Empire, the hip-hop drama that stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, has broken a ratings record that stood for more than 23 years, according to Entertainment Weekly.
The show is averaging 14 million viewers and a strong 5.6 rating among adults 18-19, so far for the first two weeks of the season with total DVR data available, the report notes. Fox says the show is the only primetime scripted series to grow in total viewers over each of its first five telecasts since at least 1991 and is the strongest hour-long show this season, the news outlet reports.
While the record may have stood for longer than that, the report notes, Nielsen revised its measuring system 23 years ago “and so comparisons can only be properly calculated that far back.”
Further to its credit, Empire is technically the only series—not just scripted—to have earned such an accomplishment, the entertainment news site writes. ABC’s game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire grew through each of its first five telecasts in 1999, but they were technically considered “specials” when the show first started instead of regular episodes, according to the news outlet.
There appears to be no slowing down Fox drama “Empire,” which drew its largest overall audience yet on Wednesday and again stood as the night’s dominant program in all key demographics. This week, it built by its biggest demo margins to date on its winning “American Idol” lead-in while pulling ahead of the reality show in total viewers for the first time.
According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “Empire” averaged a 4.3 rating/12 share in adults 18-49 and 11.3 million viewers overall — just about on par with last week’s series high in the demo and gaining about 250,000 total viewers to hit a high by that measure. After premiering with about 9.9 million viewers on Jan. 7, “Empire” has grown to 10.3 million, 11.0 million and now 11.3 million week to week.
It has also grown with each week in adults 18-34 rating, premiering to a 2.9 and rising to a 3.4, 3.6 and to a 3.9 last night.
The show continues to generate a young, diverse audience, averaging a whopping 60 share among African-Americans heading into last night and standing as the season’s No. 1 program among blacks in adults 18-49, 25-54 and 18-34. But it’s also the No. 1 new series and broadcast drama among English-speaking Hispanic adults under 50.
PASADENA, California (AP) — The creator of Fox’s prime-time soap “Empire” said he wants to “blow the lid off homophobia” in the African-American community with a depiction of the show’s lead character’s hostile relationship with his gay son.
Lee Daniels, who was also behind the movies “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and “Precious,” said that his own father’s hostility toward gays frightened him and he knows the same attitudes are being passed on from one generation to another in households around the world.
“What we’re trying to do is to give people the opportunity to see that what they’re doing is painful,” Daniels said at a television conference on Saturday.
“Empire,” the story of a strong-willed music family whose patriarch, Lucious Lyon, is portrayed by actor Terrence Howard, has gotten off to a strong start this month at the ratings-challenged Fox network. The series had the unusual feat of growing in viewership from its premiere week to its second, compelling Fox to quickly give the go-ahead to a second season.
During the show’s first episode, Lyon learns he has a fatal disease and is battling with his just-released-from-jail wife over which of their three sons will take over their music empire. Lyon is openly hostile to his gay son Jamal. During a flashback, Lyon is shown stuffing Jamal into a garbage can when he sees the boy trying on his mother’s high heels.
“I’m glad that I can show the African-American community that this is what you’re doing to your son, this is what you’re doing to your nephew, this is what you’re doing to the kid down the street,” Howard said.
Daniels said that he believes if his father were alive today, he would have evolved in his thinking.
Jussie Smollett, the actor who portrays Jamal, said he’s been overwhelmed by the response to the story line that he has seen in social media.
If there are viewers who can see themselves in Jamal, “that’s incredibly dope and I embrace that,” Smollett said.
At a time the movie industry is under fire for its commitment to diversity — only white actors received nominations when last week’s Oscar contenders were announced — “Empire” is seen as making strides in that area.
Taraji P. Henson, the actress who plays Lucious’ wife Cookie, said entertainment executives take notice when shows dominated by minority cast members make money.
Viewers want to see people who look like them on television, Smollett said. They’re also interested in people that don’t look like them, he said.
“Right now we’re seeing people enjoy the culture of America, the culture of the world,” Daniels said. “We’re showing real life now.”
Series starring African-American actresses are a big trend next season. Chalk it up to the popularity of ABC’s “Scandal” and the visibility of its glamorous star, Kerry Washington, or maybe a bolt of lightning that suddenly hit Hollywood after Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis got Oscar nominations in the same year for “The Help.” (Spencer won for Best Supporting Actress.) Any way you look at it, sisterhood is powerful.
