Fox is continuing to stand by Jussie Smollett amid the continuing investigation into the attack on the Empire star.
On Tuesday, EW confirmed that upcoming scenes featuring the actor, who has been the breakout music star from the hit series, have been both reduced and rewritten. And after previously shooting down reports that Smollett’s motivation for possibly faking this incident was that he was being killed of Empire, Fox is once again denying that he’s on his way out.
In a new statement Wednesday, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said, “Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show.”
While Smollett had initially been viewed as the victim of an apparent racial and homophobic attack, over the weekend, Chicago PD confirmed to EW that new evidence has “shifted the trajectory of the investigation.” New reports say that the two original suspects, who have ties to Smollett through Empire, were prepared to testify Tuesday in front of a grand jury that they were hired by the actor to stage the attack, before a call from Smollett’s lawyers postponed the proceedings.
Throughout the wild last few weeks of twists and turns in the story, Smollett has had the backing of Fox and the Empire creative team, including co-creator Danny Strong and showrunner Brett Mahoney, who on Saturday tweeted, “I believe and stand by @JussieSmollett. Keep your head up.” And the insistence that Smollett’s Jamal Lyon won’t be killed off of the series comes as the major story line of season 5 has been centered on a mysterious death, with the victim’s identity yet to be revealed.
Empire returns March 13.