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Empire Has “No Plans” for Jussie Smollett’s Character to Return

Jussie Smollett is not expected to appear in Empire’s forthcoming sixth season, Fox announced today. The embattled actor’s contract has been renewed for the season, but “there are no plans” for his starring character Jamal Lyon to return to the show, according to a statement from the network, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter and others.

Fox’s announcement follows Smollett’s very strange two-and-a-half month saga in which he claimed he was the victim of a violent attack and hate crime in Chicago. Police claimed Smollett staged the attack and charged him with filing a false police report, though the charges were ultimately dropped. The city of Chicago has since sued Smollett for the costs of its investigation, and the two men who carried out the alleged hoax have filed their own lawsuit claiming Smollett paid for and directed the attack.

Smollett’s future on Empire has been up in the air for weeks. As previously reported, his character was written out of the fifth season’s final two episodes, set to air in May. He was also reportedly cut this month from a starring role in the Broadway play Take Me Out. Smollett’s Empire co-stars, for their part, wrote a letter last week to studio heads and executive producers pledging their support for the actor and endorsing his return to the show.