‘Empire’ Season 2: TV Review

21 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Emmys fashion: Who took the red carpet?.

USA TODAY makes a visit to the set of Fox’s soapy hip-hop drama, “Empire,” last season’s biggest new TV hit, returning Sept. 23. “Empire” Terrence Howard, left, Bryshere Gray, Taraji P. Eric Wilson, fashion news director for InStyle magazine, called the gown fantastic and said its “transparency through the skirt and a keyhole cutout with tough chain straps sent me over the edge.” Designer Michael Costello also praised the dress, saying, “She looked beautiful, but I wasn’t so sure about the chains. Henson wowed in a custom lace Alexander Wang gown in black with bike-chain straps, and Amy Schumer stepped up her fashion game in a strapless blue Zac Posen as the Emmys parade of pretty kicked off Sunday in Los Angeles on a sweltering red carpet. Henson, the stars of Empire, TV’s biggest new hit in years, are standing under the elevated subway tracks here, filming a scene as trains rumble by above. Henson of Empire used a cardboard fan to create a breeze for herself, while actress Jaimie Alexander used an electric fan from the moment she stepped onto the red carpet, putting it away only to take photos.

The cut was great for Taraji.” Matthew Marden, fashion director for Details magazine, called Henson “absolutely stunning,” also choosing Sarah Paulson’s off-the-shoulder custom Prabal Gurung in sparkling black and blue in a tie for best-dressed. The 45-year-old was delighted to be showcasing her curvy figure on her big night, and took great delight in using her train as a makeshift cape when posing for the photographers. Of the designer, Henson said: “He was my first date to the Met ball so I thought he should shine tonight.” If two is a trend then count Claire Danes with Henson as she, too, went for chunky chain details, her look a purple sequin Prada with gold links at the shoulders and sides. She has become one of the most popular names on the small screen due to her scene-stealing turn as Cookie, who is the ex-wife of Lucious Lyon and the co-founder of Empire Entertainment. However the deck may be stacked against her winning the Emmy, as she is up against the likes of House of Cards star Robin Wright, Homeland favourite Claire Danes and How to Get Away with Murder Viola Davis.

The Mad Men daughter has been a regular at New York Fashion Week and showed up in an embroidered yellow top and black wool cigarette pants, all by Dior Haute Couture. “I just don’t understand. Henson as Cookie Lyon and Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon in the ÒThe Devils Are HereÓ Season Two premiere episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Sept. 23 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo: Chuck Hodes/FOX.) That’s not the only thing buzzing around the hip-hop soap, which last spring became the first show, at least since 1991, to build its audience every single week. The series, centered on a family and its record label, averaged 17.3 million viewers (26 million across all platforms), had the youngest audience of any big-network drama and marked the top-rated freshman series among young adults in 10 years. He called the combination of the delicately embroidered, lavishly gilded top and the skinny trousers a “refreshing take on young Hollywood.” The Blindspot actress was liquid and lovely in multicoloured Armani Prive, her hair superslick and swept off her face. In her mind that’s how strong she is.’ The Baby Boy star also noted about her personal struggles, becoming pregnant while striving to be an actress: ‘I didn’t have time to go to the club to ‘network.’ That’s B.S.

Just 12 episodes aired last spring, but 18 are planned for this season, split between a 10-episode arc this fall and, after a few months off, eight more next spring. “We pick up three months later, and there’s still discord in the family,” Henson says. “People don’t trust each other, allies are now rivals; I mean, it’s a mess.” “If the first season of Empire was built around the premise of who will inherit the throne, which is a full-on Shakespearean concept, Season 2 is warring kingdoms,” says executive producer Ilene Chaiken. “There are new alliances and new dynamics. It’s about the lengths the Lyons will go to thwart one another, and how they can possibly continue to love one another in the midst of all that.” Cookie, Andre (Trai Byers), Hakeem and Anika (Grace Gealey) are forming a rival company. Alexander said she loved the high neck and long sleeves because they hid “all the leftover tattoo residual stuff I have on my body right now,” referring to the tats her character sports on NBC.

