Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV confirmed Tuesday there are “no plans” for Jussie Smollett to return to Empire, the television show that made him famous. The casting decision was revealed when news broke that the hit show was renewed for a sixth season on Tuesday.
“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,” the studio wrote in a statement.
Smollett plays Jamal Lyon on the popular Fox drama — the gay, middle son of his hip-hop mogul dad Lucious, played by Terrence Howard.
“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 The Post.
Michael Thorn, the president of entertainment for Fox Entertainment, wrote in a statement about the new season:
“[Empire] continues to break barriers with its emotionally powerful storytelling, and it remains a core part of the FOX legacy. 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. 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.”
Smollett was written out of the final two episodes of this past season after being accused of faking the hate crime he claimed happened against him back in January. Charges were dropped by the district attorney’s office, but both his future with the show and the show’s future had been in question, and fellow cast members including Howard and Taraji P. Henson wrote an open letter to Fox asking for Smollett to be brought back.
“He is kind,” the letter said. “He is compassionate. He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity. He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped.”
Last week, Smollet was spotted getting lunch with Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney at a restaurant in New York.