Embattled actor Jussie Smollett is not expected to return to “Empire,” the musical drama television show that was just renewed for a sixth season.
Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV said in a Tuesday statement to HuffPost that Smollett’s character, Jamal, is currently not written into the season. Fox is the studio that produces “Empire.”
“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 statement said.
A spokeswoman for Smollett confirmed that the actor will not return to the show for now.
“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,” the spokeswoman told HuffPost. “Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and Empire leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.”
The news came about a week after the actor’s fellow “Empire” cast mates called for his return to the show in Season 6. Smollett was cut from the end of the fifth season in light of allegations he staged a racist and homophobic hate crime against himself in Chicago and then filed a false police report.
In a letter to several network executives, Smollett’s co-stars Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard defending his reputation.
“Throughout Empire’s five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie’s personal character,” the letter read. “He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity.”
The actor was charged in February with filing a false report after an investigation by Chicago police and the FBI. In March, he was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct relating to the alleged hoax. He pleaded not guilty, and charges were dropped later that month.
The cast mates’ letter last week said the “extreme political climate in our country has only made our system of justice and the court of public opinion more unjust.”