Spencer, who has had a recurring role on CBS’ “Mom” this season and was rumored at one point to star in a remake of “Murder, She Wrote,” gets her own show in “Red Band Society,” a Fox medical drama that involves many supporting teenage characters who live at the hospital where Spencer is a doctor. Similarly, ABC recently ordered a new Shonda Rhimes series, “How to Get Away With Murder” starring Viola Davis as a law professor who gets wrapped up in a murder mystery with four students.
Taraji P. Henson, who was killed off CBS’ “Person of Interest” this season, dusted herself off and will report for duty on “Empire,” a new, soap-style series about the world of hip-hop music from Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, who collaborated on the smash film “The Butler.” Henson plays Cookie Lyon, the former business partner and ex-wife of Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), a music mogul trying to stay relevant.
Veteran actress Alfre Woodard has played everything from a freed slave in “12 Years a Slave” to a desperate housewife. She’s on the upswing, career-wise. Woodard is going to play the president to Katherine Heigl’s crusading CIA agent in the NBC drama “State of Affairs.”
Finally, Rashida Jones has been cast as “Angie Tribeca,” a TBS satire on police procedurals that was created by Jones’ “Office” co-star Steve Carell and his wife, Nancy.
The family drama from Imagine TV and 20th Century Fox TV stars Terrence Howard as industry heavyweight Lucious Lyon, a tough but wise patriarchal figure. The cast also includes Taraji P. Henson, Gabourey Sidibe, Trai Byers, Kaitlin Doubleday, Grace Gealey, Bryshere ‘Yazz the Greatest’ Gray, Jussie Smollett and Malik Yoba.
The project reteams “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”‘s Daniels and Strong, who co-wrote this pilot with Daniels directing. Grammy Award-winning Tim “Timbaland” Mosley wrote the music for the pilot — marking the first time Mosley has worked so closely on a drama pilot. Executive producers are Brian Grazer, Daniels, Strong and Francie Calfo.
Malik Yoba is set to co-star opposite Terrence Howard in Fox’s hip-hop industry drama pilot Empire, from Lee Daniels, Danny Strong and Brian Grazer. It centers on Lucious Lyon (Howard), a charismatic, savvy music superstar who is about to take his company, Empire Entertainment, public. Yoba, repped by Innovative and the Arlook Group, will play Vernon Turner, Lucious’s longtime friend from the streets and business associate who is now the chairman of the board of Empire Entertainment.
Grammy Award-winner Tim “Timbaland” Mosley has signed on to write and produce the music for the Fox pilot,Empire. The family drama, which is written by Daniels and Danny Strong and directed by Daniels, is set in the world of the hip-hop industry and stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. It’s executive-produced by Daniels, Strong, Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo. It will feature original and current music.
This world is something Mosley understands well. In 2013 alone, the sought-after producer, songwriter and rapper produced and co-wrote multiple tracks on four of the year’s biggest selling multi-platinum-albums: Magna Carta Holy Grail, The 20/20 Experience Part I and Part II, and Beyoncé. While he has worked with movie productions before, this endeavor marks the first time Mosley has worked so closely on a drama pilot.
Hustle & Flow co-stars Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard will be reuniting to headline Empire, the Fox TV pilot helmed by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong. The drama takes place in the midst of a family-run hip-hop empire. Howard will be playing Lucious Lyon, who runs a record label. Henson will be playing Lucious’ ex-wife, Cookie Lyon, an ex-con who has just been released after serving 17 years in prison for dealing drugs to fund Lucious’ then-struggling record label. After being released for good behavior, naturally, Cookie is looking to reclaim what’s hers.
As if all of that isn’t enough, it turns out that Cookie was the driving force behind Lucious’ rise to super stardom and now she’s looking to do the same with the couple’s homosexual son, Jamal, who will be played by Jussie Smollet. This puts Cookie at odds with Lucious, who has rejected and shunned his son since childhood because of his sexuality. Jamal is actually the couple’s middle son of three and is described as “a sensitive soul and musical prodigy who could easily rise to superstardom if he desires.”
The nominees for the 45th NAACP Image Awards were announced on Jan. 9, and 12 Years A Slave and Lee Daniels’ The Butler lead the pack with seven nominations each, including nods in the coveted Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture categories. Other multiple nominees include the Kerry Washington-starrer Scandal and Kevin Hart‘s BET comedy Real Husbands of Hollywood, each coming in with five nods in the television drama and comedy categories.
