After Jussie Smollett turned himself in to the police Thursday for allegedly fabricating a hate crime against himself, the producers of his TV series Empire have announced that his character Jamal will not appear in the last two episodes of this season. “The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us,” executive producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo, and Dennis Hammer said in a statement. “Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.” Empire is currently airing its fifth season, and will return on March 13 for the tenth of 18 planned episodes.
Smollett is currently free after posting a $100,000 bail and turning over his passport yesterday. According to accusations prosecutors laid out in a proffer, he staged the attack against himself with the help of two brothers Abel Osundairo and Ola Osundairo, whom he paid with a $3,500 check. According to police, he may have been motivated by complaints about his Empire salary, but sources have told Vulture that he didn’t make his frustrations known to his employers. Smollett reportedly returned to the Empire set late Thursday and told people assembled there that he was “sorry I’ve put you all through this.” He also continued to deny, as he always has, that he fabricated the attack.