Jussie Smollett’s “Empire” character, Jamal Lyon, has been written off this season’s last two episodes of the Fox musical drama as Smollett is embroiled in legal woes stemming from an alleged Jan. 29 attack on the actor that police believe Smollett orchestrated.
Executive producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer confirmed the news in a statement from Fox on Friday, a day after Smollett turned himself over to authorities in Chicago. He faces a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report.
“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,” the producers said.
“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,” they said.
The announcement comes just days after the studio voiced its unflinching support for the actor, but that support flagged Thursday after Chicago police held a news conference delineating how the department believed Smollett staged the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”
Daniels and Strong were among the early vocal supporters of Smollett when police initially said the actor was the victim of a possible hate crime.
Follow me: @NardineSaad