Lee Daniels

Why ‘Empire’s’ Cookie Lyon Is the Best Character on Television

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Only six episodes of Empire have aired so far, but the Fox hip-hop drama is already impossible to ignore. The show premiered to impressive ratings and has spent every subsequent week ticking upward, hitting series high after series high. You have, no doubt, seen your Twitter timeline explode on Wednesday nights. Maybe you even have the song “Drip Drop” stuck in your head right now. It’s an utterly infectious show, one that is not always great but never fails to entertain — thanks, mostly, to a combination Empire‘s commitment to going full-speed ahead with wonderfully crazy plots and television’s best new character: Cookie Lyon.
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Fox’s ‘Empire’ Is an Addictive, Shakespearean Soap Opera Set in the World of Hip Hop

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Empire is a hip-hop soap opera, an updated version of King Lear focused on a rap mogul, and a family drama with musical interludes. Taken together, those elements make the Fox series, which debuts Wednesday at 9pm, the most intriguing premiere of the winter television season. Add in a few more promising elements — an exemplary cast that includes Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, and Gabourey Sidibe with future appearances by Courtney Love, Naomi Campbell, and Macy Gray; original music from Timbaland; and the writing duo of Danny Strong and Lee Daniels (who also directed the pilot) — and it seems like everything is in place for a stunning and infectious drama. The question, then, is whether all of these elements can work together, of if Empire will feel overstuffed and implode the way most soapy dramas do.
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African-American Film Isn’t Having a Renaissance: Harvey Weinstein and the Myth of the “Obama Effect”

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Earlier this week, while on record with the entertainment blog The Wrap, Hollywood producer and power-player Harvey Weinstein blithely declared, “It’s a great moment [for black films]… Hopefully it signals, with President Obama, a renaissance. He’s erasing racial lines. It is the Obama effect. It’s a better country. What a great thing.”
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The 25 Essential American Indie Films, 1988-2013

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As summer movie season grinds on, one dumbed-down big-budget summer bomb following the next, it’s tempting to give up on cinema altogether (at least until fall — and the “prestige pictures” — arrive). But there are options. Go see an indie! Watch something new and good! Or better yet, catch up on some indie movie history. In the spirit of our year-by-year suggestions for must-read books and must-own albums, we’ve assembled a rundown of the essential American independent films from the past 25 years — by no means a definitive list, but a starting …Read More