Fox recently revealed that they will be handling Jussie Smollett’s Empire character, Jamal Lyons, in a creative way.
Following the announcement that Smollett will not be returning to the show for its sixth and final season, Fox has been mum about how one of the central character’s absence will be explained when the show returns in the fall. Charlie Collier, CEO of Fox Entertainment, provided details about Smollett’s exit during the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Wednesday, per Entertainment Tonight.
“He’s on his honeymoon! [Show co-creator] Lee [Daniels] has spoken a lot about this situation and this story will reflect it,” Collier said. “You’ll see pictures of him in the background. He’s on his honeymoon in the storyline. Lee and the team have talked a lot about what they’re going to do, and there are some surprises at the beginning of this season that you’re going to love. And I really think Empire is going to go out just on a high.”
Collier also shared during the panel that, initially, the studio was willing to work with Smollett until they “gathered all the good information.” Smollett’s contract was extended on the show after he was allegedly attacked in Chicago back in January. However, the network decided to part ways with Smollett in June, which was confirmed by Daniels at the time.
Smollett’s personal legal troubles were reportedly what ultimately caused his character to be written off of the family drama. After stating that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack, Smollett was arrested following accusations that he had lied to police about the incident, per ET. He was then released and the charges against him were later dropped.
Back in June, footage from the alleged attack came out, in which Smollett is telling prosecutors that the attackers “doused” bleach on him. Chicago Police also released footage of brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo running away after allegedly staging the attack against Smollett.
Smollett still maintains his innocence and still insists that he was attacked, per The New York Times.
Although Smollett’s character won’t be returning to the final season of the show, which stars Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard, Collier said that viewers should still tune in and give the drama a proper send-off.
“Look at what Empire’s meant to television over the last season and what it’s done with the impact [on the] pop culture of television,” Collier said. “[We’re going] to truly gives the fans the send-off they deserve.”
Season 6 of Empire will premiere on Tuesday, September 24 on Fox, per Entertainment Weekly.