Empire - A New Fox Series that Deserves Your Attention!

Empire - An Intense Drama Series

Starts Wednesday, January 7th, 2015, 9ET/8c on Fox

An insider's glimpse of a new series for the new year.  As a member of Verizon's influencer team, I scored an invite to attend a private showing of Fox's new drama series, Empire, launching Wednesday, January 7th, 2015, at 9ET/8c.

I wanted to give you an easy New Year's resolution: watch it!

Glen Gilmore (left) at "Empire" premiere after-party in NYC.

Like Drama? Going to Love "Empire"

Watch this trailer.  Please.  (If it doesn't grab your attention, may I suggest you rush yourself to an emergency room, because you're comatose!)

Terrance - Emperor of the Empire

Terrance commands.  His voice draws you in, like the purr of a lion, only to pounce upon you when you're close enough.  He has built an empire in the music industry, the hard way, and he is determined to find a worthy successor.  Nothing - or no one - will stand in his way!

Cookie's Sweet Revenge

Empire is filled with delicious characters. Cookie could be a lead for character favorite in this edgy drama series.  She's a natural born - leader.  She set the family on its foundation of success and payed a steep price for doing so.

Cookie, played by Taraji P. Henson, like her "x," Lucious, also  commands the screen - with her walk, her affections, her tantrums.  You will love her and fear her and admire her.  She is Terrance's perfect foil.

More than anything, she is the lioness who protects her children.

Cookie’s been away for a bit.  Seventeen years, in fact, being released from prison just in time to see the company she helped start get ready to go public on Wall Street. 

And Cookie simply wants what’s hers.  And, in the Empire, that’s a lot!

You will fall in love with her from the moment she struts on screen.

More of the Story   

Fox calls Empire a “sexy and powerful family drama series centered on the running of a modern music empire.”

And?  It’s fun. 

What else?  It’s sexy.  Pretty people, pretty things.  Fashion.  Boats.  Parties.

You want more than that?  Operatic television.  Larger than life, but full of real life.

BIG drama.  Suspenseful.

Think part “The Wolf of Wall Street,” where everything is fair game in a quest for the biggest return.  A façade of complete control when everything and everyone is out of control.

More?  It also has very funny moments.  Yet, it’s very serious.  It’s about the good life and life on the streets. 

A family drama that will suck you in!

The “Emperor,” Lucious Lyon,” played by the charismatic Terrance Howard, has a secret.  (In fact, he has many.)  He’s just learned that he has a fatal illness, with only about three years, at most, to live. 

Within that time, Lucious is determined to name one – one – of his three sons as the successor to a hugely-successful music empire that his family has paid dearly to establish.   At the moment, none of his sons is ready in his eyes to succeed him.  The battle for succession may be all that is needed to ready the next emperor – if it doesn’t tear the empire or family apart in the process.

A word or two more about Lucious.  I don’t use the term “charismatic” lightly.  Lucious (Terrance Howard) has got real charisma.  His appearance commands your attention, as does his voice.  And he uses his talents to his great advantage.  His voice is melodic.  You want to hear him speak.  

If one were to take my comparison to the “Wolf of Wall Street” to heart, he is the “wolf,” and he can snarl with a look or a whisper.  He is determined to see his empire survive – at just about any cost.

Son No. 1, the eldest, Andre, played by Trai Byers.  Impeccably clean-cut, polished, educated, business suit wearing, muscle-bound, with a very pretty wife, he would seem the destined heir apparent.  Though he is not musical like his younger brothers, he is all about the business of the family business.  But, the Emperor is determined that a test of wills and talents will trump any hierarchy of the first-born.  (Andre’s pretty wife is untroubled by the prospect of sibling rivalry, seeing her husband the easy winner of the crown.)

Son No. 2, the middle son, Jamal, played by Jussie Smollett.  Dismissing any notion of becoming his father’s successor because of his own open homosexuality and his father’s vocal hostility to homosexuality, Jamal seems determined to resist being baited into any battle that would tear apart his family.  A musical talent in his own right, but one who has never had a strong manager, he may find himself pushed to the front as a stellar manager steps forward to take charge of his career.

Son No. 3, the youngest, Hakeem, played by Bryshere Gray.  He seems to be his father’s favorite, though his father is quick to berate all his sons.  He is the Hip-Hop hero, living life large, pouring out rhymes.

MUSIC.  Empire carriers, as one would hope, strong musical credentials.

