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Jussie Smollett has played Jamal Lyon, middle son in the Lyon family, since Empire Season 1 in 2015. 20th Century Fox TV and Fox Entertainment issued a statement make it clear the network is standing by Smollett (via Deadline):
The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of Empire is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.
Empire co-creator Danny Strong also addressed the rumor, via 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.
The Empire Writers account also weighed in on Twitter, since the rumor had suggested they were the ones planning to write off the character of Jamal Lyon:
The writers of Empire have never planned or even discussed writing @JussieSmollett off of the show.
ABC 7 Chicago had reported that police were investigating whether Jussie Smollett staged the January 29 attack with help of two other men.
Anthony Guglielmi, Chief Communications Officer for the Chicago Police, responded by saying any media reports about the Empire incident being a hoax were unconfirmed by case detectives. He said they contacted ABC 7 to state on the record that they had "no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate."
The Chicago Police rep clarified that detectives had identified the people of interest in the area of the alleged attack, but those people weren't considered suspects at this point. They were just being questioned by detectives. Since the investigation is ongoing, he added this note:
To safeguard the investigation, details about the case including timelines & backgrounds of those being questioned by police will not be released or commented on while detectives question persons of interest. Media reports of investigative details cannot be confirmed at this time.
Jussie Smollett said he was attacked on January 29 in Chicago. He said two men in ski masks addressed him with racist and homophobic slurs, then physically attacked him by pouring liquid on him and putting a noose around his neck.
Empire is currently in the middle of airing Season 5. The huge midseason finale, Episode 9, aired in December 2018. Season 5 is scheduled to return March 13 on Fox, and the season will reportedly have 18 episodes in total. Keep up with all the relevant dates in our handy 2019 midseason premiere calendar.