Lucious is in jail after being arrested for the murder of Cookie’s cousin Bunkie but later forms business ties with Jamal (Jussie Smollett), the gay son he’d cast aside. “Jamal and Cookie are not really seeing eye to eye, (and) his loyalty kind of goes with Lucious for awhile because it feels like Cookie was the disloyal one,” Smollett says. “I love showing that dynamic of Lucious putting aside his silly beliefs and realizing that the one that was most like him was the one that he thought was least like him. Jaimie Alexander of NBC’s “Blindspot” glistened from neck to toe in a body-hugging, blue, purple and red Armani Prive she wore with a slicked-back ’do and delicate purple crystal earrings from Baccarat. Lucious is not, overnight, this incredible person, but still, it’s going someplace, and I feel like it’s showing people can change.” Henson says the dynamic adds new story possibilities. “Who would think there’d be no more Team Cookie and Jamal? Marden named Hugh Dancy in a Ralph Lauren Black Label double-breasted tuxedo and Claire Danes in sparkling, purple Prada with a bit of heavy gold link on the sides as his best-dressed couple.

Out of the shadows comes this relationship with her other two sons, which we didn’t explore at all.” Hotheaded Hakeem is adrift. “His music is unorthodox now; it’s not organized, he doesn’t have a main focus on what he wants to make,” Gray says. “He’s getting frustrated with himself because it’s not coming together, so he has his ups and downs.” His parents’ feud is having an impact, too: “He doesn’t have any guidance, he don’t feel loved. London Fashion Week is emphasising downtown chic this year over British tradition, abandoning its home in the venerable Somerset House on the River Thames for a converted parking garage in Soho. He’s trying to be a man through managing girls and messing up and stuff like that.” “Be prepared to see a completely different side of Andre, in a way that could aid the whole family,” Byers says. “There are polar opposites trying to come together and meet in the middle. Everybody’s changing, and we need each other to see our agenda through.” Late that night, the crew shoots a scene with the entire clan in the Lyon living room. Despite the serious subject matter, the mood is upbeat; the cast seems to revel in their stardom, still new for some, and there’s a jokey camaraderie.

The designer seemed to be running out of adjectives to explain the pallet: “leaf-green prints” or “bottle green” or “avocado.” Comfortable cotton jersey tops and slacks were seen as well as fancier dresses made of silk. She was old Hollywood glamour, but we’re used to seeing that in sizes 2, 4 and 6,” he said. “It’s nice we’re now seeing it in 8, 10 and 12.” Ellie Kemper in a sleeveless, multicolored Naeem Kahn that had a sparkly, striped design earned accolades. The designers at Hunter Original used a tent-style setting on Saturday to introduce a new style of outdoor gear designed for the summer music festival season. Henson complains of gas pains (she’s juicing) and Howard looks for an assistant to bring coffee (“How do you want it?” “Black, like my momma.”) The next day finds Hakeem trying his hand at managing a girl group (he has a crush on one of its members), but things aren’t going well, on purpose, after Gray skips a rehearsal of the scene to make his choreography look more fumbling. And the festivals they have in mind seem to be in England, Scotland and Wales, since much of the collection was designed to help the hip partygoer cope with rain.

The brand, which specialises in cool, outdoor-inspired clothes and its trademark Wellington boot, offered fanciful, colourful rainwear, lighter than the traditional Burberry trench. And, to the network’s delight, its hit status has made it easier to book flashy guests: Executive producer Danny Strong says that “last season we were getting passed on all the time,” but now there’s a regular line of limos outside its sound stages: Joining returning faves such as Naomi Campbell and Jennifer Hudson are Alicia Keys, Kelly Rowland, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Common, Pitbull, and Chris Rock, who plays Lucious’s fellow convict in the season premiere. Hunter’s clout was evident in the front row crowd, which included prominent designer Stella McCartney — wearing a black dress with a dramatically plunging neckline — sitting next to American Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who wore a print dress and her familiar sunglasses. Musicians also have climbed aboard as the show promises more frequent songs, with Ne-Yo and Swizz Beatz writing alongside Timbaland, Smollett and Gray, among others.

