×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jussie Smollett Removed From Final ‘Empire’ Season 5 Episodes Following Arrest

Jussie Smollett has been removed from the final Season 5 episodes of the Fox series “Empire” in the wake of his arrest Thursday morning.

“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us” said series executives Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer in a statement released Friday. “Jussie has been an important member of our ‘Empire’ family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”

Fox had previously issued multiple statements in support of Smollett, referring to him as a “consummate professional” during his time on “Empire.” The tone shifted, however, following his arrest, with the network saying they were “evaluating the situation” and “considering [their] options.” Whether or not Smollett will return to the show should it gets picked up for a sixth season remains to be seen.

Smollett surrendered to authorities and was arrested early Thursday morning in Chicago. He is charged with filing a false police report and disorderly conduct. The actor and musician claimed that he was the victim of an assault in the early morning hours of Jan. 29 in Chicago, stating two men hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, beat him, poured bleach on him, and placed a rope around his neck. Smollett also said that the two men used the phrase “MAGA country” during the assault, a reference to President Donald Trump and his “Make America Great Again” slogan.

However, investigators now believe Smollett paid two acquaintances — brothers Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo — to help him stage the attack. Police previously arrested the brothers, but they were later released without being charged. They are now cooperating with the investigation.

During a press conference Thursday morning, the Chicago PD stated they believed Smollett staged the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on “Empire.” They also said they believe Smollett had sent a threatening letter to himself that was received at “Empire’s” Chicago production office days before the attack.

Smollett and his representatives have repeatedly denied that he staged the attack. He was released on bail on Thursday afternoon and returned to the set of “Empire.”

As Variety reported on Tuesday, Smollett could face jail time for the charges against him, with falsifying a police report being a Class 4 felony in Illinois.

Smollett has been a key cast member on “Empire” from the show’s beginning. He won significant praise when the show premiered for portraying Jamal Lyon, the gay son of music mogul Luscious Lyon.

More TV

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • Peter Weber and Mike Johnson

    'The Bachelor's' Mike Johnson on Diversity and New Leading Man Peter Weber

    ABC named its newest star of “The Bachelor” this week, officially making Peter Weber the leading man for Season 24 of the long-running dating show. Social media backlash ensued following the announcement due to ABC’s selection lacking diversity, yet again. Since the dating franchise began in 2002, there has been only one “Bachelorette” of color [...]

  • ABC Studios Logo

    ABC Studios Head of Alternative Fernando Hernandez Exits

    ABC Studios’ head of alternative Fernando Hernandez has departed from his post at the Disney-owned television studio, a source familiar with the situation told Variety. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news. Hernandez’s exit follows an executive shuffling at the top in recent months that has included the departure of Amy Hartwick, ABC Studio’s head [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

  • TV Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville'

    TV News Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville' Role in 'Arrowverse' Crossover

    In today’s TV news roundup, Erica Durance reprises her “Smallville” role in the CW’s annual “Arrowverse” crossover, and Showtime shares with Variety an exclusive sneak peek at the return of “The Circus.” FIRST LOOKS “2020 is the most important election of our lifetime,” Alex Wagner says in a new trailer for the fourth season of [...]

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content