05-20-2018  10:58 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

US Marshals, police arrest Vermont fugitive in Oregon

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The U.S. Marshals Service says a missing sex offender from Vermont has been arrested in Oregon.The Marshals say 55-year-old James Rivers was arrested May 16 in Cottage Grove, Oregon, by deputy marshals and local police. It's unclear if he has an attorney.Authorities...

Oregon State study says it's OK to eat placenta after all

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — First experts said eggs are bad for you, then they say it's OK to eat them. Is red wine good for your heart or will it give you breast cancer?Should you eat your placenta?Conflicting research about diets is nothing new, but applying the question to whether new mothers...

State sees need to reduce elk damage in the Skagit Valley

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Elk are easy to spot against the green backdrop of the Skagit Valley, where much of the resident North Cascades elk herd that has grown to an estimated 1,600 is found.For farmers in the area — especially those who grow grass for their cattle or to sell to...

Famed mini sub's control room to become future exhibit

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport has a new addition to its archives — the salvaged control room of the legendary, one-of-a-kind Cold War-era miniature submersible NR-1.Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy, conceived the idea for the...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

2018 midterms: An early heat for 2020 Democrats?

ATLANTA (AP) — Look closely enough at the 2018 midterm campaign and you'll see the stirrings of a Democratic scramble to reclaim the White House from President Donald Trump.The leading players — from established national figures such as former Vice President Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders...

Northern states taking down vestiges of racism, intolerance

DETROIT (AP) — A nearly 80-year-old statue depicting a European settler with a weapon in his hand towering over a Native American that some say celebrates white supremacy has been dismantled by crews in southwestern Michigan's Kalamazoo.And at the University of Michigan, regents have voted...

Guess who's coming to Windsor? Royal ceremony weds cultures

BURLINGTON, New Jersey (AP) — With a gospel choir, black cellist and bishop, Oprah, Serena and Idris Elba in the audience and an African-American mother-of-the-bride, Saturday's wedding of Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle was a blend of the solemn and the soulful.Guess who's...

ENTERTAINMENT

'13 Reasons Why' premiere canceled after Texas shooting

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Netflix canceled the premiere party for its second season of the teen drama "13 Reasons Why" because of a school shooting near Houston.The streaming service announced the cancellation hours before the scheduled premiere and red carpet event, citing the Friday morning...

'Shoplifters' wins Palme d'Or, grand prize to Spike Lee

A tumultuous Cannes Film Festival concluded Saturday with the Palme d'Or awarded to Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Shoplifters," a tender portrait of a poor, impoverished family, while Harvey Weinstein accuser Asia Argento vowed justice will come to all sexual predators.At the closing...

'Jurassic Park' dinosaur expert's next big thing: holograms

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Forget the gray, green and brown dinosaurs in the "Jurassic Park" movies. Paleontologist Jack Horner wants to transport people back in time to see a feathered Tyrannosaurus rex colored bright red and a blue triceratops with red fringe similar to a rooster's comb.Horner,...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

'Deadpool 2' ends Avengers' box-office reign, rakes in 5M

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Deadpool and his foul-mouthed crew of misfits and malcontents have taken down the...

Iraq's al-Sadr, promising reform, is constrained by Iran

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric whose political coalition beat out Iran's...

Company in Cuba plane crash had received safety complaints

HAVANA (AP) — The Mexican charter company whose 39-year-old plane crashed in Havana had been the subject of...

Palestinian publicly sets himself on fire in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A 20-year-old Palestinian is in critical condition after publicly setting...

Iran says EU political support not enough, urges investment

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's state TV is reporting that the country's foreign minister has urged the European...

The Latest: Maduro's challengers criticize 'red points'

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Latest on Sunday's presidential election in Venezuela (all times local):1:01...

Lee Daniels
Kam Williams Special To The Skanner News

After directing and/or producing such successful feature films as Monster’s Ball, for which Halle Berry won an Academy Award, and Precious, for which Mo’Nique won hers,  and The Butler, Lee Daniels has set his sights on TV for the first time. Here, he talks about directing the new nighttime soap opera Empire, co-starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.

