“Jussie [Smollett] will NOT be returning to ‘Empire,'” series co-creator Lee Daniels said on Tuesday.
Daniels was responding to a Variety report in which various production sources said “Empire’s” writing staff was breaking thoughts for the show’s sixth and final season with the desire that Jussie Smollett would show up in the back half of the 18-episode season.
This is the first public acknowledgment stating Smollett will not return for the final season of the Fox drama series. He was written out of the final episodes of the show’s fifth season following serious backfire originating from accusations that the actor and musician faked a hate crime against himself earlier this year in Chicago.
Empire creator Lee Daniels says Jussie Smollet will not be returning to the show.
SOURCE: Urban Hollywood
The same production sources likewise note tensions were ratcheted up on set between the show’s primarily black cast members, who still believe Smollett is blameless, and the mostly white below-the-line crew, a large number of whom believe Smollett is guilty.
Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television refused to comment.
Multiple “Empire” cast members wrote a letter back in April that was sent to different Fox officials and series executive producers. “Together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother, and friend be brought back for our sixth season of ‘Empire,’” the letter said. It was voted by “Empire” stars Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe, and Nicole Ari Parker.
Jussie Smollett was one of the key cast members of "Empire".
At the point when the sixth season renewal was announced in April, Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television said that they had extended Smollett’s choice for Season 6 but there were no plans for him to return. After two weeks, Fox reported the sixth season would be the show’s last. Prior to the events of this year, Smollett was one of the key casts on “Empire.” His character, "Jamal Lyon," is loosely inspired by Daniels.
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Smollett claimed he was the victim of an assault which he said was racially and politically spurred, and just as homophobic. Later he was blamed for employing the men who attacked him and prosecuted for filing false statements. The criminal charges were dropped in March, and Smollett has kept up his guiltlessness. The city of Chicago, however, has filed a $130,000 lawsuit against Smollett so as to recoup the cost of the police investigation.
Watch the attack video of Jussie Smollett.
The records in Smollett’s case were originally sealed, yet a judge ordered in May that a large number of pages from the documents on the case be released. Among the documents discharged were police statements from the Osundario siblings, who asserted Smollett paid them to organize the attack, as well as text messages from the workplace of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
As Variety previously revealed, Foxx has confronted criticism for its office’s treatment of the Smollett case. In the recently released messages, Foxx talks about recusing herself from the case, which she says was based on a false belief that she was related to Smollett.
Another cluster of records is expected to be released later this week. Roughly 70 hours of surveillance videos and bodycam footage that was gathered by Chicago detectives during the span of the investigation is also anticipated to be released to the public.