‘Empire’ producers cut Smollett from season’s last episodes

Jussie Smollett turned himself in to police for allegedly filing a false police report

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, on a midseason break, returns March 13 with nine episodes. The last two episodes of the fifth season were still being made when Smollett was charged.

“Empire” has nine episodes left to air in its fifth season; the last two episodes are still being worked on. The show returns from its winter break on March

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.

READ MORE: ‘Empire’ actor Jusse Smollet turns self in to face false report charge

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.

As authorities laid out their case against Smollett, the narrative that emerged Thursday sounded like that of a filmmaker who wrote, cast, directed and starred in a short movie.

Prosecutors said Smollett gave detailed instructions to the accomplices who helped him stage the attack in January, including telling them specific slurs to yell, urging them to shout “MAGA country” and even pointing out a surveillance camera that he thought would record the beating.

“I believe Mr. Smollett wanted it on camera,” police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters at a Thursday morning news conference. “But unfortunately that particular camera wasn’t pointed in that direction.”

Smollett’s legal team issued a statement Thursday night, calling the actor a “man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence.” The statement called Johnson’s news conference “an organized law enforcement spectacle.”

“The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett,” the statement read.

Smollett is earning more than $100,000 per episode, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because salary details were involved. The studio declined to comment on the actor’s salary.

As is customary with a successful TV series, regular cast members on “Empire” received a boost in pay as part of contract extensions that followed the drama’s renewal for a second season, the person said.

Smollett is counted among the series regulars.

AP Television Writer Lynn Elber in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Don Babwin, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Testing winter feed

Testing winter feed lets producers know what nutrients are available

Rural municipalities bracing for possible RCMP cost hike

If proposal from province goes through, it could cost Ponoka County big time

Fed up residents make complaint at Ponoka County council

“Careless” dirt bike, ATV activity spurs residents to call out Ponoka County

George Gage was an ardent Ponoka businessman and sports fan

By Mike Rainone for the News George Hawey Gage and his wife… Continue reading

‘I shouldn’t have done it,’ Trudeau says of brownface photo

Trudeau says he also wore makeup while performing a version of a Harry Belafonte song

Wetaskiwin RCMP investigate armed robbery

Wetaskiwin police seek identification of suspects

Blackfalds RCMP investigate fatal collision with cyclist on Highway 2

32-year-old male cyclist from Red Deer was pronounced dead at the scene

NDP, Liberals promise more spending, while Tories promise spending cuts

Making life more affordable for Canadians a focus in the 2019 election

Vaping-related illness confirmed in Ontario believed to be first in Canada

Middlesex-London Health Unit had no further details about the case — believed to be the first confirmed in Canada

Canadian stars Virtue, Moir say in video they’re ‘stepping away’ from ice dancing

The pair thank fans for their support in an emotional message

Outspoken Imperial Oil CEO Rich Kruger stepping down later this year

Imperial Oil is about 70 per cent owned by Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp., since 2013

‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

Council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory for data collection

Canadian inflation decelerates to 1.9% as gas prices weaken

August was the sixth straight month that price growth was 1.9 per cent or higher

Most Read