Fox’s Empire has halted production, at least temporarily.
The move comes as temperatures in Chicago, where Empire is filmed, have plummeted to -22 degrees, with a wind chill in the -40s. The Windy City temperatures rival parts of Siberia, the Arctic, and is even reportedly colder than recent temperatures on Mars. At least seven have been reported dead in the Midwest due to the recent Polar Vortex.
Sources say the work stoppage on Empire’s fifth season is not related to the attack on star Jussie Smollett. According to a Chicago police report, the actor was walking on a street early Tuesday morning when he was attacked by two assailants yelling racial and homophobic slurs. The assailants also allegedly poured a chemical substance on the actor and put a rope around his neck. Smollett went to the hospital after the attack and an investigation is ongoing.
Production on another show, Fox’s freshman drama Proven Innocent, was also shut down.
Previously, Empire producer 20th Century Fox Television released this statement about the incident: “We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our Empire family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own.”
According to Deadline, trauma counselors and a SAG-AFTRA representative will be made available on the show’s set to talk with and listen to cast, crew, and producers and will continue to maintain a presence on set over the coming few weeks. And according to E! News, security on the show will be increased.
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- Jussie Smollett told Chicago police his assailants called out ‘MAGA’ during apparent hate crime