Empire renewed for sixth season but ‘no plans' for Jussie Smollett return
Empire has been renewed for a sixth season – but there are “no plans” for Jussie Smollett to return to the show, Fox said.
The actor, who has played the character of Jamal since season one in 2015, was accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself in January in a bid to boost his career.
Prosecutors in Chicago had charged the 36-year-old with lying to police but later dropped the allegations, much to the fury of the city’s authorities who insist he is guilty.
Fox, the television network which airs musical drama Empire, removed Smollett’s character from the final two episodes of season five and has now said it is unlikely he will return for the newly confirmed sixth season.
In a statement, Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV said: “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.”
Smollett, who is black and openly gay, maintains he was attacked. He alleges two masked men hurled homophobic and racist slurs at him before wrapping a rope around his neck and pouring an unknown substance over him.
He also told detectives they shouted he was in “Maga country”, an apparent reference to Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign slogan.
Mr Trump called the case an “embarrassment” for the country.
The city of Chicago has launched legal action against Smollett in a bid to recoup the cost of its investigation into the alleged attack, which police say was orchestrated by the actor as a publicity stunt.