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Jussie Smollett's legal troubles have intensified, and now not only has Fox responded to the actor's arrest, but an upcoming appearance of his on another program has been pulled. While we just reported yesterday that Fox was standing by the actor in the wake of suspicion that he staged his own attack in Chicago at the end of January, now, obviously, the situation has changed. Here's the statement Fox released after Smollett was arrested:
We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.
Even though many behind Empire, on which Jussie Smollett has starred for five seasons, and the network have come out in the past few days to say that he was not being written off the show or having his role decreased in the wake of allegations that he staged his attack, his arrest changes things in some major ways. As you can see from the statement, released to TV Guide, those involved behind the scenes are currently trying to figure out how to handle his role on the show, which has been filming its penultimate episode this week, while also respecting the legal process and the fact that, even with this arrest, Smollett continues to maintain his innocence.
Jussie Smollett first came under suspicion last week when two brothers who'd been interviewed by police about the attack on the actor were released without charges. Rumors began to spread that it was possible Smollett actually set up the attack, which he originally told police featured two masked men beating him, yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him, pouring bleach on him and putting a noose around his neck. Police investigated the claims that Smollett actually paid those two men to help him stage the attack, and last night he was indicted on criminal charges with his arrest for disorderly conduct and filing a false police report coming this morning. The felony charges against Smollett could see him facing over three years in prison if he's convicted.
Meanwhile, others who've worked with the actor have already begun to distance themselves from him. Smollett had filmed an episode of the hit TNT celebrity rap battle competition Drop the Mic which was scheduled to air on March 6, but the show's executive producer, Jensen Karp, tweeted this morning that the episode would be pulled, with a network spokesperson later noting to Deadline that they didn't wish to be "exploitative of an incredibly sensitive situation," and that his episode would be replaced with a different one "for now."
Clearly, though, Jussie Smollett now has more to worry about than the public missing out on his Drop the Mic appearance, or even losing his gig at Empire. Details on this story are still developing, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend and we'll bring you the latest on the case as details become available.