Taraji P. Henson Takes The “Leap” With Fox Series ‘Empire’

Premiering Wednesday, January 7 on Fox (9 pm et/pt), Empire centers on Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), a hip hop mogul who sits on a very coveted throne in the music business. Due to his failing health, Lucious must decide which of his three sons (Bryshere Gray, Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers) will take over his “empire.”

Further complicating matters is his ex-wife Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), who’s been recently released from prison and plans to stake her claim to the family fortune.

EMPIRE: Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon on EMPIRE premiering Wednesday, Jan 7 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Michael Lavine/FOX
EMPIRE: Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon on EMPIRE premiering Wednesday, Jan 7 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Michael Lavine/FOX

With filmmaker Lee Daniels (Lee Daniels’ The Butler, The Paperboy) serving as an executive producer and Timbaland on board as the music supervisor, Empire has collected an impressive cast and crew (the series was created by actor/scribe Danny Strong, who penned the script for Lee Daniels’ The Butler).

For Taraji P. Henson, who previously had a successful run on the CBS series Person of Interest, one reason she joined the series was her overall belief in Fox’s creative direction:

“They’re not afraid to push the envelope. I think Fox is one of the major networks that’s beginning to take that leap – they’re seeing why primetime television shows aren’t being recognized at award shows. Because on HBO and Showtime, they’re making people think. It’s not so safe – that’s life.”

To hear Taraji P. Henson talk about Cookie’s fashion sense on Empire (as well as Cookie’s character arc), click on the audio below:

Bryan Cranston Brings Holiday Cheer With “You Have To F*cking Eat”

You Have To F*cking Eat

If you’re lucky enough to have a big appetite and a loving group of family and friends for company, then eating shouldn’t be a problem for come holiday season. If you need a little encouragement,  Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston narrates the audiobook for You Have to F**king Eat.

The audiobook is available for just $1.95 at audible.com/eat, as Cranston reads the mock bedtime prose of Adam Mansbach (the scribe previously penned Go the F**k to Sleep and the audiobook version was narrated by Sam Jackson).

Cranston’s intimidating, calculating and ultimately seductive voice was one of the many elements that made Walter White such a memorable TV anti-hero, so throwing the actor into the audiobook world must have been second nature.

“This is a very funny book and my hope is that listeners will agree I can swear with just as much panache as Sam Jackson can,” said Cranston, who was also seen this year in the box-office hit Godzilla.

To hear a sample of Mr. Cranston’s narration of You Have to F**king Eatclick on the media bar below:

‘Into The Woods’ Party Images With Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt

Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn hosted a holiday party in celebration of Into The Woods, as director Rob Marshall and cast members Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, James Corden, Christine Baranski, and Tracey Ullman attended the special event (held at the Soho House in Los Angeles).

Photos from the party are below:

