The Jussie Smollett case took a shocking turn when prosecutors dropped all charges against the “Empire” star after he had been indicted on 16 counts of filing a false police report for an alleged staged hate crime. The outcome of the case has been vigorously slammed by the Chicago P.D. and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Even though Smollett’s name has been cleared in court, the actor’s reputation has been severely impacted in the court of public opinion, putting Fox in a tough spot when determining how to proceed with “Empire,” which has yet to be renewed for a sixth season, and has seen faltering ratings ever since the Smollett saga began to dominate the news.
Adding another layer to the tangled story? The Fox-Disney mega merger. The studio behind “Empire,” 20th Century Fox Television, is now under the family-friendly, drama-free Disney umbrella.
After charges had been dropped, 20th Century Fox TV issued a statement, seemingly lending support. “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified on his behalf that all charges against him have been dismissed,” reps for the studio stated, as the “Empire” writers and stars also issued statements of support for Smollett.
With his case has been dropped, Smollett says he wants to focus on getting back to his career — but will Hollywood take him back? Variety’s senior correspondent Elizabeth Wagmeister sits down with chief TV critic Daniel D’Addario to discuss.