Fox TV’s “Empire” pilot adds two new cast members

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“Empire” co-star Taraji P. Henson

NEW STAR IN TOWN will be Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson (“Person of Interest”) and Jussie Smollett (“On Our Own”) joining star Terrance Howard in Fox TV’s pilot, “Empire,” director Lee Daniels and Danny Strong’s hip-hop drama. It starts shooting at Cinespace in mid-to-late March. 

Howard plays “Luscious Lyon,” a charismatic superstar who is on the verge of going public with his Empire Entertainment company. Henson is Cookie Lyon, his ex-wife and former business partner, who just got of jail after 17 years.

Jussie Smollett (“On Our Own”) is cast as Jamal, one of Luscious and Cookie’s gay son

Brian Grazer of Imagine is one of the EPs, along with Daniels, Strong and Francie Calfo. Rich Lederer is UPM. 

HARPO STUDIOS is the special venue for the Tuesday, March 4 AICP Midwest/Software for Commercial Producers seminar. The presenter is New York-based Steve Bizenov, VP/sales and software development and a 20-year veteran of bi-coastal Media Services.

As one of the foremost specialists in entertainment production and operations, payroll and accounting, Bizenov will demonstrate four new programs designed exclusive for the commercial industry.

They are Media Services’ Showbiz Budgeting; Shot Logic intuitive cheduling breakdowns; Light Speed ESPS, the newest tool for producing in the cloud and Commercial Timecards.

At Harpo, 1058 W. Washington, 6:30-9:30 p.m.  Free and open to everyone engaged in commercial production.

CW’S “SUPERATURAL” is spinning off a pilot called “Supernatural: Tribes,” that’s supposed to be set in Chicago, since it’s a story about the monster families that rule the dark monster world of chicago. (The mayor will love this.)  

The pilot stars Sean Faris (“Pretty Little Liars”) playing werewolf Julian Durant, the son of a wealthy family of lycanthropes who hates the monsters.

The pilot shoots for three days at various Chicago locations the end of March. Equipment supplied by Essanay Studio & Lighting. 

 CONTEST WINNERS for the Chicago Screenwriters Network screenwriting contest will nervously gather for anointment of the grand prize winner Sunday, March 9 at Roots restaurant.  The lucky top winner gets a 3-day all expense paid trip to LA to meet with industry execs. 

The five semi-finalists are Rachel Rolache for “Boudekka;” T.A. Snyder, “Dead Man;” Riik Makkoogan, “Eye for an Eye;” Scott Kirkpatrick, “Fit Island;” and Anna and Ella Schovanec, “Once Upon a Winter.”

Second and third place runners up will receive $250 each and several other prizes.

Tickets for the awards program are $10 online or $15 at the door.  Festivities start at 6 p.m.

TWO HOLLYWOOD PROS will be in town March 15 to participate in “Getting Your Film Made,” an all-day seminar produced by Linda Frothingham’s ChicagoHollywood events and moderated by entertainment attorney Corky Kessler. Casting director Ronnie Yeskel (“Pulp Fiction”) and producer Rudy Langlais (“The Hurricane”) will share their advice and experience. 

The seminar will be held at Cinespace where president Alex Pissios will conduct a tour of the studio, well worth seeing. The $65 ticket includes lunch and beverages. Register here.

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