EXCLUSIVE -Tracey Ullman, Producer Marc Platt, Christine Baranski joined Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, hosted a holiday gathering celebrating “Into the Woods” on Wednesday, December 17 in Los Angeles, CA. The humorous and heartfelt musical, that has been nominated for 3 golden globe awards including Best Picture opens in theaters nationwide on December 25, 2014. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Walt Disney/AP Images)
EXCLUSIVE -Tracey Ullman, Producer Marc Platt, Christine Baranski joined Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, hosted a holiday gathering celebrating “Into the Woods” on Wednesday, December 17 in Los Angeles, CA. The humorous and heartfelt musical, that has been nominated for 3 golden globe awards including Best Picture opens in theaters nationwide on December 25, 2014. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Walt Disney/AP Images)
EXCLUSIVE - Jason Bateman and Emily Blunt joined Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, hosted a holiday gathering celebrating “Into the Woods” on Wednesday, December 17 in Los Angeles, CA. The humorous and heartfelt musical, that has been nominated for 3 golden globe awards including Best Picture opens in theaters nationwide on December 25, 2014. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Walt Disney/AP Images)
EXCLUSIVE – Jason Bateman and Emily Blunt joined Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, hosted a holiday gathering celebrating “Into the Woods” on Wednesday, December 17 in Los Angeles, CA. The humorous and heartfelt musical, that has been nominated for 3 golden globe awards including Best Picture opens in theaters nationwide on December 25, 2014. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Walt Disney/AP Images)
EXCLUSIVE - Meryl Streep and Producer/Director Rob Marshall joined Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, hosted a holiday gathering celebrating “Into the Woods” on Wednesday, December 17 in Los Angeles, CA. The humorous and heartfelt musical, that has been nominated for 3 golden globe awards including Best Picture opens in theaters nationwide on December 25, 2014. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Walt Disney/AP Images)
EXCLUSIVE – Meryl Streep and Producer/Director Rob Marshall joined Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, hosted a holiday gathering celebrating “Into the Woods” on Wednesday, December 17 in Los Angeles, CA. The humorous and heartfelt musical, that has been nominated for 3 golden globe awards including Best Picture opens in theaters nationwide on December 25, 2014. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Walt Disney/AP Images)
EXCLUSIVE - Christine Baranski, Meryl Streep and Tracey Ullman joined Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, hosted a holiday gathering celebrating “Into the Woods” on Wednesday, December 17 in Los Angeles, CA. The humorous and heartfelt musical, that has been nominated for 3 golden globe awards including Best Picture opens in theaters nationwide on December 25, 2014. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Walt Disney/AP Images)
EXCLUSIVE – Christine Baranski, Meryl Streep and Tracey Ullman joined Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, hosted a holiday gathering celebrating “Into the Woods” on Wednesday, December 17 in Los Angeles, CA. The humorous and heartfelt musical, that has been nominated for 3 golden globe awards including Best Picture opens in theaters nationwide on December 25, 2014. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Walt Disney/AP Images)
EXCLUSIVE - Emily Blunt joined Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, hosted a holiday gathering celebrating “Into the Woods” on Wednesday, December 17 in Los Angeles, CA. The humorous and heartfelt musical, that has been nominated for 3 golden globe awards including Best Picture opens in theaters nationwide on December 25, 2014. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Walt Disney/AP Images)
EXCLUSIVE – Emily Blunt joined Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, hosted a holiday gathering celebrating “Into the Woods” on Wednesday, December 17 in Los Angeles, CA. The humorous and heartfelt musical, that has been nominated for 3 golden globe awards including Best Picture opens in theaters nationwide on December 25, 2014. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Walt Disney/AP Images)

Based on the Tony Award winning musical by Stephen Sondheim and James LapineInto The Woods premiered on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre on November 5, 1987.

Along with Marshall, the film’s production team includes longtime Marshall collaborator/cinematographer Dion Beebe (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha), Oscar winning production designer Dennis Gassner (Quantum of Solace, Bugsy), and three-time Oscar winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (Memoirs of a Geisha, Chicago, Alice in Wonderland).

Here’s the official Boilerplate summary of Into The Woods:

“Into the Woods” is a modern twist on several beloved fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy), all tied together by an original story involving a Baker and his Wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the Witch (Meryl Streep), who has put a curse on them.

Bea Miller Readies Debut Album For Spring 2015 Release

One of my favorite aspects of watching The X Factor came from its second season, as Beatrice Miller’s unique talent (think a Lana Del Rey and Ellie Goulding hybrid) garnered her an immediate fanbase.

Though singing is her number one passion, Miller is also an actress, and being a Stephen Dorff fan, I saw her performance in the cop thriller Officer Down. Since I’m as old as the sun is bright, I had zero knowledge of Miller’s recent success (when you’re in your forties, it’s hard to keep up with the the cool kids).

Miller’s career post The X-Factor is gradually building momentum, as she’s releasing her full-length debut album for Hollywood Records this coming spring.

In 2014, the songbird (who know goes by the moniker Bea Miller) released her debut EP Young Blood (the title track was a top 40 hit), toured in the fall with The X-Factor judge Demi Lovato, and performed on The Today Show

Bea Miller - "Young Blood" - Hollywood Records
Bea Miller – “Young Blood” – Hollywood Records

At just 15, Miller is headed in the right direction, a path that’s praised in the recent Cosmopolitan article “12 Super Successful Teens Who Will Inspire You to Get Your Sh*t Together in 2015.” 

Although “Young Blood” is getting the most play for Miller (the video has reached over 2.3 million views on YouTube), my personal favorite from her EP is the anthemic and inspiring track “Fire N Gold.” Take a listen below:

Considering the vagaries and fickle nature of the entertainment industry, I had doubts if Miller could flourish outside the nurturing confines of The X Factor. It’s a paranoid thought that, considering what I’ve seen of Miller’s recent work, was misplaced.

To download Bea Miller’s EP Young Blood, please go to this iTunes link.

I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things music wise – and will definitely check out her full album next year. If you have any thoughts regarding Bea Miller and her music, please comment below!

Bea Miller - Hollywood Records