The Empire crew has set up cameras for filming at the site where the show’s former star, Jussie Smollet, claimed that he came under racist and homophobic attack.
TMZ is reporting that Fox’s crew members for Empire were seen on Tuesday, setting up for filming near the site in Chicago were Jussie alleged he was attacked by two assailants wearing MAGA hats and yelling racist and homophobic slurs.
Production on Season 6, the final season of Fox’s acclaimed musical drama, is currently underway and it was apparent on Tuesday that the Empire crew was planning to shoot at the famous spot close to Jussie’s high-rise apartment building.
Although it was not known whether the show creators are planning to incorporate Smollett’s real-life drama into the storyline and plot of the final season of the series, fans have been speculating — based on the assumption that the choice of filming location couldn’t be a coincidence — that they could be using elements of the controversial incident for the show.
Filming scenes today for the Empire show in my Chicago neighborhood. Hundreds of crew and cast standing around waiting for the director to roll. Conspicuous NYPD police car parked for the scene — a little out of his jurisdiction. pic.twitter.com/LgyY3tOswY
— Jack Modzelewski (@JackKnifePR1) August 13, 2019
— michaelp (@mpbullship) August 13, 2019
they’re filming empire here in chicago (and doing their best to make streeterville somehow look like new york) and gotta say feels bad seeing a big budget network tv production build a prop homeless person’s shopping cart.
— dar (@thederrierefair) August 13, 2019
Smollett reported to Chicago police on January 2019 that he was attacked at about 2 a.m. at a spot close to his apartment on East Lower North Water Street in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood. He claimed that his attackers, who wore ski masks, physically attacked him, poured bleach on him, uttered racial and homophobic slurs, and hung a rope around his neck.
Police later identified the alleged attackers as the Osundairo brothers, Olabinja and Abimbola, and investigators claimed the attack was staged.
Although the criminal charges brought against Smollett were eventually dropped, the Chicago Police Department sued him to recover the cost of investigating the alleged staged attack.
After Chicago Police sued him to recover the cost of investigation, Fox execs announced they had decided to write Smollett out of the final two episodes of Season 5 and that he would not return for Season 6 of the show.
Smollett has consistently maintained his innocence of accusations that he staged the attack against himself. Some members of the cast of Empire reportedly lobbied Fox executives to reverse the decision to keep him off Season 6.
Some of the show’s stars who lobbied for his return were concerned that the exclusion of Smollett’s character Jamal from the show would hurt ratings.
The network announced in May 2019 that Season 6 would be the final season of the series. However, Fox execs have not indicated they are reconsidering the earlier decision to not feature Smollett in the series’ final season.