Jussie Smollett is no longer a cast member of Fox TV’s hit musical Empire. The disgraced actor’s character, Jamal Lyon, was written out of the last 5 episodes of the 2nd half of season 5, which returns from the fall break in March.
Empire fans can say with certainty that the body in the casket in season 5’s dramatic finale is Jamal Lyon.
The troubled 36-year-old actor was arrested in Chicago on Wednesday and charged with faking a hate crime. He was released on $100,000 bond on Thursday.
Despite vowing to stand him, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment issued a statement Friday, calling the allegations were “very disturbing.”
“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our EMPIRE family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out,” executive producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer told Fox News.
“We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season,” the statement continued.
The second half of Season 5 of “Empire” returns to Fox on March 13.
On Thursday, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson claimed during a press conference that the 36-year-old actor hired brothers Olabinjo, 27, and Abimbola Osundairo, 25, to help him stage a fake hate attack to boost his career and salary.
Smollett and his legal team continue to maintain his innocence, insisting he was a victim of a hate crime.
Smollett still faces federal charges of sending a threatening letter to himself via the US Postal Service. The federal charge carries a guaranteed prison term.