In addition to being nominated for her role as Olivia Pope on Scandal, Washington also received a nomination in the Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture category for her role in the film Tyler Perry Presents Peeples. Angela Bassett went one better and landed three acting nominations, for her film performance in Black Nativity, and her outstanding television work in Betty and Coretta and American Horror Story: Coven. Terrence Howard was the most-nominated male actor, grabbing dual nods for his performances in Lee Daniels’ The Butler and The Best Man Holiday.
In music, Robin Thicke garnered four nominations for Blurred Lines, including Outstanding Male Artist and Outstanding Album, while Janelle Monae was the most-nominated female artist, gaining honors in the Outstanding Female Artist, Outstanding Album and Outstanding Music Video categories.
The Image Awards are presented annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the group’s members select the winners. The 45th annual NAACP Image Awards is set to air on Feb. 22 on the TV One channel at 9 p.m. CT.
Check out the full list of nominations below:
Outstanding Comedy Series
“House of Lies”
“Real Husbands of Hollywood”
“The Soul Man”
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series
Andre Braugher – “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
Cedric The Entertainer – “The Soul Man”
Don Cheadle – “House of Lies”
DuleHill – “Psych”
Kevin Hart – “Real Husbands of Hollywood”
Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series
Aisha Tyler – “Archer”
Mindy Kaling – “The Mindy Project”
Niecy Nash – “The Soul Man”
Tasha Smith – “Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse”
Wendy Raquel Robinson – “The Game”
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Boris Kodjoe – “Real Husbands of Hollywood”
Jerry “J B Smoove” Brooks – “Real Husbands of Hollywood”
Morris Chestnut – “Nurse Jackie”
Nick Cannon – “Real Husbands of Hollywood”
Tracy Morgan – “30 Rock”
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Anna Deavere Smith – “Nurse Jackie”
Brandy Norwood – “The Game”
Nia Long – “House of Lies”
Rashida Jones – “Parks and Recreation”
Sofia Vergara – “Modern Family”
Outstanding Drama Series
“The Good Wife”
Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
James Pickens, Jr. – “Grey’s Anatomy”
LL Cool J – “NCIS: Los Angeles”
Michael Ealy – “Almost Human”
Shemar Moore – “Criminal Minds”
Wendell Pierce – “Treme”
Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
Chandra Wilson – “Grey’s Anatomy”
Kerry Washington – “Scandal”
Khandi Alexander – “Treme”
Nicole Beharie – “Sleepy Hollow”
Regina King – “SouthLAnd”
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Columbus Short – “Scandal”
Guillermo Diaz – “Scandal”
Jeffrey Wright – “Boardwalk Empire”
Joe Morton – “Scandal”
Michael Kenneth Williams – “Boardwalk Empire”
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Archie Panjabi – “The Good Wife”
Debbie Allen – “Grey’s Anatomy”
Diahann Carroll – “White Collar”
Taraji P. Henson – “Person of Interest”
Vanessa L. Williams – “666 Park Avenue”
Although Thor: The Dark World hung on to the No. 1 spot at the box office this weekend, the big story was a stellar opening for The Best Man Holiday, which trounced all expectations to debut with a studio-estimated $30.6-million. Disney’s 3-D sequel Thor: the Dark World took in a solid $38.5-million, which represented an expected 55% drop from its opening weekend when it grossed $86 million.
The Best Man Holiday received a coveted average grade of A+ from moviegoers, according to market research firm CinemaScore. That means it joins an elite club of films that have enjoyed long and fruitful box office runs, including Argo, 42, The Help, The King’s Speech, The Blind Side and Titanic. Going into the weekend, the distributor Universal Pictures projected that The Best Man Holiday would take in a modest $17 million, while prerelease audience surveys indicated the film would start off with around $23 million.
“There’s no crystal ball in guessing this stuff,” said Nikki Rocco, Universal’s president of distribution. “It was fair to think this film— where 87% of the audience was African American—would open in the high teens.” That it nearly doubled that estimate is “a phenomenal result,” said Rocco. “I would never have thought in my most non-lucid moment to expect this — the picture only cost $17-million.” Thanks to the A+ CinemaScore, Rocco says she believes the film will eventually reach a broader audience.
The Best Man Holiday, which is about a group of friends gathering for Christmas, is a sequel to 1999’s The Best Man which grossed $34 million. Both films were directed by Malcolm D. Lee and star a number of the same actors, including Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard and Nia Long.