Fox TV Says ‘No Plans’ For Hate Hoax Actor Jussie Smollett’s Character To Return On ‘Empire’
Fox Entertainment’s “Empire” show was officially picked up for a sixth season, but actor Jussie Smollett likely won’t play a big part in the ongoing drama.
“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season six, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to ‘Empire,’” Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV issued in a statement to Fox News on Tuesday.
Smollett’s team put a positive spin on the news.
“We’ve been told that Jussie will not be on Empire in the beginning of the season but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal’s future open,” Smollett’s personal rep told Entertainment Tonight in a statement. “Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and Empire leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support!”
Smollett on Jan. 29 told police that he was attacked by two white men. He claimed the main attacker “was wearing a ski mask that covered his entire face, with the exception of the area around his eyes, by which [Smollett] could tell the attacker was white-skinned,” the lawsuit says.
But after investigation, police said Smollettt, who is black, hired brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo, who also are black, to attack him in a hate hoax crime.
A Chicago grand jury indicted Smollett in March on 16 felony counts that he allegedly lied to police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime. Those charges came after he was arrested in February and charged with felony disorderly conduct for the allegedly false police report.
But the Cook County, Illinois state attorney’s office in March suddenly dropped all charges and sealed the case. “After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” the office said in a statement.
Smollett’s lawyers claimed victory, saying in a statement that the actor “was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgement.”
“Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions. This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. That is wrong. It is a reminder that a victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result,” the lawyers said.
The city of Chicago filed suit against the “Empire” actor after he missed a deadline to reimburse authorities for the hundreds of hours of overtime put in by the Chicago Police Department in the course of investigating the alleged underlying hate crime. The city demanded Smollett pay $130,000, but he failed to do so.