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‘Will & Grace’ star jabs Smollett at GLAAD Media Awards as ‘Empire’ ratings crash and burn

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Well, that didn’t take long.

Just days after Jussie Smollett’s felony charges were abruptly dropped, he became the butt of jokes at the GLAAD Media Awards as actor Sean Hayes delivered a gag that got mixed reactions.

“I’ve been getting in shape for tonight with the Jussie Smollett workout. You hire two trainers and sweat for eight weeks,” the “Will & Grace” star joked at the podium Thursday when presented with his award.

The jab got “mixed reaction,” according to Deadline while the audience got more of a kick out of the 48-year-old actor’s suggestion that the GLAAD Media Awards could be Vice President Mike Pence’s worst nightmare or dream come true.

“We will never know,” joked Hayes, who was presented with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. The award is “presented to a LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting LGBTQ acceptance,” Deadline noted.

Hayes was the last “Will & Grace” cast member to be honored by the GLAAD Media Awards, and used his speech time to throw some shade at Smollett, who has maintained his innocence throughout the controversial case arising from an allegedly staged hate crime against himself.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 28: Sean Hayes accepts the Stephen F. Kolzak Award onstage during the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards Los Angeles at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 28, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for GLAAD)

Despite Smollett being indicted by a grand jury, the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who recused herself from the case in February, dropped the charges earlier this week. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago police blasted the decision in scathing rebukes, releasing the complete 61-page investigative report in the alleged staged hate crime. The city is also billing the actor for $130,000 to cover overtime costs police incurred in the investigation.

Smollett has not been exonerated, however, and further criminal charges can still be brought against him. A threatening letter Smollett claimed he received while on the “Empire” set is still under FBI investigation and could land the actor in prison for up to 10 years if he is found guilty of sending the hate mail laced with white powder days ahead of the staged attack.

President Trump announced on Thursday that FBI and the Department of Justice would be reviewing the “outrageous” decision to drop the charges.

While Smollett’s only association with the GLAAD Media Awards was being part of Hayes’ jokes, the 36-year-old actor is nominated for an NAACP Image Award for his work on the hit Fox series.

Actor Anthony Anderson, who is hosting Saturday’s show for the sixth consecutive year, is hoping Smollett will win for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series and believes that “the system worked for” him.

“I hope he wins. I’m happy for him that the system worked for him in his favor because the system isn’t always fair, especially for people of color,” Anderson told Variety. “It’s not my place or any other person’s place to judge him or what not, but I’m glad he’s nominated.”

The return of “Empire” to television after a mid-season hiatus on March 13 was not met with overwhelming fan attention and, following Tuesday’s controversial news about Smollett’s charges being dropped, the show’s views plummeted as ratings dropped to an all-time low on Wednesday night with just 3.97 million viewers, according to Daily Mail.

A call to boycott the show had spread on Twitter.

 

Frieda Powers

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