Fox Boss Gives Final Word on Jussie Smollett’s Rumored ‘Empire’ Return

Jussie Smollett is shown in the wedding scene from Empire Season 5 (Credit: Fox)

Empire has permanently parted ways with Jussie Smollett, Fox Entertainment President Michael Thorn said Tuesday.

“We’re not going to bring Jussie back to the show,” Thorn told TVLine, extinguishing rumors that the actor’s character Jamal Lyon would return for the season 6 finale later this year.

Smollett was written out of the music drama near the end of season 5 after he told Chicago police officers in January 2019, that he was attacked by two masked men yelling racial and homophobic slurs.

Related Story: Terrence Howard Says ‘It Hurts’ Not Having Jussie Smollett on ‘Empire’ Set

The actor was later indicted on 16 felony counts for allegedly lying to police about the attack, but prosecutors dropped all charges in March.

Thorn said the scandal surrounding Smollett wasn’t the only factor in the decision not to bring him back, but it did play a role.

“There were a number of factors that went into the decision to not bring him back. There were many points of view about if he should come back or if he shouldn’t,” he said. “As hard as a decision as that was, for us — and when I say us I mean the network, the studio and the producers — it felt like it was in the best interests of the show and the cast.”

The Fox exec added that the network and the team behind Empire want to move on.

“Our hope is that all of the controversy surrounding Jussie doesn’t overshadow the show, which we think is bigger than him,” Thorn said.