Empire will return from its mid-season finale to finish up the last few episodes of Season 5. As previously reported, embattled star Jussie Smollett will not appear in the final two episodes of the season. The studio behind the show, 20th Century Fox, stated that the decision was made in the hopes of avoiding further disruption on the set. But according to reports, as his legal troubles mount, including his recent indictment on 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report, Smollett may not appear on Empire in the future either.
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According to sources who spoke to Variety, there is a possibility that Fox may decide to axe the character of Jamal Lyon altogether.
As the Variety report reads, “Many options are on the table regarding Smollett and his character, Jamal Lyon.” Sources said it “is possible the character could be killed off or the role could be recast.”
Variety also pointed out that promotional clips for the second part of the season feature “fleeting glimpses of Jamal,” despite the fact that before Smollett’s scandal, his character’s engagement was a huge part of the storyline in the first half of Season 5.
Fox did say in February that they were “evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”
When those behind the show, including Lee Daniels and co-creator Danny Strong put out the statement announcing their decision about Smollett’s appearances in the final episodes of the season, they were still supporting him and were hoping justice would be served — for whomever was truly wronged.
“Jussie has been an important member of our ‘Empire’ family for the past five years and care about him deeply,” the statement read. “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.”
Smollett hasn’t hasn’t said much since his claims of being assaulted by two masked men on a cold Chicago morning were turned upside down by police and the men involved in the attack, the Osundairo brothers. However, he went to court on Tuesday in Chicago for a hearing, and appeared confident in front of cameras. The 36-year-old actor, along with his legal team, has maintained his innocence. As he said in his controversial Good Morning America interview with Robin Roberts, this situation isn’t something he would make up just because.
“I’m an advocate,” he said. “I respect, too much, the people who have been attacked in any way. You do such a disservice when you lie about things like this.”
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