Actor Jussie Smollett’s character on “Empire” will be removed from the final two episodes of this season in the wake of his arrest on charges that he staged a racist, anti-gay attack on himself last month in downtown Chicago, producers of the Fox TV show announced Friday.
The announcement came a day after Smollett turned himself in to police, appeared in court on a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report, and left jail after posting bond.
“While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays,” ″Empire” executive producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo, and Dennis Hammer said in a written 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 series is on a midseason break and returns March 13 with nine episodes. The last two episodes of the fifth season were still being made when Smollett was charged.
Smollett, who is Black and gay, plays a gay character on the show that follows a Black family as they navigate the ups and downs of the recording industry.
Police said Smollett planned the hoax because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted to promote his career. Before the attack, he also sent a letter that threatened him to the Chicago studio where “Empire” is shot, police said.