Charlie Collier, CEO of Fox Entertainment, has confirmed that controversial actor Jussie Smollett will not be returning to the final season of Empire.
Collier made the comments at the Television Critics Association press tour, and they confirm a previous statement from the show’s co-creator Lee Daniels.
Collier indicated that the decision not to bring back Smollett was made in coordination with the network’s partners. He also said that many things affected the decision, including discussions with those involved in creating the show.
In April of this year, Fox renewed the music-centric drama for its 6th season, and at the same time they extended Smollett’s option. Collier said that the decision to do this was made because the network was still trying to gather all relevant information and make a good decision.
But even then, Fox had no plans to bring Smollett back, Collier confirmed.
“Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire.”
In May, Fox announced that the upcoming season of Empire would be its last. But they did not specifically indicate if Smollett’s character — a gay man named Jamal Lyon — would be incorporated into these episodes or how he would be incorporated.
Since then, there have been a number of stories published that have expressed the belief that the show’s writers were developing ideas on how to bring back Smollett’s character and presumably Smollett himself. Though Daniels strenuously denied that this was the case.
In a tweet responding to a story in Variety, Daniels wrote, “Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire.”
Still, even after this, multiple inside sources insisted that the network was indeed having talks with Smollett in regards to his return to the show. Obviously, those talks, if they were occurring, bore little fruit for Smollett.
After prosecutors in Chicago charged Smollett with filing false police reports, Smollett found himself written out of the final episodes of season 5. Though the charges were later dropped, Smollett’s career is pretty much cooked.