FROM Danny Strong
'Empire' Fox's Empire is a modern-day musical melodrama inspired in part by King Lear. The Shakespeare play is even name-checked in the pilot episode, when Terrence Howard as hip-hop mogul Lucious Lyon, pits his three sons against each other in a struggle for the throne. The plot thickens when Lucious's ex-wife Cookie, played by Taraji P. Henson, emerges from prison after 17 years and demands what's hers from her former husband and his new love interest. Empire opened big and it's defied gravity as the ratings went up week after week. The season finale drew more than 17 million viewers, and the show is on track to be the most-watched series of the season in the 18-to-49 demographic, the age range most loved by advertisers. While the show is an unapologetic soap opera -- co-creator Lee Daniels has compared it with the 80's TV series Dynasty -- it also deals with serious issues like mental illness and homophobia. With an almost entirely African American cast, the show is a breakthrough in prime-time and the other broadcast networks are taking note. Danny Strong came up with the idea for Empire. It's another success in an exceptionally versatile career. He wrote two award-winning HBO films about politics; he wrote Lee Daniels' The Butler, and he wrote not one, but two Hunger Games movies. But Strong is also an actor whom you might recognize from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or The Gilmore Girls or, more recently, Mad Men, Justified and Girls. It was actually another actor friend who first gave Strong the idea to try writing. Once he sold a script, he was hooked. Unlike some writers, Strong has never held to the notion of "write what you know." He tells us how he's been able to put himself inside the heads of characters as diverse as Sarah Palin to Katniss Everdeen to Cookie Lyon. And if you missed Cookie's stellar dialogue on Empire the first time around, you can now watch all the episodes on Hulu , which struck an exclusive deal with Fox to stream the show.
Previewing James Comey's blockbuster testimony Former FBI director James Comey testifies Thursday in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but his opening statement has been released. In it, he says he felt pressured by Donald Trump to declare loyalty to him and publicly clear him of any wrongdoing in the Russia investigation.
Shaking up the USDA, 'The Beef Cookbook' and 'Tartine All Day' Peggy Lowe explains why Trump’s pick for USDA Secretary is rattling rural America. Dario Cecchini talks future plans for Chianti ramen, and Richard Turner shares cuts from “PRIME: The Beef Cookbook.” Writer Matthew Sedacca looks at the controversy behind liquid smoke. Jonathan Gold tries Chengdu-style dishes, and Elisabeth Prueitt of Tartine fills us in on the latest. Plus, chef Michael Beckman shares a recipe for cactus confit.
Accusations of lying fly between James Comey and White House During his testimony Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey accused President Trump and other White House officials of lying when they said the FBI was in disarray and its staff had lost confidence in him. President Trump’s lawyer said Comey was wrong -- that the president never asked for his loyalty, and never asked him to back off the investigation into former NSA director Michael Flynn.