Fox Entertainment’s hit show “Empire” was officially picked up for a sixth season — but without one of its controversial mainstays, Jussie Smollett.
“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,’” Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV issued in a statement to Fox News on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for Smollett also told Fox News: “We’ve been told that Jussie will not be on Empire in the beginning of the season but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal’s future open. Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and Empire leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.”
Smollett was spotted vacationing in Hawaii earlier this month after he had 16 felony disorderly conduct charges dropped against him in Chicago for his alleged role in a hate-crime scandal. He also was seen last week having lunch with “Empire” showrunner Brett Mahoney in North Hollywood.
In a stunning reversal, the Cook County State Attorney’s office announced on March 26 that all felony counts against Smollett were being dropped and the record in the case sealed. Smollett voluntarily forfeited his $10,000 bond, and Smollett’s attorney, Patricia Brown-Holmes, said the funds would likely go to the city of Chicago.
Smollett, who has maintained his innocence, previously pleaded not guilty to all 16 counts against him.
The city of Chicago sued the actor in early April for the cost of investigating his controversial case, as promised, one week after the “Empire” actor refused to reimburse the city.
In a statement obtained by Fox News at the time, the city’s law department said it filed a civil complaint against Smollett, 36, in the Circuit Court of Cook County “that pursues the full measure of damages allowed under the false statements ordinance.”
“This follows his refusal to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on January 29, 2019,” the statement added.
The lawsuit didn’t include a specific monetary figure but suggested the amount the city would seek from Smollett would be higher than the $130,000 sought earlier.
It is unclear if Fox is holding off on a potential Smollett return until after his showdown with the City of Chicago.