After Cast Tells FOX To Bring Back Jussie Smollett, The Network Cancels 'Empire'
Los Angeles, CA – FOX Entertainment announced Monday that the television show “Empire,” in which Jussie Smollett had a starring role, will end after its sixth season.
"We are turning the final season into a television event," FOX Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier said, according to Newsmax. "One of the great benefits of announcing a final season is you allow the fans lean in and have the finale they desire."
Collier also said there were no plans to bring Smollett’s character of Jamal back in the final season.
The television drama about a hip hop music family based in Chicago has been in trouble since Smollett’s hoax attack debacle that began on Jan. 29 when he told police he was jumped by two white men in his Streeterville neighborhood.
Smollett told police that he had been attacked by two white supporters of President Donald Trump on his way home from a Subway restaurant.
He claimed the men called him homophobic and anti-black slurs and told him “This is MAGA country” as they beat him up and put a noose around his neck. He also said they threw a chemical on him.
However, investigators quickly figured out that something was amiss, and then identified Smollett’s attackers.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson explained at a press conference the day of Smollett’s arrest that that police considered the actor a victim up until Ola and Abel Osundairo returned from Nigeria to Chicago and were taken into police custody, and then the investigation “spun in a totally different direction.”
“We gave him the benefit of the doubt up until that 47th hour. But when we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off,” he explained.
Police initially arrested the “Empire” star for filing a false police report on Feb. 20.
And then a grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct on March 8.
But the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against the “Empire” star on March 26 in exchange for him forfeiting his $10,000 bail and 16 hours of community service at the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s RAINBOW/Push Coalition.
After the charges were dropped, producers appeared to stand by the “Empire” star with a tepid statement of support, Vox reported.
“Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence, and we are gratified on his behalf that all charges against him have been dismissed,” 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said in a written statement.
But when “Empire” aired the day after the charges against Smollett were dropped, the drama about a hip-hop music studio and the family that started it received its lowest ratings ever, the New York Post reported.
Smollett took the microphone during a celebratory press conference outside the courthouse after an “emergency hearing” during which his charges were dropped and his record was sealed.
He thanked his supporters and said he was ready “to get back to work” after he declared, once again, his innocence.
But the prosecutor who dropped the charges has said they did not believe Smollett was innocent and that he stood behind the Chicago Police Department’s case against the “Empire” actor.
Only 3.97 million viewers tuned in to watch “Empire” on March 27, the New York Post reported.
This is down from just over 6 million viewers watching the FOX television drama six months ago, according to TV Series Finale.
Viewership of “Empire” has been slowly declining since September, but critics said the brutal drop to 4.39 million viewers when the show returned to the air on March 13 can likely be credited to the revelation that one of the show’s stars had staged a fake hate crime against himself.
Shortly after the charges were dropped, the city of Chicago filed a civil lawsuit against Smollett for failing to pay the bill the city sent him for all the overtime spent on police to investigate his hoax attack.
And investigations were opened into why the charges were dropped against Smollett shortly after the prosecutor’s office made the announcement.
Further complicating matters, it turned out that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who had recused herself from the Smollett investigation the day he was arrested because she had been assisting some of his family members, had not “formally” recused herself or asked that the case be given to another jurisdiction, as is protocol for recusals.
Smollett’s co-stars on “Empire” sent a letter to the television studio heads on April 19 that said since the charges had been dropped, the actor was innocent and they wanted him reinstated to the television show, Deadline reported.
They called the case against Smollett “political” and urged executives and producers to "keep Jussie on the cast so that we can all put this behind us and move forward."
Less than two weeks later, FOX Entertainment announced that “Empire” would return for a sixth season but it would do so without 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 said in a statement released April 30, according to Entertainment Tonight.
Collier’s May 13 announcement that Season Six would be the show’s last was the final nail in “Empire,” Deadline reported.