The producers behind Empire are reacting to Tuesday’s stunning turn of events that found prosecutors dropping all charges against Jussie Smollett. In a statement, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox network said, “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.”
Despite initially having the support of his Empire family, Smollett was ultimately written out of this season’s final episodes. In a statement at the time, Empire EPs (led by Lee Daniels) said, “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. 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.”
Following Smollett’s ouster, TVLine reported that Daniels & Co. were said to be considering all options for next season — including potentially recasting Jamal with a different actor.
At a press conference Tuesday, an emotional Smollett thanked “my family, my friends, the incredible people of Chicago and all over the country and the world who have supported me, prayed for me, who showed me so much love,” adding, “No one will ever know how much that has meant to me, and I will be forever grateful.”
Smollett was arrested last month and charged with disorderly conduct/filing a false police report in connection to January’s alleged hate crime attack. In a press conference following his arrest, Chicago police claimed that Smollett hired two men to fake the attack because he was dissatisfied with his Empire salary.