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By Nigeria Anderson



In media there is a saying if the wheel is not broke don’t try to reinvent a new one. Since  television begin somewhere, its purpose and plan has not changed. Their programming methods are to keep us watching. Providing viewers with unique entertainment to say the least. It has been a long time coming  before we would see so many African Americans on television.  Some say it’s because we have an African American President.  Well, that could be and we shall see when he leaves office.  No matter the reason, for most of us it is an exciting time to see people of color in both film and television. I normally stick to reporting on Key Players only.  Simply because Key Players have understanding and I don’t have to beat around the bush asking “industry standard question” and receive boring “ industry standard responses.”  However, I thought it necessary to place a voice to FOX’s new television series EMPIRE. Especially, after reading all the similar reviews and public relation promotion about the show. I have been in the company of both lead actors Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) and Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson).  Considering this fact, we will bend our rule. However, no handouts they are not official Key Players. So, this is just me talking to you about television shenanigans.

EMPIRE’s ratings were at 10.3 million viewers first show. The success landed the show a second season hmm.  My question is: What is all the love, hate and hoopla about? The Lyons family story line is television 101 playbook practice. Giving viewers what they want.  First it was 50 Cent cashing in on free publicity for his show Power.  Sidebar Power has a better story line. Clearing my throat. Then critics brought up old charges against Terrence Howard and FOX was like oh we did not know.  A media giant like FOX who don’t really like Black folks did not know or report about Terrence Howard’s incident. Okay, whatever!

EMPIRE has a plethora of star power appearances adding a sense of who will be on there next including rumors of Denzel Washington to appear. Talk about media hustle.  Although, I was glad to see my girl Gladys Knight, I am sure that was Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) pulling out her guns out figuratively speaking.  Anyway, the best hoopla on the table is my friend Diddy. The Golden Child. Mr. Music Industry himself. Listen here! FOX  you can mock the President of the United States Barack Obama on your show and nobody say anything or put you in your place. However, you will not pimp or mock Quincy Diddy’s son. Game recognize game Heck nawh, we know how you all treat American Idol and The Voice artists. Not having it. Boom in your face time to renegotiate. News flash! there is always an economic angel when it comes to having African Americans on television and film. EMPIRE’s economic angle is iTunes and Amazon.  Listen, don’t be deceived, that it is only African Americans making FOX ratings. Justsaying. Okay let me get back on track here.

Kudos for Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) and Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson). Here is the reason why I wanted to speak on this show.  I really wanted to touch on both actors career resume. These two have something special. They by far are not your regular stereotyped Black actors. Their chemistry is spectacular on screen. It’s like everyone forgot all the movies they’ve previously been in. I believe both actors to be the most progressive African American actors working in the business right now.  The truth is Taraji P. Henson is not your conventional sista girl actress. She is about her business. Terrence Howard has not failed me in a role yet. This is simply the truth. I am speaking about their acting abilities only. Clearing my throat I did say I have been in their company right? Anyway, Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard have a modern TNT (Taraji & Terrence) explosive, Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams chemistry onscreen.  EMPIRE is a television series with great potential if they can get the storyline tight.  It has all the ingredients of a long running nighttime television show. It follows basic propaganda to keep viewers returning week after week like other television shows such as Dallas and Dynasty.  I read one journalist review which said, it’s a hip-hop age Dynasty. Umm Not!

My gripe about the story line.  I’m confused why anyone is talking about the gay son.  I am not being unsympathetic about the role of the gay son.  How in the heck could that be something anyone is upset about or an issue to discuss?  When we live in a society where gay people can get married. See what I am saying shenanigans.  That is not shocking or an issue not even in the African American community, hello, being gay is out everything is out.  I guess it would’ve been a shocker if homosexualty was still discrete.  When we found out Stephen was gay on Dynasty that was something to talk about. Legends like Joan Collins and Diahann Carroll made room for Cookie’s character. I will note the trash can scene was reported real. Respectfully, it’s not like they had a Public Service Announcement (PSA) after the show regarding help for parents with gay children or something. I was more offended when she call the boyfriend a little Mexican. Besides all of that these two Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) and Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) are doing a good job. If one of them leave the show it will be a rap. So, I hope they find a cure for Lucious.

My concern is when the EMPIRE masquerade is over as well as the rest of the reality shows we fuss about. Watching all the buffoonery is a bit much but if you do not watch it guess what? It will go back to just us watching them. I have been blessed to be a media partner on a lot of projects. I have even turned some down that I just thought I can’t attach to that. This is why we are Where Key Players Spek! a voice fair and true.  I want to help push those who are really desiring to make a difference to have a platform which focuses on talent, skills and abilities. Allow me to give you an educational lesson on the real disparity between SOME African American in the arts and others and why I feel it is crucial to support all efforts. The truth is we have to actually watch it all to help create diversity. When we don’t mainstream media says well, we put a positive show on and we did not get the numbers and the show gets canceled. After the first night of EMPIRE what was media’s first response. The numbers and next thing bam another season.

The most notable about EMPIRE is the authenticity. It has the recipe for good television love, feuding, drama, cliffhangers, murder, greed, betrayal and comedy. It all makes for a popcorn night with front row seats.  EMPIRE is a secular and commercial culture program which FOX is an expert on producing. The predominantly all African American cast, with a host of who’s who visits will keep most returning each week. My prayer is this. I want one of our African Americans actors to reach these levels through their craft? For example: Arnold Schwarzenegger, resume reads; an Austrian born American actor, producer, activist, businessman, investor, writer, philanthropist, former professional bodybuilder and politician. Schwarzenegger served two terms as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011. Another point I want to share.  Ronald Reagan, began a career as an actor, first in films and later in television. Reagan served as President of the Screen Actors Guild and he was 40th President of the United States (1981–89). I am sure you get my point.

Finally, and I am done.The truth will be what I see  Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) and Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) do when FOX say its over. Not sure if one of them will become governor or president but in my voice from the film TAKEN Good Luck! and good job with the show. You guys rock.

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