” … but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to ‘Empire,’”
The Jussie Smollett saga continued Tuesday as Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television revealed in a statement that the beleaguered actor would not be returning to hit TV show “Empire” for its sixth season.
Smollett has faced backlash after Chicago police alleged he orchestrated a hate crime hoax against himself earlier this year. Recently, the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has been under intense public scrutiny for dismissing 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for making a false report against the actor in late March.
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“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 a statement, according to Variety.
Smollett’s spokesperson reacted to the news in a statement that appeared to downplay the finality of Fox’s announcement.
“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. Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and ‘Empire’ leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support,” the spokesperson said in the statement.
The last year has been full of ups and downs for the actor, who reported to the Chicago Police Department on Jan. 29 that he was assaulted by two masked men who called him racist and homophobic slurs and shouted “This is ‘MAGA’ country!” He said his assailants poured what he believed was bleach on him and put a noose around his neck.
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Police at first investigated the incident as a possible hate crime, and many other celebrities, activists, politicians, and journalists rushed to condemn not just the attackers but the supposed state of Trump’s America.
In February, Smollett was arrested and charged with staging the crime in an apparent effort to garner attention and sympathy. Fox would could ties with the actor shortly after, removing him from the final two episodes of the season.
Cook County’s prosecutors decision to drop all charges against Smollett reignited a contentious and complex cultural debate over Foxx’s conduct, race, privilege and justice that had been sparked by the controversy.
Last month, top cast members from “Empire” expressed their support for Smollett in a letter, telling Fox he should be “brought back” for the sixth season.
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- Kim Foxx./Jussie Smollett.: Screen grabs