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Jussie Smollett’s Long-term Future on ‘Empire’ In Question Despite Negotiation to Extend Contract

“Empire” fans received good news Tuesday that hit Fox series will be renewed for season 6. However, those expecting to see Jamal Lyon on their screens this fall will be disappointed.

Fox confirmed April 30 that the show will return but, at least for now, Jussie Smollett will not be included in it.

Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett has kept open the option of returning to the screen on “Empire” even as his character remains written out of any appearances. (Photo: VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)

“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 the show’s production company 20th Century Fox TV said in a statement released to various outlets.

Expounding on the decision further, Smollett’s representative said she’s appreciative of the show keeping the future of his character, who had been written out of the final two episodes of the season, open.

“We’ve been told Jussie will not be on ‘Empire’ in the beginning of the season but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal’s future open,” a rep said in a statement issued to various entertainment news sources. “Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and ‘Empire’ leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.”

The announcement comes a week after “Empire” creator Lee Daniels visited “The Breakfast Club” and discussed Smollett’s fate on the program.

“We’re in talks to figure out what we’re going to do with the show,” he said when asked about rumors of the actor’s impeding termination.

Smollett’s star began to dim in February after he was charged with making a false police report when he said he was attacked by two white men on a Chicago street as the actor was returning from a late-night run to a Subway restaurant. He claimed they hurled racial and anti-gay slurs at him, beat him, doused him with some liquid, and wrapped a noose around his neck.

By March, the actor pleaded not guilty to the charges and they were dropped before the month was over. The city of Chicago has since sued Smollett for the cost of the investigation into his case.

Despite his removal from the last two episodes of the fifth season of “Empire,” as his and his character’s husband went on their honeymoon, Smollett’s cast members wrote a letter to the studio, producers and Fox executives urging them to have the actor return to the show.

“We have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie’s personal character. He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest and above all, he is filled with integrity,” the lengthy letter obtained by The Hollywood Reporter said in part. “He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped. We are confident in his lawyer’s assurance that the case was dismissed because it would not have prevailed.”

The charges being dropped against Smollett, however, does not mean he is innocent.

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