Lee Daniels

Fox’s ‘Empire’ Is an Addictive, Shakespearean Soap Opera Set in the World of Hip Hop

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. … Read More

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African-American Film Isn’t Having a Renaissance: Harvey Weinstein and the Myth of the “Obama Effect”

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.” … Read More

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The 25 Essential American Indie Films, 1988-2013

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

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The Weinsteins Can’t Call Lee Daniels’ New Movie ‘The Butler,’ Because We’ll Confuse It With That 1916 Short Film

Film titles, and the ownership of them, are a tricky business. You can’t copyright a title, but the Motion… Read More

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The Morning's Top 5 Pop Culture Stories

1. As Gawker gleefully reports, it’s definitely time to take off those yellow rubber bracelets. Lance Armstrong has stepped down as chair of the Livestrong charity and lost his Nike endorsement deal just a week after a US anti-doping agency released their report on his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

2. Obligatory Janis Joplin… Read More

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This Week in Trailers: From Bond and Brad to Who-Cares Horror

Every Friday here at Flavorwire, we like to gather up the week’s new movie trailers, give them a look-see, and rank them from worst to best — while taking a guess or two about what they might tell us (or hide from us) about the movies they’re promoting. This week’s six new trailers include new films with Brad Pitt, Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman, Diane Keaton, Matthew McConaughey, Robert DeNiro, Susan Sarandon, Javier Bardem, John Cusack, and Zac Efron. Check ‘em all out after the jump, and share your thoughts in the comments. … Read More

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‘True Blood’s’ Nelsan Ellis to Play Martin Luther King, Jr.

No True Blood character is more beloved than Lafayette Reynolds, who was slated to die at the end of the first season but is still around and getting into trouble as a medium thanks to his massive popularity among the show’s fans — which is, more than anything, due to Nelsan Ellis’ likable and nuanced… Read More

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Jane Fonda to Play Nancy Reagan in Lee Daniels' 'The Butler'

Variety is reporting that political activist Jane Fonda will be playing former Republican First Lady Nancy Reagan in Lee Daniels’ upcoming film, The Butler. The Precious director’s “passion project” centers on Eugene Allen — a butler who served at the White House from 1952 to 1986, ending his career with Ronald Reagan.… Read More

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