And the story dictates a wider range of hip-hop. “Some of the music is a little bit more aggressive,” Smollett says. “A lot of Jamal’s music is little bit bigger because he was stripped down in Season 1, and now he’s going for superstar status.” Like other cast members, Howard is surprised at the show’s success – and because 63% of its audience is African-American, he says, there’s room to expand the fan base and still grow. Sibling showed off exuberant, sexy beachwear, suggesting that its clientele might jet off to Spain or Italy rather than head for English rain-soaked music festivals once July rolls around. But Empire’s stars haven’t shared in riches, at least not yet. “We don’t benefit from the show’s success,” he says, sounding miffed. (Like most TV actors, he signed a long-term deal before the pilot was even shot, but studios often renegotiate with stars of hit shows).

The male fashion sweepstakes, at least for the audience, was won by a man wearing a Derek Jeter New York Yankees jersey, complete with pinstripes, paired with sequinned blue jeans and bright yellow sneakers with a black dot pattern. Financially, “it’s like we’re just doing the pilot over again.” There’s a danger in another kind of repetition: Soaps tend to spin out of control as writers try to top themselves with more outlandish story lines. Julianne Hough attended Marchesa’s fashion week show in New York and grabbed Look No. 1 for herself, a strappy black sheer praised by some, but criticised by others as a bit too Frederick’s of Hollywood. The runway clothes were a bit more subtle, but they were designed only for the tall and the thin — and those who don’t mind revealing vast amounts of skin. There was eye-rolling over last season’s final episodes, which saw Cookie try to smother Lucious with a pillow, Jamal surprised by a love child and Lucious learning that ALS, the disease that set last season’s plot in motion by prompting him to choose an heir to his company, was misdiagnosed. “We burned through the story a little too fast last season,” Strong says. “It was fun to just do these crazy plot twists and completely undo something we had just set up moments before, but I think we maybe did it too much.” Chaiken says there was a need last season to build momentum by doing “something gasp-worthy and unexpected” in each episode, but sometimes it came from left field.

You simply don’t.” But he’s already interested in exploring a potential spinoff that looks at Cookie and Lucious’s less-fortunate families, and “what it’s like for a rich person to have 99.9% of your family still broke.” In a rarity for network television, a few actors say writers have embraced their suggestions about this season’s story lines. In between, she and creative director Anthony Vaccarello showed sexy rock chick clothes — think form-fitting black, black and more black, often with asymmetrical tops and skirts with extremely high slits — and male models wearing black floral prints that would have been favoured by Jimi Hendrix and Prince. This was what the 60s would have looked like if an expert tailor had been working behind the scenes — and if men covered their entire bodies with tattoos. It’s like a possession,” Henson says. “And I’ll say these things and they’ll yell, ‘Cut!’ and everybody’s laughing and I’ll go, ‘What happened?’ And they’ll go, ‘Say it again, do it, say some more!’” There’s a lot of Henson in Cookie, and a lot of Howard in Lucious, Smollett says, “except that Terrence’s heart is much purer than Lucious’s.

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Finding the ‘Joy’ in Jennifer Lawrence

20 Jan 2016 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Joy’ review: Jennifer Lawrence cleans up in enjoyable biopic.