The show scored a coup in getting Grammy award-winning songwriter “Timbaland” Mosley to produce music for the series.  Mosely has collaborated musically with the likes of Jay Z, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Madonna and Elton John….Hello!

Guest appearances by established musical talent.  Tantalizingly, the show’s producers and stars have said that viewers can expect to see appearances from recognized musical talent, of the caliber one would expect to be hobnobbing with the Lyons family if it were real, being who they are.

Empire’s got talent.  At the same time, the show’s producers have also said that viewers can expect to hear from new musical talent, as in talent not just appearing for the sake of the show, but new talent that just may be on their way to becoming big stars.  This should make a nice feature.

“To the Empire!”

The fabric of this show is woven with glamor and crime and love and violence and sacrifice – and family.

It is all about family.  And ambition.  A troubled family.  A beautiful family.  A scary family.   A scared family.  Even in all its glitter and brash, it remains very human.

An African American family born on the toughest streets of Philadelphia that’s made it to the very top of the super-rich stratosphere of the Hip-Hop music industry?  Doesn’t matter if you’re like me, an Irish-American, Jersey boy from the suburbs,  you won’t have trouble identifying with the characters that people the screen, as their stories and lives, at their core, are all very real and, as such, universal.

So, watch the first episode and, when you’re done, join me in anxiously waiting for the next!

BONUS:  Allow me a little plug for my sponsor:  If you’re like me, you’re always on the move.  Verizon FiOS mobile app has made it very easy to put your television in your pocket, so, you should be able to catch your favorite shows on the run!  

Let me know what you think!

See you on Twitter!  @GlenGilmore

Being "Social" - A Case Study: @SohoGrandHotel

The Soho Grand is the sort of hotel you want to stay at:  stylish, friendly, nicely situated, very comfortable rooms, people who are very attentive to their guests.

They’re even on Twitter!

Herein lies the problem: being on Twitter, i.e., having a Twitter account, is not being social.  Having a Twitter account and paying attention to it and engaging those who engage you, is.

I had a very nice stay at the Soho Grand in NYC this weekend.  Had drinks and small dishes in their lounge late in the evening.  Enjoyed a very nice breakfast.

So what’s the problem?

I tweeted the Soho Grand before my arrival.


Not so fast.  This is a hotel, which, according to its Twitter account biography, is:

A New York boutique hotel offering luxury accommodations in the stylish, sophisticated SoHo neighborhood.


A “boutique hotel” offering “luxury accommodations.”

Wouldn’t it be fair to infer from this a high degree of personal attention?  I would think so.  

I'm not looking for a response within minutes, though some, like KLM airlines strive to achieve this.  I'm not even expecting a response within a few hours.  I'm talking about expecting to see a response within twenty-four hours at a hotel that touts "luxury" accommodations.  

I wouldn’t think it unreasonable to expect from a "luxury" "boutique" hotel, a response within twenty-four hours.  Am I being unreasonable?

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my stay at the Soho Grand.  I am just disappointed by their lack of truly being social.  Now, I appreciated the fact that they had people both outside and inside the entrance standing at the ready to offer their assistance to guests as they arrived and went about their business.  Couldn’t one or two of these very attentive and engaging people have also been tasked with listening to and engaging from the hotel’s social accounts – and being social to their arriving and arrived guests?

Expectations in social media have gotten more stringent.  I tweeted the Grand Hotel on a Saturday morning.  On the next day, Sunday evening I am writing this post.  Is it unfair of me to expect a response from a hotel’s Twitter account within twenty-four hours?  For a hotel that describes itself as a “boutique” hotel offering “luxury” accommodations, I don’t think my expectations are unfair. 

Being “social” actually requires being “social.”

  1. If you want to be “social” as a business, it requires an investment of resources.  Those resource may be readily available.  You are a “luxury” hotel that has people assigned to greet guests inside and outside the hotel?  Why not train them and task them with monitoring and engaging from your social media accounts?
  2. Customers expect branded social media accounts to actually be listening and engaging when they are engaged.
  3. If you are business, a weekend should not go by without you monitoring your social media accounts, especially if you are a business where weekends are among your busiest times of the week!
  4. It shouldn’t need to be said at this time, but, sadly, it does:  social media accounts are not for pushing content – they are for engaging customers and building relationships.
  5. Social is part of how you will be judged as a business, particularly if your business is in the hospitality industry.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to add a comment.

And, if we’re not already connected on Twitter, please join me there!  @GlenGilmore