The season premiere of Empire airs tonight at 9:00pm ET and the September 25, 2015 issue of The Hollywood Reporter has an article about the behind the scenes drama.
A dozen Empire writers are perched around a cluttered conference table in Beverly Hills when one of the series’ youngest voices clears her throat. “I think I have something,” she says, tapping her cotton-candy-pink nails nervously against the table. “It’s kinda crazy … ”
“Oh, we like crazy,” says co-creator Danny Strong, coaxing her along.
Her male hairdresser, she explains, had gone out one evening with his best girl friend and her boyfriend, and at the end of the night the boyfriend took the hairdresser aside and said, “You know, if you wanted to, you could suck my dick. I’m not gay or anything, but you know … it’s cool.”
Before she can finish, the room — a mix of black, white, Latino, gay, straight, seasoned, green and the formerly incarcerated — is howling. “I’m scandalized,” one of the more established writers shrieks in faux horror, when another cuts him off: “No, this is f—ing good.” For the next 15 minutes, they boisterously debate what constitutes cheating and whether this little tidbit is juicy enough to be repurposed as a storyline for season two.
Welcome to the Empire writers room, which is every bit as provocative, unfiltered and refreshingly diverse as the series itself. When the hip-hop drama starring Oscar nominees Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson as pigheaded music mogul Lucious Lyon and his fresh-out-of-prison ex-wife, Cookie, premiered in January on Fox, it blew up the decades-old mold of primetime programming — demonstrating that a show by black people, about black people and for black people could, in fact, appeal to other people, too. “For so long, we’ve had conversations that have ranged from challenging to unproductive with various creative partners about the value of having our shows reflect the audience that watches television,” says Fox TV Group chairman Dana Walden. “The result is that you can have a big, fat hit.”
But Empire — conceived as either a “hip-hop Lion in Winter” or a “black Dynasty,” depending on whether you ask Strong or his co-creator Lee Daniels — was more than just a hit. It was a full-blown cultural phenomenon, the likes of which network television had not produced in years. It became the first series in more than 20 years to increase its viewership with each successive episode, quickly earning high-profile fans in Oprah Winfrey, Jack Nicholson and Michelle Obama. Yes, black viewers made up 63 percent of the series’ nearly 18 million weekly broadcast audience, but it was bigger and broader than a single demo. Factor in all of the platforms on which Empire has been offered, and more than 26 million viewers have tuned in for its often-outrageous plot twists and catchy Timbaland-produced soundtrack. More impressive: It not only drew the youngest audience for a network drama, with a median age of 43, but also the most social — 2.4 million tweets were fired off during the finale alone. All of which has the advertising community salivating; Fox’s asking price for a 30-second spot in the Sept. 23 premiere is said to be a staggering $750,000, and as much as $600,000 — peak American Idol range — for the remainder of the season.
Read it all at The Hollywood Reporter.
The Emmy nominations were announced today. Not too shabby. I usually give the side eye to the Television Academy. They have a habit of nominating the same folks every year even if the actors gave mediocre performances or a tv show gets tired after a certain number of years. The Television Academy can be very lazy. But this year they added some new folks for a change. And the nominations are a little more diverse, especially when it comes to black actresses. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen this many black folks nominated for Emmys.
For Outstanding Lead Actor In A Limited Series Or A Movie congrats to David Oyelowo for his performance in the HBO movie Nightingale.
I saw the movie a couple of months ago and he gave a fantastic performance. If you haven’t seen this movie you need to check it out.
For Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Series Or A Movie congrats to Queen Latifah. I saw her in Bessie and she did a great job in that movie.
For Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series congrats to Anthony Anderson and Don Cheadle. I love Anthony Anderson in Black-ish. I haven’t seen Don Cheadle in House of Lies.
Terrence Howard was robbed. He should have been nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series. But I will say congrats to Kevin Spacey for House of Cards. Love that show.
Tracee Ellis Ross was robbed cause she should have been nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series.
For Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series congrats to Taraji P. Henson in Empire, Viola Davis in How To Get Away With Murder and Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black.
I love all three actresses in their roles but I’m partial to Taraji. I won’t be mad if Viola or Tatiana win though. Viola blew me away in HTGAWM and Tatiana is fantastic playing multiple characters in Orphan Black. This will be a tough category cause Claire Danes and Robin Wright aren’t slouches. I watch both Homeland and House of Cards and they’re good in their respective shows.
