Fox’s Empire will return for a sixth season, but there are currently no plans for Jussie Smollett’s character, Jamal, to be written back into the show, CNN reports.
Smollett’s character was written out of the last two episodes of Season 5 following his extremely high-profile scandal, where he was charged with 16 felony counts for allegedly lying to cops over an attack that authorities claimed he staged. All charges were later dropped.
“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for Season 6, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to ‘Empire,'” Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV said in a joint statement.
The “option” extension simply means that they haven’t completely closed the door on the character’s return for season 6, but that there were no concrete plans.
“We’ve been told that Jussie will not be on ‘Empire’ in the beginning of the season, but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal’s future open,” the actor’s spokesperson told CNN. “Most importantly, he is grateful to Fox and ‘Empire’ leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.”
Fox’s president said of the show’s return: “We know there are so many more stories to tell, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for Season 6.”
Members of the cast have reportedly been supportive of Smollett, who maintains his innocence in the incident, where he told cops he was attacked by two masked men who shouted homophobic and racist slurs at him in Chicago back in January.
Show creator Lee Daniels told Good Day New York last week that he would only offer compassion towards Smollett.
“There are only two judges — God and that man that wears a robe. And I cannot judge. I can only have compassion,” he said.