Home Movies Exclusive: Usher Has New Album in July, “Empire” CD Sales Bust

Good news and bad news in the music world:

Usher tells me he has a new album coming in July. He executive produced it. I don’t have the song titles yet. There will be a big launch in New York reminiscent of when Usher performed with the off Broadway “De La Guarda” troupe.

This time he’ll be doing something very innovative with the people behind “Sleep No More.” The album is timed to the release of the new movie “Hands of Stone,” coming out August 26th. Usher is sensational as Sugar Ray Leonard– so impressive there’s going to be a lot of awards talk.

I realized at the “Hands of Stone” event in Cannes I’ve known Usher since he’s 18 years old. He’s just gotten better and better, and his future is unlimited. I can’t wait to hear his new music.

But bad news: “Empire” had decent ratings for its season finale and won the night. But the current “Empire” CD is a bust. It sold around 3,500 copies this week. It’s number 81 on iTunes. Yikes. Something went wrong with how “Empire” is being marketed.

By the way, Jussie Smollett stars in “Empire.” But his knockout sister, Jurnee, was already a movie star years ago. I met her when she was in “The Great Debaters” with Nate Parker, who’s so hot this year with “The Birth of a Nation.” Jurnee plays Usher’s wife in “Hands of Stone,” and she is good.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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