The fate of Jussie Smollet's return to Empire has finally been decided upon.
In an interview with TV Line, Fox entertainment president Michael Thorn made it very clear that the controversial actor will not be a part of the show's series finale.
"We're not going to bring Jussie back to the show,” he told the outlet. “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. 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."
"Our hope is that all of the controversy surrounding Jussie doesn’t overshadow the show,” Michael added, “which we think is bigger than him."
As fans know, last January, Jussie claimed he was assaulted by two men wearing ski masks. He said he had just arrived in Chicago from New York and made a late-night run to a Subway when someone yelled: "Aren't you that f**got 'Empire' n**ga?" He then claimed that the two attackers, later identified as the Osundairo brothers, proceeded to jump him, put a rope around his neck and pour bleach on him. Jussie additionally claimed his attackers shouted, "this is MAGA country!" However, Jussie was later accused of staging the hate crime against himself for attention and monetary gain. While he was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for the alleged lie, the actor was cleared of all charges in connection to the case in March.
Michael's statement comes just weeks after Empire's showrunner Brett Mahoney told TVLine that discussions were underway to possibly have Jussie return as Jamal before the show wraps it's sixth and final season this spring. “It would be weird in my mind to end this family show and this family drama of which he was such a significant part of without seeing him,” Brett admitted. “It’s fair to say it’s being discussed, but there’s no plan as of yet to bring him back. There’s been no decision made.”
Jussie played Lucious Lyon's son since Empire debuted in 2015. However, he was written out of the final episodes of season 5 following his allegedly staged attack.
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