Hours after reports confirmed that Jussie Smollett was arrested and charged with allegedly falsifying a police report, TNT announced that it will be shelving an upcoming episode of Drop the Mic that was to feature the embattled Empire actor as one of the rap-battle show’s competitors.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the March 6 episode of Drop the Mic was scheduled to feature a rap battle pitting Smollett against Orange Is the New Black star Danielle Brooks — as well as a separate battle between American Idol alumnus Clay Aiken and Beverly Hills, 90210 actor Ian Ziering. In a statement issued to media outlets, TNT confirmed that the episode will be pulled, because the network does not want to take advantage of an “incredibly sensitive situation.”
“We are holding on airing this episode for now, and we are replacing it with the Raven Symone vs. Ron Funches and Joey McIntyre vs. Joey Fatone episode,” TNT’s statement continued.
In addition, Drop the Mic executive producer Jensen Karp took to Twitter to apologize for the situation, saying that fans will “never see” the segment involving Smollett. He explained that this also means viewers “sadly” won’t get to see Aiken, whom he described in his tweet as a “very good rapper (at least for now).”
As reported by People, Aiken reacted on Twitter with a post that might have spoiled the result of his rap battle with Ziering, while also throwing some shade at Smollett.
“FINALLY, I win a competition on TV and dumb #JussieSmollett screws it up so no one will ever know!! Just look at all the damage he’s caused!! Ya know what, @DropTheMicTNT I think he was just afraid for America to see me spit my rhymes so well. #threatened #sabotaged.”
Several people, including Jordan Peele, Michael B. Jordan, and Nancy Pelosi, have deleted their original statements of support for Smollett https://t.co/IqkheHhIZF
— Variety (@Variety) February 21, 2019
Prior to Jussie Smollett’s arrest, the now-shelved episode was available to view on YouTube for $1.99. While the video was still online at the time of The Hollywood Reporter‘s piece, a TNT spokesperson told the publication that the network is in the process of having the episode pulled from the video-sharing platform as well.
Earlier on Thursday, Chicago law enforcement officials announced that Smollett had turned himself in after days of allegations suggesting that the supposed racist and homophobic attack against him on January 29 may have actually been staged. In a press conference, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson referred to the incident as a “hoax” and a “publicity stunt,” further accusing the 36-year-old actor of setting up the attack because he wasn’t happy with his salary, per a separate report from The Hollywood Reporter.