“Empire” will return for a sixth season but Jussie Smollett won’t be involved.
“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for Season 6, 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 joint statement.
Smollett portrayed Jamal Lyon, an openly gay singer, on the Fox series. In Jamal’s last appearance he married his boyfriend Kai in the first wedding between two gay, black men to air on primetime television.
“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,” a spokesperson for Smollett told Variety.
“Empire” writers wrote Jamal out of the final two episodes of season five but it was unclear if Smollett would return next season. Some members of the “Empire” cast penned an open letter to the show’s producers asking for Smollett to return.
“We are confident in his lawyer’s assurance that the case was dismissed because it would not have prevailed,” the letter read.
Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts for allegedly staging a hate crime against himself back in January. All charges were dropped in March. The City of Chicago has filed a lawsuit against Smollett for more than $130,000 to reimburse investigation costs. Brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who allege that Smollett paid them to stage the attack, are also suing Smollett’s attorneys Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian for defamation.