ENTERTAINMENT

Jussie Smollett Will Not Return To 'Empire,' Lee Daniels Says

The actor, accused of staging a homophobic attack on himself in January, won't appear on the Fox show's final season.

Actor Jussie Smollett will not return to Fox’s “Empire” for its sixth and final season, the series’ co-creator Lee Daniels announced Tuesday.

“Jussie will NOT be returning to ‘Empire,’” Daniels tweeted in response to an article in Variety citing sources who said the show intended to bring back Smollett and his character Jamal for episodes leading up to the series finale.

Daniels said the Variety story was “not factual.”

Last month, Fox announced that the show’s sixth season, premiering this fall, will be its last.

Other than in some flashback scenes, Smollett has not appeared on the show since being accused of staging a homophobic attack against himself in Chicago earlier this year. In March, he pleaded not guilty to 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct relating to the alleged hoax. Chicago prosecutors abruptly dropped the charges later that month.

Amid the scandal, the show’s producers and writers cut him from the final episodes of the fifth season this spring.

Fox representatives said in April that Smollett’s representatives had negotiated a contract extension for the actor to potentially reappear on the show. But “at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to ‘Empire,’” the network said.

When the show was renewed for its sixth and final season, Fox reiterated that there were “no plans” for Smollett’s return, despite a letter from his cast mates advocating for his comeback.

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