Lee Daniels: No, Variety, Jussie Smollett Is Not Returning to 'Empire'

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Posted: Jun 05, 2019 9:30 AM
Lee Daniels: No, Variety, Jussie Smollett Is Not Returning to 'Empire'

Source: Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Variety published a scoop on Tuesday revealing that producers on FOX's "Empire" were in talks to bring back Jussie Smollett for the last season, despite his months-long controversy. Multiple production sources reportedly told Variety's TV reporters that “Empire’s” writing staff "was breaking ideas for the show’s sixth and final season with the expectation that Smollett would appear in the back half of the 18-episode season."

FOX producers had already written Smollett off of the last few episodes of season five, so Variety's report sounded fishy. Sure enough, "Empire" co-creator Lee Daniels put that rumor to bed immediately. 

A Variety writer who saw Daniels's message said they'd updated the piece accordingly.

The actor, who portrayed Jamal Lyon on the hit drama, reported a hate crime against him in Chicago in January. He claimed he had been attacked by two homophobic and racist Donald Trump supporters. His assailants turned out to be two brothers from Nigeria, one of whom knew Smollett personally. They told police that Smollett had paid them to pretend to ambush him and staged the whole thing. 

Chicago police were incensed. Even more so when a few months later, as the investigation was heating up, the Cook County State’s Attorney office suddenly dropped all charges against the actor. The previously sealed records related to the case were released last week and there are more to come.