Though Jussie Smollett is currently being sued by the City of Chicago after apparently orchestrating a racially-charged hate crime hoax, the actor’s future on Fox Entertainment’s hit show “Empire” is not over.
“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season six, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to ‘Empire,'” a statement from Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV said, according to Fox News.
A representative for Smollett went as far as to suggest the actor would be coming back to appear on the show in due time, presumably when the alleged hate crime hoax blows over.
“We’ve been told that Jussie will not be on Empire in the beginning of the season but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal’s future open,” a spokesperson for the actor said. “Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and Empire leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.”
As noted by Fox News, Smollett was recently spotted in Hollywood grabbing lunch with “Empire” showrunner Brett Mahoney, only lending more credence to the rumors of an eventual return of Jamal.
In January, Smollett claimed he was targeted by two white Trump supporters in the streets of downtown Chicago around 2:30 a.m. for being gay and black. The men, according to the TV star, physically assaulted him, called him the N-word and a “f****t,” doused him with a bleach-like substance, and tied a noose around his neck.
Journalists and pundits in the mainstream media were quick to report the horrifying, though dubious report without an ounce of skepticism, and high-profile Democrats pounced on Smollett’s claims, which they apparently viewed as an opportunity to own President Donald Trump.
House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA), for example, wrote in a since-deleted tweet: “The racist, homophobic attack on [Jussie Smollett] is an affront to our humanity. No one should be attacked for who they are or whom they love. I pray that Jussie has a speedy recovery & that justice is served. May we all commit to ending this hate once and for all.”
“There is no such thing as ‘racially charged.’ This attack was not ‘possibly’ homophobic. It was a racist and homophobic attack. If you don’t like what is happening to our country, then work to change it. It is no one’s job to water down or sugar-coat the rise of hate crimes,” posted Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on January 30.
“The vicious attack on actor Jussie Smollett was an attempted modern-day lynching. I’m glad he’s safe,” said Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). “To those in Congress who don’t feel the urgency to pass our Anti-Lynching bill designating lynching as a federal hate crime– I urge you to pay attention.”
And the list goes on.
But soon evidence from the Chicago Police Department revealed that the “attack” was apparently orchestrated by Smollett, who was eventually charged with filing a false report and hit with 16 other felony charges. Those charges, however, were abruptly and controversially dropped by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office.
Smollett is now faced with a lawsuit from the City of Chicago, wherein the city’s Law Department is seeking damages from the actor in the amount of $130,106.15.