EMPIRE: Actor Jussie Smollett & show runner Brett Mahoney – exclusive interview

Jussie Smollett as Jamal Lyon in EMPIRE | © 2018 Fox

EMPIRE, the drama about a contemporary familial music dynasty, is now in its fifth season on Wednesday nights on Fox. The Lyon family has been through a lot of reversals, including losing the company of the title at the end of Season 4. None of them are taking it lying down, least of all singer/songwriter/music producer gay middle son Jamal Lyon, played by Jussie Smollett. Smollett is himself a singer/songwriter/music producer, having launched his new indie label Music of Sound earlier this year, which brought out his new album, SUM OF MY MUSIC. As an actor, California native Smollett has […]Read On »

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Movie Review: REBEL IN THE RYE

REBEL IN THE RYE movie poster | ©2017 IFC

Rating: PG-13 Stars: Nicholas Hoult, Kevin Spacey, Sarah Paulson, Victor Garber, Hope Davis Writer: Danny Strong, inspired by the book J.D. SALINGER: A LIFE by Kenneth Slawenski Director: Danny Strong Distributor: IFC Release Date: September 8, 2017  Writing is a solitary activity that, unlike some others (bicycling, mountain climbing, even painting), is extremely difficult to make watchable. In bringing the early life of CATCHER IN THE RYE author J.D. Salinger to the screen, REBEL IN THE RYE writer/director Danny Strong deftly surmounts the challenges of the subject matter. Inspired by Kenny Slawenski’s biography J.D. SALINGER: A LIFE, Strong gives us […]Read On »

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REBEL IN THE RYE: Danny Strong on his directorial debut – Exclusive Interview

Director Danny Strong and actor Nicholas Hoult in REBEL IN THE RYE | ©2017 IFC

Danny Strong is no stranger to fact-based material. He won Emmys for writing and being one of the producers of GAME CHANGE, the HBO film about the John McCain/Sarah Palin White House run. Before that, Strong, who hails from Manhattan Beach, California, was nominated for an Emmy for writing the HBO movie RECOUNT, about the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Strong and Lee Daniels together created the Fox hit EMPIRE, which returns for its fourth season later this month; Strong directed three episodes of the series. On the feature side, Strong wrote the screenplays for THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART I […]Read On »

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EMPIRE: Director Sanaa Hamri chats Season 3 – Exclusive Interview

Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson in EMPIRE - Season 3 | ©2017 Fox Broadcasting/Michael Lavine

Fox Network’s hit musical drama EMPIRE has been renewed for a fourth season. The series concerns the Lyon clan – often-warring patriarch Lucious (Terrence Howard) and matriarch Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and their sons – who all want to control their own musical destinies and the Lyon music conglomerate. EMPIRE creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong are executive producers on the series, as is show runner Ilene Chaiken. Another executive producer is director Sanaa Hamri, who has personally helmed ten episodes and is the e.p. who helps other directors on the show find the right tone. A lot of EMPIRE’s […]Read On »

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EMPIRE: Ilene Chaiken gives the scoop on Season 3 – Exclusive Interview

Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson in EMPIRE - Season 3 | ©2016 Fox/Michael Lavine

Now in its third season Fox Network’s musical drama EMPIRE won the AFI Award for Best Television Program of the Year and a Golden Globe for leading lady Taraji P. Henson as the formidable Cookie Lyon, not to mention a massive quantity of nominations. Created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, EMPIRE follows the Lyon musical dynasty – besides Cookie, there’s her ex, performer/producer Lucious (Terrence Howard), and their three adult sons – along with their lovers, friends and enemies as they try to stay on top of the charts and with one another. Executive producer Ilene Chaiken, who is […]Read On »

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EMPIRE: Danny Strong gives the Scoop on Season 2 – exclusive interview

Terrence Howard stars in the Fox drama EMPIRE | © 2016 Chuck Hodes/FOX

At Fox Network’s party for the Television Critics Association, Danny Strong is mulling over the dessert options. Strong is at a place in his life where most of the choices are sweet. The California native co-created Fox’s epic musical drama hit EMPIRE. Strong got an Emmy nomination for his first produced script, HBO’s RECOUNT, about the 2000 U.S. presidential election, and won an Emmy for his second, HBO’s GAME CHANGE, which starred Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin. Strong wrote LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER, about the intersection of civil rights and the U.S. presidency, which Daniels directed. That collaboration led to […]Read On »

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HANNIBAL: Bryan Fuller on PUSHING DAISIES, AMERICAN GODS and more – Part 3 – Exclusive Interview

Creator and writer Bryan Fuller at WonderCon 2011 | ©2011 Assignment X/Peter Brown

In the final part of Assignment X’s exclusive interview with Bryan Fuller about HANNIBAL (NBC, Thursdays at 10 PM), the series executive producer/show runner/creator – adapting from Thomas Harris’ novels – talks about fan reaction, food as a narrative theme and more. ASSIGNMENT X: Is there anything about the fan reaction to HANNIBAL that has surprised you? BRYAN FULLER: I am not surprised and more titillated [laughs]. I’m surprised in the sense that you’re surprised when you make a new friend and they’re somebody who likes the same things that you do. And a lot of the fan reaction has […]Read On »

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EMPIRE co-star Bryshere Y. Gray on the season finale – exclusive interview

Bryshere Gray star as Hakeem in the Fox hit series EMPIRE | © 2015 Michael Lavine/FOX

Fox’s new hit EMPIRE has its two-hour first-season finale Wednesday, March 18, but have no fear – it was renewed for a second season almost immediately after it premiered to huge ratings in January. The series, created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, follows the personal and musical (and financial) fortunes of the Lyon recording dynasty, headed by ailing but iron-willed Lucious (Terrence Howard), who clashes with ex-wife Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) now that she’s out from a seventeen-year prison stretch and seeking her own piece of the company. The three Lyon sons are caught in the middle. Bryshere Y. […]Read On »

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Jussie Smollett and Taraji P. Henson on EMPIRE Season Finale – exclusive interview

Taraji P Henson in EMPIRE - Season 1 | © 2015 Fox / Michael Lavine

On Fox’s megahit EMPIRE, Wednesdays at 9 PM and renewed for a second season already, Taraji P. Henson plays Cookie Lyon, ex-wife of hip-hop record mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) and mother of his three sons. Jussie Smollett plays talented and gay middle son Jamal, the only one to visit his mother in jail while Cookie did 17 years in order to protect Lucious for going down with her. Henson, an Oscar-nominated actress who’s a veteran of many films and TV series, has been to a number of parties like the one that Fox and FX are throwing for the […]Read On »

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EMPIRE showrunner Ilene Chaiken gives the scoop on Season 1 – exclusive interview

Terrence Howard stars as Lucious in Fox's EMPIRE | © 2015 Chuck Hodes/FOX

Fox’s new drama series EMPIRE, Wednesdays at 9 PM, has turned into the kind of popular and ratings hit that would thrill its ultra-ambitious, powerhouse characters. Created by Danny Strong and Lee Daniels, EMPIRE is set in the world of hip-hop music, where terminally ill recording kingpin Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) wants to select one of his three sons – businesslike Andre (Trai Byers), talented, kind, gay Jamal (Jussie Smollett) and gifted but irresponsible Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) – to take over when he’s gone. Lucious’ ex-wife Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) returns from prison and would like to control the […]Read On »

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