Kam Williams: Hi Lee, thanks for another opportunity to speak with you.

Lee Daniels: Great, Kam. How are you?

 

KW: All is well, thanks. What was the source of inspiration for Empire?

LD: My partner, Danny Strong, came to me with this idea of telling a story about my life, and merging that with music and the Hip-Hop world. He wrote The Butler and originally wanted to do Empire also as a movie.

 

KW: I had no idea it was semi-autobiographical. Why TV, as opposed to the big screen?

LD: What happened was we decided that’s enough with movies, let’s do it for television so that we could bring this to life for America on a weekly basis. It picks up, historically, where The Butler left off, and deals with race relations. It’s a little bit like my family, a little like some friends of mine with money, their world, and a little like some of my friends without money, their world. I think it’s the African-American experience.

KW: Which character are you? Lucious Lyon [played by Terrence Howard]?

LD: I’m Lucious… I’m Jamal… I’m all of the characters. My sister and my cousins are Cookie [played by Taraji P. Henson]. Cookie’s  little bit of all of them.

 

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: How do film actors like Terrence and Taraji make the transition from the big screen to the small screen?

LD: That’s a very good question and a very complicated one, because with film we get the luxury of time. It works at a different pace. It’s nice and slow. As a film director and as film actors, you get used to a certain rhythm that’s slow. But with TV, it’s hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry. It’s a different pace. So, it’s about adjusting to the pace. It’s not meant for everybody.

KW: Has the frenetic pace frustrated you?

LD: No, I think it’s made me a better director, because I have to think fast. I no longer have the luxury of taking my time. Does that make any sense?

KW: Absolutely! Chalyn Toon asks: Did you consider other actors or did you always envision Taraji and Terrence for the lead roles?

LD: I always considered Taraji, but even though Terrence and I are very good friends and had worked together on The Butler and were thinking about doing The Marvin Gaye Story. But I didn’t know if he’d do TV. I was thinking of Wesley Snipes for the role, but word on the street was that Taraji wasn’t feeling it anymore. Then she told me, “I’ll do it, but only if Terrence does it.” I went, “girl, you ain’t even got the job yet.” And I was like, “Terrence ain’t going to do TV.” But then he said he would, and there you go.  

KW: Chalyn also says: Most writers avoid dealing with homosexuality within the black community. What made you choose that path? Unlike your counterpart, Shonda Rhimes, who has depicted white males in a passionate relationship, perhaps to target a whiter audience, you’ve put two males of color in a gay relationship. Why did you choose to do so?

LD: I did it because I think it’s time to destroy a myth in the black community about gay men. When I was doing research for Precious, I went to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis here in New York City, because the movie dealt with AIDS. What I expected to see was gay men, but what I found were African-American women and children who’d been infected with HIV by black men on the down-low. They were on the d-l because their pastor says, because their minister says, because their neighbor says, and their homeboy says, “You can’t be gay.” Black men on the d-l are killing our women. I can’t hate the men on the d-l, I only hate that they’re on the d-l, because our people forced them to be. So, this is really dedicated to educating. This is the civil rights movement of our generation.

So, this is really dedicated to educating   

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier: You are working on a Richard Pryor biopic. What does he mean to you?

LD: The more research I do, the more I uncover not only his brilliance, but how much of a pioneer he was at a time that was harder on African-Americans than it is right now, if that’s imaginable. His experience as a black American was very similar to mine. We both come from troubled backgrounds. He was very open about his sexuality, and what he did, and he spoke the truth. And he fought for the truth for everybody. And because he was so tormented, he was a drug addict, and so was I. Our similarities are strangely connected. So, he speaks to me. He was ahead of his time, and he didn’t even know that he was changing the world through humor. He was uniting African-American and white Americans through his humor. He didn’t know, and I hope to do him justice.

KW: Marcia Evans says: Lee, I'm major proud of all your work, and I'm digging Empire. Congratulations on your weight loss. You’re looking good. Vegan is working for you.

LD: [Belly laugh] I’m not really vegan. I’m vegan-ish. I have a piece of lamb every now and then.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Lee, and best of luck with Empire.

LD: Thank you, Kam. Talk to you soon.

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