Jussie Smollett’s time on Empire is up.
That’s the word from the Fox drama’s co-creator and executive producer, Lee Daniels, despite reports saying otherwise.
On Tuesday evening, Daniels took to Twitter to shoot down a story from Variety with the headline: “Empire Writers Prepping for Jussie Smollett’s Return in Season 6.”
“This is not factual,” Daniels tweeted in response to the story. “Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire.”
— lee daniels (@leedanielsent) June 4, 2019
Smollett, who played Jamal Lyon on the music drama, was written out of the final episodes of Season 5 following his alleged hate crime attack in Chicago on Jan. 29.
The actor said he was assaulted by two masked men wearing “MAGA” hats, who shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him. But police countered his claims, saying Smollett orchestrated the entire thing.
Cook County prosecutors charged Smollett with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report.
Despite the charges, he maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty. Then, in a surprise move on March 26, the state’s attorney’s office suddenly dropped the charges after Smollett agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bail and perform community service.
The city of Chicago responded by filing a civil lawsuit against Smollett to recover more than $130,000 it allegedly spent in police overtime hours investigating the case.
Even though the case was closed, the controversy continued and Smollett’s future on Empire remained cloudy.
In April, Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV issued a joint statement, saying the series had been renewed for a sixth season, and while Smollett’s contract was extended, there were “no plans” to bring him back.
“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 read.
Two weeks later, Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier told reporters during a conference call that the show’s sixth season would be its last.
“We are going out guns-a-blazing. Six years is a pretty remarkable run for a drama series,” Collier said.
Rumors swirled in Hollywood that Smollett would make some type of return before the series concluded.
But judging by Daniels’ statement Tuesday, it ain’t happening.