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Empire Producers Remove Smollett from Season’s Last Episodes

Jussie Smollett and Rumer Willis on Empire (20th Century Fox)

The producers of the television show Empire announced Friday that they are removing Jussie Smollett’s character from the last two episodes of the season after he was arrested and charged in connection with a racist and homophobic attack he allegedly staged against himself.

“While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season,” the Fox show’s producers said in a statement.

Smollett was charged Wednesday with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report detailing the January 29 attack he is accused of orchestrating against himself in Chicago, where Empire is filmed. Prosecutors suspect the actor of hiring two Nigerian brothers, one of whom worked for the show, to beat him in front of a security camera and leave him with a noose around his neck. Smollett turned himself in to authorities Thursday and faces up to three years in prison if he is convicted.

“Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Chicago Police superintendent Eddie Johnson said Thursday. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn, and certainly didn’t deserve.”

The police chief added that Smollett paid the men $3,500 for the “choreographed” attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary,” and that prior to the attack, Smollett also sent himself a threatening letter containing homophobic and racist language and accompanied by a white powder.

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