Kingdoms at war in new season of ‘Empire’

21 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Emmys fashion: Who took the red carpet?.

Their characters, once-married Lucious and Cookie Lyon, are still business rivals as the show begins its second season Wednesday (9 p.m. 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 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.

Howard chain-smokes between takes, while Henson – a tough Cookie on screen – squeals repeatedly when a bee circles her as she taps on an iPad.CHICAGO – Terrence Howard and Taraji P. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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.

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. Henson, Jussie Smollett, and Trai Byers. (Photo: Anne Ryan, USA TODAY) “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. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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?

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. 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. 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. 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. 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, 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. 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.

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). 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.

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. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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.

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