Empire fans will no doubt be happy to learn that their favorite musical TV drama has been renewed for Season 6. However, the bad news is that Jussie Smollett is unlikely to return.
“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,'” reads a statement released today by Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television.
“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,” reads a statement released by a representative of the actor in response to the statement by Fox, according to Variety.
Most fans are interpreting the wording of the statement to mean that Smollett is being kept out of the show pending the determination of the civil case in which the city of Chicago is suing him for the investigation costs.
The extension of the actor’s option for Season 6 could mean that he receives some payment even if he isn’t on the show. This gives him the chance to return in the future, but Fox could let him go permanently if, for instance, he loses the case.
— Negrotiator 📱💵💸 (@1EntreProNegro) April 30, 2019
Smollett has also been written out of the final two episodes of the fifth season scheduled to air in May, following the allegation that he staged a fake attack against himself in January and claimed that he was the victim of a hate crime.
Smollett has maintained that he is innocent of the accusation that he faked an attack against himself and the criminal charges brought against him were eventually dropped. However, the city of Chicago filed a lawsuit against him to recover the cost of the police investigation.
Hopes that Smollett will return as Jamal Lyon for Empire Season 6 were raised following recent reports that he had a meeting with Empire executives. But the latest statement by Fox makes it less likely that he will return in the upcoming season.
Empire Season 5 is currently airing on Fox. Season 5 premiered on September 26, 2018, and is expected to end on May 8, 2019.
Season 5 stars Taraji P. Henson as Loretha, Terrence Howard as Lucious, Trai Byers as Andre Lyon, Jussie Smollett as Jamal Lyon, and Bryshere Gray as Hakeem. The current season has so far followed the efforts of the Lyon family to regain control of their music company amid the distraction of problems in their personal lives, such Andre’s cancer diagnosis and the discovery that Lucious has a secret first-born son.
Brett Mahoney helms the show produced by Imagine Television with 20th Century Fox TV.
Empire airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on Fox.