‘Empire’ Cast & Execs Profoundly Roar As First Up At PaleyFest
By: Sharoll Jackson
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 03/11/2016 – Empire fans eagerly received a Lyons’ roar in the Dolby Theater at PaleyFest with the premiere screening of Fox’s upcoming March 30 episode, “Death Will Have His Day,” taking off with Lucious’ battle for ownership, Hakeem’s cut-throat vote and positioning, Rhonda’s fall and mystery assailant, and most of all, Cookie’s answer to: What’s Cookie going to do? A provocative, heartfelt Q&A followed as moderator, Kevin Frazier, hosted the Empire panel including cast member notables Terrence Howard, Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Gray, Gabourey Sidibe, and Trai Byers; along with co-creator Lee Daniels, and executive producers Brian Glazer and Ilene Chaiken. Although Taraji P. Henson was unable to attend due to a filming commitment in Atlanta, her thoughts of love and appreciation were shared as the evening’s panel discussion revealed behind-the-scenes insight and secrets with their audience.
Daniels reflected on the first half of Season 2 when the show veered a little to the “left”, saying “that it was growing pains…a learning process and trying things out” and added “how to you make greatness without testing it?”
An aspect of greatness was attested to by Glazer, who boasted that “each one of these artists…have continued to evolved.” Howard piped in highlighting the fact that Empire is a show that “has lead actors” who “are writing their own songs and producing their own songs.” Smollet added ,”we’re able to bring on so many indie artists” as well as guest star appearances. When working on the musical aspect, Chaiken, shared that they pack in the time needed so that “the song services the story” which undeniably layers the emotional experience for viewers.
Howard expressed how great it is to be with the Empire community saying, “we are literally a real family.” Sidibe admitted that they “giggle through a lot fo the scenes.” Byers, who battled reports of leaving the show proclaimed “No, there’s not a stitch of truth to it” which Howard followed jokingly saying “I begged Trai to please stay on the show.” Daniels laughingly added that he doesn’t “call them by their real names” but by their show names – Lucious, Cookie, Jamal, Hakeem, and Trai. Sidibe confirmed that “he still calls me Precious” which sent the audience into waves of laughter.
The mic was passed to the audience and the very last person chosen was a young lady, a big sister who had brought her brother to the PaleyFest event – a new discovery for the both of them. Her brother, here on a visit and a participant in an event for people with special needs, is a huge Empire fan and he watches the show everyday. He had a question for Lucious, asking what happened to Bucky. Howard lit it up – raised both hands – shook his head – flashed that bad boy smile announcing “I didn’t know anything about it, I went my way and he went his way” and the audience roared.
Family love is evident on screen because it is there off screen. Empire is back.