‘Empire’ extends Jussie Smollett’s contract for season 6, but he’s likely not celebrating …

 

(Image: screenshot)

Jussie Smollett’s “Empire” co-stars made a pitch to keep him on the show but it seems there are currently “no plans” for his character to return.

The Fox Entertainment hit series was renewed for a sixth season but the actor, who was embroiled in controversy since he allegedly staged a fake hate crime against himself, is not slated to be part of the story line, according to Fox News.

(Video: WLS Chicago)

“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,’” Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV said in a statement issued Tuesday.

A spokesman for the actor, who has played the character of Jamal Lyon since the series premiered in 2015, indicated that he was appreciative of the courtesy extended by the studio.

“We’ve been told that 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. Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and Empire leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support,” Smollett’s spokesman told Fox News.

The cast of the long-running hit show had sent a letter last month to Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment chair Dana Walden, Fox Entertainment president Michael Thorn, Lee Daniels, and “Empire” co-creator Danny Strong, calling Smollett “honest” and a man of “integrity” while asking for the actor to return to the show for its sixth season.

The Cook County State Attorney’s office dropped all of the 16 felony disorderly conduct charges against the 36-year-old actor in Chicago for his role in the fake hate crime which allegedly happened at the end of January, as Smollett claimed he was attacked by masked men wearing Make America Great Again hats who doused him with an unknown liquid and put a noose around his neck.

The record in the case was sealed and Smollett reportedly forfeited his $10,000 bond. The actor, who has maintained his innocence and had pleaded not guilty to all 16 counts, was subsequently sued by the city of Chicago in an effort to recoup the cost the investigating the case.

The two Nigerian brothers who were allegedly hired by Smollett to pull off the faux crime have also filed a lawsuit against Smollett’s attorneys for defamation.

Smollett, whose character was written out of the final two episodes of the the show’s last season, was reportedly seen having lunch last week with the “Empire” executive producer and showrunner, Brett Mahoney, according to Fox News. He was also spotted on vacation in Hawaii in early April after the charges were dropped against him.

Meanwhile, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has also been mired in controversy over the scandal for inexplicably dropping the charges against the actor. Foxx and her top deputy were subpoenaed last week for the controversial way the case was handled.

Over the weekend, President Trump slammed Smollett as a “third-rate actor” during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, calling the staged hate-crime case a “disgrace to our nation.”

“Empire continues to break barriers with its emotionally powerful storytelling, and it remains a core part of the FOX legacy,” Michael Thorn, President, Entertainment for FOX Entertainment, said in the statement Tuesday, according to People.

“We want to thank everyone on the show — Taraji, Terrence and the entire cast, as well as Lee, Danny, Brett, Sanaa, Brian, Francie, Dennis and their teams — all of whom have done a tremendous job this season,” he added. “We know there are so many more stories to tell, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for season six.”

While the news about the upcoming season may not seem great for Smollett, it seems an extension of his contract would mean he would still be paid even if not appearing on the show. “Empire” fans weighed in on social media after the announcement.

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Frieda Powers

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