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Why the time is ripe for 'Empire' to really succeed

Empire has done the seemingly impossible. In an era where more and more viewers are moving away from watching live TV in favor of time-shifting or online viewing, Fox’s new hip-hop drama not only debuted strong, it actually grew in its second week. At TCA’s winter press tour, star Taraji P. Henson attributed part of that success to viewers being more open to diverse storytelling.

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'Empire': Inside Fox's ambitious, groundbreaking musical soap

William Shakespeare. Sean “Puffy” Combs. Alexis Carrington. This pop culture threesome doesn’t usually come up in conversation—unless you’re talking to the creators of Fox’s new drama Empire. While driving around L.A., writer Danny Strong heard a story about Combs on the radio and instantly began brainstorming a movie about a hip-hop mogul and his family. “The whole idea just flooded through my head: I’d do it like King Lear or The Lion in Winter,” says Strong. “Make the main character like a dying king, and he’s got three sons. Then my next thought was ‘I think I need to call Lee Daniels.’ ” Strong had just worked with the director on 2013’s The Butler; Daniels loved the concept but wanted one major change. “I said, ‘I miss Dynasty and I would love to see a black Dynasty,’ ” Daniels recalls of the Joan Collins-led prime-time soap. “And off we went!”

But Empire is more than just big hair, sequined gowns, and catfights—it’s one of the most ambitious new dramas of 2015. In the first episode, Lucious Lyon (Oscar nominee Terrence Howard), a rapper–turned–music mogul, is diagnosed with ALS and given three years to live. He must choose one of his three sons—hardworking Andre (Trai Byers), artistic Jamal (Jussie Smollett), or immature Hakeem (Bryshere Gray)—to take over the family business. But Lucious also has to deal with the return of his live-wire ex-wife, Cookie (Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson), who is getting out of prison after 17 years and wants half the company. READ FULL STORY

M. Night Shyamalan's TV debut 'Wayward Pines': A first look -- PHOTO

When Special Agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) finds himself in Wayward Pines, Idaho, it looks to be a quiet, bucolic pocket of seeming perfection. But considering M. Night Shyamalan is the executive producer of this Fox 10-episode miniseries — created by Chad Hodge from the book by Blake Crouch and co-starring Melissa Leo, Terrance Howard, and Juliette Lewis — you may not be surprised to discover that all is not what it appears to be. In fact, things are downright weird and possibly quite dangerous. We asked Shyamalan, seen here directing Dillon in the pilot, to tell us a bit more about what’s going on with Wayward Pines.
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'Hawaii 5-0' books Terrence Howard for guest spot -- EXCLUSIVE

Terrence Howard is heading to Hawaii 5-0, EW has learned exclusively.

But the Academy Award nominee won’t be spending much time on the island. Howard has been booked to appear in the show’s upcoming third season in an episode that features flashbacks to Danny’s (Scott Caan) former life as a cop in Newark, New Jersey. (Hint: They don’t get along.) He is set to appear in one episode that will likely air in October.

Non-Kardashian Kardashian offspring Kendall Jenner is also set to appear in the episode, per her blog announcement this weekend. Though, we’re told she will not share scenes with Howard.

The 5-0 returns Sept. 24 with all new episodes, which will feature previously announced guest stars Christine Lahti, who will recur as McGarrett’s mother, and Ed Asner, who will reprise his role as smuggler August March.

Related:
CBS announces fall premiere dates
‘How I Met Your Mother’ season 8 First Look: Will Barney get cold feet? — EXCLUSIVE PHOTO
‘NCIS': First Look at season 10 — EXCLUSIVE PHOTO

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