For Outstanding Comedy Series where is Black-ish? I love this show and it was robbed.
Bessie and Nightingale were nominated for Outstanding Television Movie. Both were great movies.
Andre Braugher, Keegan-Michael Key and Tituss Burgess were all nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series. Congrats to all.
Congrats to Niecy Nash for her Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series nomination. She stars in the HBO series Getting On.
Congrats to Uzo Aduba who stars in Orange Is The New Black for her Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series nomination.
Congrats to Reg. E. Cathey who stars in House of Cards for his Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series nomination.
Congrats to Cicely Tyson who guest starred in How To Get Away With Murder for her Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series nomination. She was great as Viola Davis’ mom. And let’s not forget Khandi Alexander who guest starred as Kerry Washington’s mom in Scandal. Congrats to her too.
Congrats to Michael Kenneth Williams who starred in Bessie for his Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series Or A Movie nomination.
For Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series Or A Movie congrats to Regina King in American Crime (great performance), Angela Bassett in American Horror Story: Freak Show ( I watch American Horror Story but couldn’t get into Freak Show) and Mo’Nique in Bessie (great performance).
Check out the entire Emmy nomination list here at Emmys.com
Last month I blogged about the open call for The Wiz in New York City. Well it took place yesterday and it looks like they had a huge turnout.
NBC’s holiday production of “The Wiz Live!,” is set for Thursday, Dec. 3. Today, the network hosted an open casting call for the role of ‘Dorothy’ at New York’s Telsey + Company.
The audition notice revealed that the network was “looking for a female, African-American performer over the age of 18, who “must have an extraordinary voice that can still tell a story, and maturity with a youthful energy.” Those interested were asked to be prepared to perform a short section of ‘Home,’ Ease on Down the Road,’ or ‘Be a Lion’ a capella.
Check out BroadwayWorld.com to see more photos from the open call.
Tv One’s Unsung starts the new season this evening at 8:00pm ET. I love this show. It took me forever to find the new schedule. Finally found it at The Futon Critic.
In a special episode, “Unsung Revisited,” viewers will receive an update on artists, including Full Force, Zapp & Roger, Sylvester, and Miki Howard, who following their features on the series, have experienced profound changes to their lives and legacy.
Episode Lineup Includes Ike Turner, Otis Redding, DJ Quik, Chuck Brown & The Story of Go-Go, Xscape, Kid ‘n Play and Special Unsung Revisited
Silver Spring, MD (May 27, 2015) – TV One’s award-winning series Unsung, returns with an all-new season of hitmakers and game changers starting Wednesday, June 3rd at 8PM/ET. This season is filled with trailblazing artists that dominated the charts, pushed the boundaries of their genre and inspired legions of fans with their legendary sound. Viewers will be able to reflect on the lives of innovative, soul stirring singers of the 60s and 70s including Ike Turner, Otis Redding and the Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown as well as return to hip-hop’s golden age with Kid ‘n Play, DJ Quik and Xscape.
Here’s the new schedule for June and July:
June 3, 2015- Ike Turner
June 10, 2015- Otis Redding
June 17, 2015- DJ Quik
June 24, 2015- Chuck Brown and the Story of Go-Go
July 1, 2015- Unsung Revisited featuring updated info on Full Force, Zapp & Roger, Sylvester and Miki Howard
July 8, 2015- Xscape
July 15, 2015- Kid ‘n Play
The schedule is always subject to change when it comes to dates. This happened last year. Check out The Futon Critic for more info on each show.
Speaking of TV One I read that they renewed their distribution deal with Verizon and will launch the network’s HD Channel. It’s about time TV One had a HD channel on Verizon.
Yes the title of this post is correct 😉
It was announced this morning that one of my favorite shows, Empire will have a fall season start and will have 18 episodes instead of the 12 we saw during season one. Thank goodness us Empire fans don’t have to wait until January 2016. Looks like they will be splitting the 18 episode season like some other shows I watch.
Fox is expanding its breakout mega-hit Empire. Fox chairman and CEO Gary Newman confirmed he’s boosting Empire’s episode count in the second season to 18 episodes, versus the 12 episodes that aired during its debut season this year.
Also, with Empire launching in the fall instead of midseason, the network plans to split its 18-episode second run into two halves.