Writer-director David O. Their latest collaboration — following in the footsteps of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle — is a biographical picture about the life and times of Joy Mangano.Jennifer Lawrence groans when she’s asked about singing the classic Nancy and Frank Sinatra duet Something Stupid with co-star Edgar Ramirez in her new film Joy. “David [O Russell, the movie’s director] texted me last night to ask if he could put it on the soundtrack and this is what I texted him back,” the actor says as she digs around for her mobile phone and reads out her response verbatim. “‘David, no!!!’ and it is three exclamation marks.In a very abbreviated nutshell, that actually happened to Joy Mangano, 59, the fabulously successful Long Island entrepreneur/inventor and HSN pitchwoman whose rags-to-riches journey started with the invention of a mop.

Russell has made three kinds of movies: offbeat romances (“Flirting With Disaster”), surreal comedies (“I Heart Huckabees”) and dramas about dysfunctional yet appealing families (“The Fighter”). In real life, Mangano is the Long Island housewife and inventor who became famous and eventually rich after bouts of near-bankruptcy, by creating and marketing her Miracle Mop. Out Boxing Day in Australia, the film stars Jennifer Lawrence in the fictionalised life story of Joy Mangano, a single mum from Long Island who made her fortune selling a mop. On Christmas Day, “Joy,” a movie inspired by her struggles as a divorced, single mother turned mogul by way of that mop, will open at movie theaters across America.

This was before she hooked up with the giant Home Shopping Network, becoming their most effective pitch person and eventually selling her parent company, Ingenious Designs, to HSN. Gross, I can’t listen to it; I have to go to bed.’ And I said yes, but it’s a groaning, reluctant yes.” It’s the kind of unfiltered moment you come to expect when interviewing Lawrence, who may now be one of the most famous actors on the planet but still blurts out whatever she’s thinking with such self-deprecating charm it’s impossible not to be, well, charmed.

Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as Miracle Mop inventor and QVC pitchwoman Joy Mangano glues the movie together, but it threatens to unravel at any time. Lawrence, 25, looks genuinely surprised when complimented about how unchanged she seems from our earlier interviews before the fame and Oscars. “But there would be no reason to change,” she says with a shrug. “I just have a job and I love my job. In the film, Lawrence’s Mangano is a colourful character, a single mom with a unique relationship and friendship with her ex-husband, and an enterprising woman who parlays her creativity into an incredibly successful business.

Mom (Virginia Madsen) stays in her bedroom and watches soap operas, until she falls for a Haitian plumber (Jimmy Jean-Louis) who fixes a hole in her bedroom floor. She landed minor roles on TV shows such as Monk, Cold Case and Medium before her 2010 indie film Winter’s Bone led to her becoming the second youngest best actress Oscar nominee in history. This is true even when the film tilts off its rocker with a bit of Russell-esque madness built into the screenplay, and with the director failing to always keep the energy going. That resulted in not only a string of critically acclaimed films, an Academy Award and another Oscar nomination, but also her very own mega-franchise as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.

Joy’s grandma (endearing Diane Ladd) delivers messages of empowerment and smooths over constant fights, but she’s opposed by the money-grubbing rich woman (Isabella Rossellini) who dates Joy’s dad and sends negative messages about her. Lawrence’s endearing habit of speaking her mind resulted in a controversial essay she penned on Lena Dunham’s website about her discovery during the Sony hacks that she was being paid less “than the lucky people with dicks” on her recent films, including American Hustle. “I completely understand when people say actors shouldn’t talk about politics and things they don’t know about, but this was my gender at stake and it was being threatened with unfairness and I thought, ‘What is the point of having this voice if it’s not to speak out for myself and for everyone else who can’t?’,” she says unapologetically.

Upon learning that Lawrence would be playing her mom, Miranne says, “I braced myself so I wouldn’t fall on the floor.” As for Mangano, she says Lawrence playing her “made me feel old, number one. Lawrence hangs out with a posse of celebrity girlfriends, including Amy Schumer and singer Adele, but the reason is simple. “The friendship gets expedited a lot when you meet someone you know beyond a shadow of a doubt has no agenda,” she says. Draining her savings and taking out loans, she started off small, selling her mops to local boat owners. “She persuaded QVC to take a thousand, but sales were poor and they tried to send them back,” says Mason. “She suggested letting her demonstrate it herself, and the channel agreed.” Sales skyrocketed and Mangano’s career as a QVC pitch woman was launched. That’s so amazing there aren’t even words.” Mangano and her three children didn’t view “Joy” until the Dec. 13 premiere in Manhattan, though a family outing to see “Trainwreck” included a trailer.

