Jussie Smollett “Empire”: Actor will not be returning to new season, FOX says
The FOX television network announced Tuesday that it will move forward with a sixth season of its hit drama “Empire.” However, there are no plans to bring back the character portrayed by Jussie Smollett, who claimed earlier this year he was a victim of a hate crime that police said was fabricated.
“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 said in its statement Tuesday.
A Smollett representative released a statement to The Associated Press suggesting a hope that he may eventually return.
“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,” the statement read. “Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and ‘Empire’ leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.”
Chicago police accused the 36-year-old actor of orchestrating a racist and homophobic attack against himself in late January. Throughout the investigation, Smollett maintained his innocence and charges against him were ultimately dropped.
Smollett said two masked men attacked him while he was returning home from a Subway sandwich store on Jan. 29. Police claimed Smollett paid two brothers to stage the attack.
The brothers involved in an alleged attack are suing the “Empire” actor’s attorneys for defamation. Ola and Abel Osundairo are accusing Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian of falsely accusing them of an actual hate crime.
The brothers’ attorneys acknowledged they took part in the hoax, but said they apologized and only did so because Smollett paid them. Their lawsuit accuses Geragos and Glandian of making false statements about them after the charges were dropped against Smollett.
In announcing the new season, Fox said: “Empire continues to break barriers with its emotionally powerful storytelling, and it remains a core part of the FOX legacy. We want to thank everyone on the show … all of whom have done a tremendous job this season. We know there are so many more stories to tell, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for season six.”