According to Variety, Fox is considering removing Jussie Smollett from Empire. Sources close to the production have told Variety that producers are reportedly making a decision about whether to suspend the actor after he was recently charged with filing a false police report.
On January 29, Smollett told police he was attacked by two unknown men who poured a chemical on him, tied a rope around his neck, and yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him.
Chicago PD arrested and questioned two brothers, Abel and Ola Osundairo, who were later released. Chicago media reported that the brothers informed detectives that they were paid by Smollett to stage the attack.
Chicago police named Empire actor Jussie Smollett as a suspect in a criminal investigation Wednesday, three weeks after he reported he was the victim of a hate crime.
The grand jury is currently being presented with evidence, which will decide whether or not to indict Smollett.
“Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony),” spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter.
“Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury.”
Smollett could face one to three years in prison if convicted. A threat letter that was sent to Smollett at the Empire studio before the alleged attack occurred is also being inspected by federal investigators.
According to the Cook County State Attorney’s office, Smollett is set to appear before a court for a bond hearing at 1:30 p.m. CT on Thursday. Smollett is also scheduled to work on Thursday in Chicago on the Empire set. According to a production source, as of Wednesday night, no changes had been made to the show’s shooting schedule.
Fox had stood by Smollett, with the studio issuing two statements of support and refuting various reports and rumors that he was being fired from the show. “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 Television and Fox Entertainment said in a statement Wednesday.
On February 14, Empire executive producer Danny Strong wrote on Twitter, “There is 0% truth that @JussieSmollett was going to be written off of Empire. This rumor is totally false. He is the third lead and one of the most beloved characters on the show. Writing him off the show has NEVER even been discussed.”