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Lee Daniels is definitively closing the door on Jussie Smollett returning to Empire.

On Tuesday, Variety reported that the Empire writers were preparing for the troubled star to return for the upcoming sixth and final season. But Daniels, the co-creator whose life inspired Smollett’s character Jamal, directly shot down that report.

“This is not factual. Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire,” he said on Twitter, replying to Variety‘s story.

Fox had no comment.

When Empire was renewed in May, Fox said there were no plans to bring back Smollett, who has been embroiled in controversy since what initially appeared to be a racial and homophobic attack against him came under question, resulting in his eventual arrest. The charges have subsequently been dropped, but he still faces a lawsuit from the city of Chicago where Empire films.

Talking to EW in May after the season 5 finale, showrunner Brett Mahoney said it was “hard to imagine” Smollett returning and that the writers were still figuring out how to handle his permanent absence.

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Lee Daniels and Danny Strong created this Fox drama about a kingpin of hip-hop (played by Terrence Howard) and his family, who fight him for control of the empire.
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