Empire star Jussie Smollett’s arrest on a felony claim for filing a false police report led the Chicago PD to lay into him during a press conference. In the process, the public learned that Smollett allegedly staged the assault (because of a salary beef) by paying two Nigerian brothers (and Empire extras) with a check. This bizarre, easily traceable oversight left the Inside The NBA crew rolling with laughter, but it doesn’t sound like the Empire cast is amused.
TMZ now follows up with word that several members of the musical dynasty series feel betrayed and, frankly, are “f*cking furious.” As such, they’re reportedly calling for Smollett to be written off the show. Even those who aren’t calling for such a drastic move, according to TMZ, are upset that he’s possibly “damaged the show’s reputation,” yet some folks are still hanging onto the possibility of Jussie’s story being true — simply “because they can’t fathom him pulling off a hoax like this.” The Daily Mail adds more details, including how cast member Gabby Sidibe stood by him until his arrest, but she’s now reportedly walking back her stance. The Mail spoke to production sources who say that Smollett left the set on Thursday “without filming any scenes because it was so obvious that he had been crying.”
It appears that actions are indeed being taken. Following the press conference, 20th Century Fox stated that they are “evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.” Fox 5 out of D.C. now reports that Smollett will be removed from the final two episodes of Empire‘s current season. And Empire producers have issued another statement, making it clear that, yes Smollett has been removed from episodes, but he isn’t fired yet (while the legal process plays out):
“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.”
This follows TNT deciding not to air an upcoming Drop The Mic episode in which Smollett challenges American Idol alum Clay Aiken.
Smollett’s bond hearing — his first court appearance since being charged for his allegedly false report about a homophobic and racial attack — resulted in a $100,000 bail setting and the surrender of his passport. The Wrap relays a statement from his representatives, who say that he “feels betrayed” and calls the Chicago PD press conference “an organized law enforcement spectacle.” You can read the full statement below:
“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election. Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”