The Terrence Howard-starring hip-hop drama made a record-breaking splash in its debut on Wednesday nights, defying gravity by continuing to grow with each subsequent episode. Its season finale snagged 16.7 million viewers and a 6.5 in the 18-49 demographic. Going into the upfronts, one big question was whether Fox would move Empire to Thursday nights, which is the most lucractive weekday for advertising. But doing so would also mean that Empire would likely face ABC’s own powerhouse, Scandal, at 9 p.m.
Move to Thursday night? Are they crazy? That’s Shondaland night. Fox already pissed me off by moving Sleepy Hollow to Thursday night. But hey that’s what a dvr is for.
I still have a long wait until season 2 starts but at least the Empire cast gets to rest until filming begins. Can’t wait to see the cast including Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Trai Byers, Bryshere Y. Gray and of course Jussie Smollett.
Speaking of Jussie Smollett I wonder if he ever auditioned for American Idol.
Oops, did I just post a picture of Jussie? Oh well 😉
The long running reality series American Idol will end its run after the 15th season in January 2016.
It’s about time. I was surprised to read about this but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since the ratings have dropped over the past few years. I thought this show would go on forever.
I watched the first 3 seasons of American Idol. The voting procedures on this show ticked me off. Instead of just one vote per person, you can vote numerous times. So young girls who thought their favorite performer was cute can vote multiple times even if said favorite didn’t have any talent.
During season one Kelly Clarkson won the competition. I was rooting for Tamyra Gray but she was booted off too soon. The finale should have been Kelly vs Tamyra. Kelly went on to have a very successful career.
The season two finale was Ruben Studdard vs Clay Aiken. I was rooting for Ruben Studdard and he won season 2. But from the way the media reacted you would have thought Clay Aiken won. Clay received most of the media attention. That’s the mainstream media for you. Ruben went on to have a successful career in r&b and gospel.
Season 3 was the last time I watched American Idol. This season featured Fantasia Barrino, LaToya London and Jennifer Hudson. LaToya was my season 3 favorite.
I really enjoyed watching this season in the beginning. Then the worst happened. Jennifer Hudson was booted off. Yet John Stevens got to stay. I couldn’t believe that mess. John was horrible. Lots of folks were ticked off over that result. The two finalists were Fantasia and Diana DeGarmo and Fantasia won. In my opinion the finale should have been Fantasia vs LaToya or Fantasia vs Jennifer. Fantasia has gone on to have a very successful singing and acting career. I didn’t stop watching American Idol because of Fantasia’s win. I stopped watching because of how someone as talented as Jennifer could get the boot before a non-talent in my eyes like John Stevens could stay on the show. To me American Idol became a popularity show instead of a talent show.
After season three I would read about the show and with the exception of Carrie Underwood and Jordin Sparks the other winners were pretty much forgettable. Carrie has become the most successful Idol winner and Jordin, who became the youngest winner has a successful singing and acting career. Season 4 contestant Chris Daughtry became more popular than the winner Taylor Hicks. Who in the hell voted for Taylor Hicks? And season 8 contestant Adam Lambert received more media hype than winner Kris Allen.
Overall the show did launch the careers of many young singers. The person I was really happy for was Jennifer Hudson. Despite being booted off the show too early she has gone on to have a very successful career and would eventually win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Dreamgirls.
Congrats to executive producer Shonda Rhimes. She currently has three shows on ABC: Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How To Get Away With Murder.
Her fourth show, The Catch has been picked up for the 2015-2016 television season by ABC. Shonda was executive producer of The Practice and the short lived series Off The Map.
“The Catch” from Shondaland’s Rhimes and Betsy Beers follows a female forensic accountant whose career specialty is exposing fraud for a living. Much like the leading ladies of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder,” the sure-to-be fierce woman at the forefront of the crime thriller is not all she appears to be and has a tumultuous love life. She’s about to get married, but also about to get conned by her fiancé — little does he know, her lies end up colliding with his cons.
The Catch stars Mireille Enos, Bethany Joy Lenz, Alimi Ballard, Rose Rollins and Jay Hayden. The only name I’m familiar with is Alimi Ballard. I remember him from the CBS show Numb3rs.
Looks like I will have another Shondaland show to add to my dvr.
It was announced today that the 1977 miniseries Roots will be remade into an event series.
