On the second season of Empire, the familial relations between all the Lyons is — as always — pretty tense. But on Taraji And Terrence's White Hot Holidays , the cast of the show proves to be one big happy family off-screen. Empire stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson host this holiday variety show, which aired this Wednesday night and features music and comedy performed in front of a live audience. After a night full of carols by A-list guest stars like Patti LaBelle and John Legend; comedy sketches that took Henson and Howard away from their Empire roles and into the shoes of the Kardashian Wests and a working class family; and some good-natured emcee banter, the evening closed out with hope and a song. Henson and Howard talked about the state of the world, no doubt referring to recent acts of violence and ongoing ideological divides, before inviting two of their Empire sons back to the stage for a finale performance. The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" isn't strictly a Christmas song, but its sentiment proved to be a poignant note to end on.
Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard were joined by Jussie Smollett (Jamal on Empire) and Bryshere "Yazz" Gray (Hakeem), who'd brought the house down with a rendition of "Joy To The World" earlier in the night. Smollett rocked a black suit and glittery loafers while Gray stood out in a bold red jacket. Howard and Henson had a handful of costume changes throughout the evening; for the finale, Henson wore a glitzy, pleated red gown to complement Howard's black and white polka dot dinner jacket. Backed by a choir who ditched robes for festive glamour, the TV family sang their meaningful song. "As far as we're concerned, the only thing that can defeat hate is for us all to pull together and try to love one another as we move into the new year," Henson said by way of introduction.
The Lyons always keep it fresh though; and, to that end, called on will.i.am to mash up the Beatles track with some new lyrics to the Black Eyed Pea's hit "Where Is The Love?" (Guest performers Mary J. Blige and Tank eventually joined the party too.) The combination of his rhymes, the choir's harmonies, a joyful horn section, and the sea of lights in the audience made for an uplifting moment. And though I'm well aware that the Lyons are just characters on a TV show, it felt good to see those actors standing next to each other and spreading a message of love.
When Empire starts up again in March, the Lyons will be back at each other's throats. But outside of the label's offices, the show's stars took the opportunity of the season to focus on the positive and shine a little light.
Images: Frank Micelotta/Fox (2)