This is, after all, the self-confessed reality-show junkie who confessed in a recent Vogue interview that on the night of her 25th birthday party, friends surprised her with a visit from reality queen Kris Jenner, who presented her with a cake inscribed, ‘Happy Birthday, you piece of shit!’ The only time she seems tongue-tied is when asked about her relationship status, after a four-year stint with X-Men: First Class co-star Nicholas Hoult and a year with Coldplay singer Chris Martin before their breakup earlier this year. “Next!” Lawrence says in a no-nonsense voice, pausing as she decides if she’ll continue that thought. For one thing, Mangano’s childhood is not that interesting for a film, despite some flashbacks to her as a youngster (when she is played by 10-year-old Isabella Cramp, who does actually look like we imagine Lawrence could have at the same age). A satire on the acquisitiveness of the public? (Here, QVC foists unnecessary things on gullible viewers who could better save their money.) Russell doesn’t seem to know. And, of course, the grave ending would be a lie: Mangano is very much alive at the age of 59, still inventing, still pitching products, still a superstar of the American home shopping universe. There’s the Clothes It All luggage system, essentially a rolling suitcase with a removable garment bag, and the Super Chic vacuum, which releases fragrance into the air.

If I even casually say something to a reporter, that quote haunts me for the rest of my life,” she says, “so I am never, ever, ever talking about boys again!” I don’t think any of us brought enough tissues!” A good portion of the film was shot last winter in Boston, and though the always-busy Mangano was twice scheduled to visit the set, snowstorms made travel impossible. He has mixed genres successfully before, as in the anti-war comedy-drama “Three Kings,” but the blender often grinds to a halt in “Joy.” Just as we’re getting used to the realism of Mangano’s fight for respect, Russell photographs Rossellini as if she were a gargoyle.

One of her creations, the thin and velvet-covered Huggable Hanger, remains a bestseller for HSN, at more than 300 million sold, and was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. Yet in “Silver Linings Playbook,” Cooper, De Niro and Russell all supported her with fine work; here they lay back and make the movie a one-ring circus where she has to be acrobat, bareback rider and clown.

He had a presence all of his own.” At one point, Miranne says, “Jennifer grabbed Joy’s hand and said to David, ‘Look at the nails, a French manicure.’ ” (That manicure is a Mangano signature.) Lawrence revealed that in studying for her part as Joy, she watched recordings of the inventor’s early pitches on HSN, including ones for “Huggable Hangers” and found her so compelling that she wanted to buy them on the spot. There is something special when creative people get together.” Mangano’s take on Lawrence? “She’s beyond her years, so brilliant, hysterical and so talented.

Critically, Russell’s sense of wonder and beauty turns elegiac moments — especially when Joy Mangano becomes fully realized as a woman and as a business executive — into scenes of great beauty. Lawrence recently said on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” that the movie was “half Joy Mangano’s story and half [Russell’s] imagination and other powerful, strong women who inspired him.” The director mined much of his Mangano material by phone.

The cast includes Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Susan Lucci (in a mock TV soap opera that gives Joy some of its silliness) and even Melissa Rivers as her late mother Joan Rivers. There’s no situation Joy cannot overcome or circumvent.” At a Newsday photo shoot at Mangano’s luxurious but serene 42,000-square-foot mansion on 11 acres in St. As for parting advice for the ambitious? “If this movie inspires even just one more person to believe in themselves and to go after their dreams, then it’s made a very special impact in this world.

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