad, the ugly, the dirty, and the nasty.

Photo: FOX

To get them back together, the series had to figure out what to do to with Yana, the musical protege with whom Luscious was involved with.  Backstage at a major concert event, Yana realizes that Luscious is not going to come on the world tour with her, because he still deeply loves Cookie.  He does not deny it.  When Yana’s father, Damon sees her backstage in what looks like she is hugging and all into Luscious, he pulls out a gun.  When we come back from commercial, we learn Yana was shot and killed, sending Damon on a spiral to get Luscious once and for all.

Following the shooting, Lucious tries to cancel the premiere of Hakeem’s Lyon legacy movie over concerns for the safety of his entire family,  but the Andre of old steps up and says they won’t let fear force the family to do that.

Earlier in the episode, Luscious had previously requested that in the event something should happen to him to please get a special letter he wrote to Cookie, where he opens up about his feelings for her.  When Cookie gets the letter, it is juxtaposed with the Luscious vs. Damon showdown; which Luscious ultimately wins when he clubs Damon over the head with his own prosthetic leg.

Photo: FOX

With the threat to their ultimate happiness eliminated, the series ends with the entire family attending the premiere party of the film Birth of an Empire, where Hakeem performs a rap, “The Oath,” as an ode to the Lyon legacy. The  lyrics of the song detail Cookie and Luscious’ family story and flashbacks from all six seasons are used throughout the rap.  Then came how to deal with the missing Jussie Smollett and the character of Jamal Lyon in said flashbacks.

While Luscious, Cookie, Andre and Hakeem’s flashbacks showed the actual actors who play their respective roles, Jamal’s flashbacks only showed a young child portraying the middle son of the clan – eliminating any appearance of Smollett from the finale; even via previously shot footage from the five seasons in which Smollett appeared.

Empire showrunner, Brett Mahoney spoke to TV Line as to the decision on ending of the finale: “I realized that the movie premiere, with the family coming together, with Cookie and Lucious recognizing their love for one another, we definitely have the spirit of what I had intended for our true series finale, It’s almost the idea that the family is more important than the empire. That the love that they have for each other is more important than anything else … that’s definitely where we’re headed in terms of the actual series finale.”

As to the premise from the beginning of season 6 that fans were hoping would be answered in the series finale – who blew up Cookie’s car and who shot Luscious – Mahoney shared: “I was not able to answer that in a satisfying way with what we had shot, so that’s why I’m hoping that we can really still shoot our intended series finale and answer those questions.”

The biggest cliffhanger to come out of the series finale from Tuesday night is; will Mahoney and company be able to re-group and shoot the series finale they intended; following any lessening of the COVID-10 safety measures in the coming months? Stay tuned.

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