Although the final episode of the latest season of Fox’s “Empire’ culminated with the gay wedding of Jussie Smollett’s character, the actor/singer is reportedly not returning for the next season, according to multiple sources.
Fox Entertainment said Tuesday that Smollett will not return in the wake of allegations by Chicago officials the actor lied about a racially motivated attack, reports the Associated Press. “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,’” the studio said in a statement that gave no reasoning for the decision.
Fox announced earlier last week that the drama about a hip-hop record label and the fiery family behind it had been renewed for a sixth season. A Smollett representative released a statement to several media outlets 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 said. “Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and ‘Empire’ leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.”
Chicago police allege Smollett paid two brothers to help him stage a January attack that included two masked men beating him, hurling racist and homophobic slurs at him, dousing him with a chemical substance and putting a rope around his neck. Smollett has maintained throughout that the attack was not staged. He was arrested, but prosecutors later dropped the charges.