Fox Stands Behind ‘Consummate Professional’ Jussie Smollett

Jussie Smollett (Credit: Deposit Photos)

UPDATED: Feb. 20 at 9:45 am PT:

After multiple reports out of Hollywood suggesting Jussie Smollett will be written off Empire, Fox says it continues to stand behind the actor amid the investigation into his alleged attack.

“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,” 20th Century Fox TV and Fox Entertainment said in a statement Wednesday.

Jussie Smollett’s future on Empire might be in jeopardy.

As questions continue to circulate regarding the alleged attack on Smollett last month in Chicago, Deadline reported Tuesday, Feb. 19 that the actor’s role on the hit Fox series has been reduced.

Sources connected to production told the outlet that this week’s scenes featuring the 36-year-old entertainer are being “slashed,” while upcoming episodes have undergone “serious rewrites.”

At this time, the show reportedly doesn’t intend to go back and change the five episodes of Season 5 that were filmed prior to the alleged incident.

TMZ first reported the changes to Smollett’s role, claiming five of his scenes in an upcoming episode have been cut, including a big musical number.

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"Empire" premiered on Fox in 2015. (Credit: Fox)
Smollett has been a main cast member on “Empire” since the series premiered in 2015. (Credit: Fox)

Empire showrunner Lee Daniels was one of the first people to voice support for Smollett, who said he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack perpetrated by two men in the early hours of Jan. 29.

Daniels, referencing the details of the alleged attack, said in an Instagram video: “You didn’t deserve, nor anyone deserves, to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be called die f—t n—r or whatever they said to you.”

Empire‘s executive producer Brett Mahoney reinforced the show’s support in a Twitter message on Sunday, Feb. 17. He posted, “I believe and stand by @JussieSmollett. Keep your head up. @EmpireWriters @EmpireFOX.”

Despite Mahoney’s support, Smollett continues to face scrutiny as new information about the alleged attack continues to emerge.

Over the weekend, Chicago police said new evidence changed the “trajectory” of the case, with the investigation shifting to Smollett.

That new evidence surfaced after two days of questioning Nigerian brothers Obabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo — who were earlier identified as “potential suspects.”

“We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the ‘Empire’ case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” Chicago police said in a statement Saturday night to Urban Hollywood 411. “We’ve reached out to the ‘Empire’ cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”

The brothers, who reportedly knew Smollett before the alleged attack, told CBS Chicago in a statement: “We are not racist. We are not homophobic, and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens.”

As for the entertainer, his team released a strongly worded statement Monday night.

“We are not going to respond to every new, anonymous accusation or rumor. Jussie Smollett’s lawyers are in contact with the Chicago Police Department,” the statement read. “Jussie will continue to cooperate with the investigation in an appropriate and respectful manner that does not include talking to media at this time.”