The producers of “Empire” removed Jussie Smollett’s role from the last two shows of the season after he was charged with filing a false report and lying to police in the racist hoax attack he staged against himself.
“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,” the producers said in a statement.
“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.”
The executive producers of Empire are Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer.
Police say Smollett planned the attack because he was unhappy about his salary from the show and wanted to promote his career. Prior to the hoax attack, police say he sent a letter that threatened him to the Chicago studio where they shoot the show.
Police say Smollett gave detailed instructions to the two Nigerian-American brothers who helped him stage the racist and homophobic hoax attack against himself in January. Prosecutors said he told them the two specific slurs to shout at him, including “MAGA country” and pointed them to the surveillance camera to stage the attack because he felt it would be recorded. The problem was that the camera was pointing in a different direction.
Smollett’s legal team continues to maintain his innocence, though the evidence presented against him in court documents is very damning. The evidence includes text messages and a copy of the check he used to pay the brothers. A NBC News employee was also a witness in the case and disputes Smollett’s claim that there was shouting. This person was around the corner from where the incident occurred and did not hear any shouting.