A&E Networks announced on Thursday that the landmark mini-series “Roots” would be remade into an event series, scheduled to air in 2016.
The series will run simultaneously on three cable networks: History, A&E and Lifetime. (The networks took the same approach in 2013 with the mini-series “Bonnie and Clyde.”) Like the original, “Roots” will be based primarily on Alex Haley’s novel “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” which is about the life and descendants of the slave Kunta Kinte.
Will Packer is the executive producer and the original Roots star Levar Burton will be co-executive producer.
I don’t know about this. When it comes to reboots or remakes some tv shows/movies need to be left alone. This show is considered a television a classic.
Roots was nominated for 37 Emmy nominations and won nine. The History Channel has had major success with other event series including The Bible and The Hatfield and The McCoys. On May 25 the History Channel will premiere another miniseries, Texas Rising. Looks like the History Channel is on a roll when it comes to scripted programming.
Yesterday Verizon started offering a new plan where you can choose the cable channels you want. I checked it out yesterday and the new plan has a variety of channels including ABC, CBS, NBC, HGTV, CNN, QVC, PBS, Hallmark Movies and the Food Network. After looking at all the channels available in the main plan it looks more family and religious oriented. I look at these channels as more safe channels if you know what I mean. If you have young children this plan is perfect for you.
You also get to choose 2 channel packs at no extra charge. The Lifestyle package includes Lifetime, Bravo, History, LMN, Hallmark Channel and Travel Channel.
The Entertainment Package includes TBS, TNT, TCM, USA, Syfy, FXX, WGN America and FX.
The News and Info package includes Fox News, MSNBC, Science, CNBC, C-SPAN and Discovery Channel.
The Pop Culture package includes ABC Family, BET, CMT, Centric, Pivot, Spike and Revolt.
The Kids Channel includes Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, Tv Land Boomerang and Cartoon Network.
The Sports Channel includes ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports 1, Big Ten Network, Sec Network and NBCSN.
The Sports Plus package includes NBA TV, NFL Network, ESPN News, Regional Sports Networks, NHL Network and the Golf Channel. If you want more than the 2 channel packs it will cost you $10 more per month each.
There are quite a few channels from most of the various packages that I like. I like LMN, Investigation Discovery and OWN. I also like TNT, TBS, USA and TCM. Being a football and basketball fan I like ESPN, EPSN2, NFL Network and NBA TV. You have to take what they give you. And then I’m wondering about the channels that I don’t see in any of the packages. Where is TV One (love this channel), Chiller TV (love horror movies), MeTv, BBC America (Orphan Black, Luther and Broadchurch), Axs TV and BBC World News. Now after looking over all these selections I decided to keep my Ultimate Package which has over 400 channels. I have to have my TV One, Chiller TV and BBC America.
A couple of weeks ago Independent Lens on PBS aired the documentary Little White Lie. The documentary was directed by Lacey Schwartz. Little White Lie is about Lacey growing up as a white Jewish girl in Woodstock, New York. Only problem is she isn’t white. Her mother hid from her who she really is. Lacey’s biological father was black but Lacey was raised by her parents as white and Jewish.
The documentary “Little White Lie” would be provocative simply for what it says about race and identity. The director Lacey Schwartz grew up Jewish in Woodstock, N.Y., yet something seemed off. Her peers would ask if she was adopted. At Ms. Schwartz’s bat mitzvah, a member of her synagogue assumed she was an Ethiopian Jew. Her family attributed her darker skin to a Sicilian great-grandfather. Only gradually did Ms. Schwartz, now 37, begin to suspect what might seem obvious to an outsider: that her biological father was black.
“Little White Lie” is, in part, the story of Ms. Schwartz’s evolving view of her background. As a child, she thought of herself as white and even wished for a lighter complexion. College changed that: Although she didn’t declare a race on her application, she says Georgetown considered her a black student based on a photograph. She was welcomed by the Black Student Alliance and began to experience the influence that race has on everyday life.
I really enjoyed this documentary. Imagine growing up thinking you are of a certain race or ethnicity and find out later that you are of a different race. Lacey was told that her dark skin came from her Sicilian great-grandfather. I was angry at Lacey’s parents for lying to her about her background. How can a parent lie to their child about their background?
Check out this interview with Lacey at PBS.org.