Fox is removing Jussie Smollett from Empire — at least for a little bit.
After police accused the actor of falsifying his report of a hate crime, Fox spent weeks insisting he wasn't being written off the show. Empire producers continued to stand by Smollett in a Friday statement, saying they were "placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out." Still, they had decided to "remove" Smollett's "role of 'Jamal' from the final two episodes of the season."
Last month, Smollett filed a police report saying he was the victim of a hate crime and that two men attacked him in Chicago. After inconsistencies emerged in Smollett's account, police arrested him Wednesday night on charges of filing a false police report. Chicago police then alleged on Thursday that the purported crime was a staged "publicity stunt" to "promote his career" and perhaps secure a raise.
Smollett has since been released on bail and returned to the Empire set Friday, reportedly telling cast and crew there he's innocent. Various reports suggested Fox would cut Smollett's scenes from Empire or even fire him, but the network didn't take official action until Friday. In its statement, Fox only said it was cutting Smollett's scenes "to avoid further disruption on set," and reiterated that showrunners "care about him deeply." Read the whole statement from Fox on Twitter. Kathryn Krawczyk