Jussie Smollett’s character will be written off the last two episodes of the TV show “Empire,” show-runners announced Friday.
The executive producers of the show, including Lee Daniels, issued a statement Friday morning that said they have decided to remove Smollett’s character, Jamal, from the last two episodes of the season.
The producers said they “care deeply” about Smollett, who “has been an important member of the show’s family since the beginning. They said the last few weeks have taken an emotional toll on the cast and crew, and called the allegations “very disturbing.” The producers decided to remove Jamal to avoid further disruption on set, as the legal process plays out.
Here’s the full statement:
“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. 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.” -Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer, executive producers of EMPIRE.
Smollett is out on bond after he was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report about a hate crime that he allegedly staged against himself.
Jussie Smollett is maintaining his innocence, reportedly telling castmates that he would never do something like this, according to the website TMZ.
Smollett reported to work immediately after posting bond Thursday, driving directly to a studio on the Southwest Side where “Empire” films.
Inside, late to the set, TMZ said an emotional Smollett showed up red-eyed and apologetic, but also defiant, reportedly telling the cast “I swear to God I did not do this.”
However, police and prosecutors claim the now-accused felon staged his own hate crime last month, allegedly paying two brothers to yell homophobic and racial slurs and rough him up in the Streeterville neighborhood near his apartment.
An outraged Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett’s motive was that he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”
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