Empire is coming back for a sixth season, but not the beloved Jamal, aka actor Jussie Smollett.
That’s the word from network and studio execs Tuesday, who said Smollett’s contract has been extended into season six, but there aren’t plans to have his character appear, according to multiple reports.
“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,’” the network and studio said, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Smollett has been in the hot seat since the cold of winter when he claimed in January that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men in Chicago. But after investigating, Chicago authorities accused Smollett of faking the attack in order to raise his own profile and get a raise at his TV show job in the process.
Prosecutors charged Smollett with numerous crimes related to making a false report. Authorities later dropped the charges, but said the actor was not exonerated.
Smollett has continued to deny any wrongdoing.
Just last week, TMZ was reporting that it looked like Smollett was going to return to Empire as he was having lunch meetings with show execs. And Empire showrunner Lee Daniels indicated Smollett was like a son to him and had his support.
Now, it looks like Smollett is out of a job. In addition, the way Chicago prosecutors handled Smollett’s case still faces a probe of its own.
Stay tuned to this soap opera.