Fox is canceling Empire after Season 6. The network made the announcement on Monday morning at a conference call.
According to Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier during a media conference call this morning, Empire Season 6, expected to premiere later in the year, will be the final season of the musical drama series.
When Collier was asked about the possibility of Smollett returning for Season 6, he stuck to the essential points of the statement Fox released last month that although Smollett’s contract had been extended with an option to return, there were currently no plans to bring him back to the show for the upcoming season.
Monsters and Critics reported in April that the extension of Smollett’s contract with an option to return in the future was widely interpreted to mean Fox execs were taking a wait-and-see stance pending the investigation of the civil case brought against him by the city of Chicago.
The civil suit was brought to recover the cost of investigations after Smollett was accused of staging a false hate crime attack against himself.
The city of Chicago brought the civil suit after initial criminal charges against the actor were dropped under controversial circumstances.
However, Collier took care to avoid suggesting that the decision to ax the show had any links with Smollett’s ongoing legal problems.
The latest development comes following reports last week that Smollett’s castmates were lobbying Fox executives to bring the actor back for the upcoming season.
According to TMZ, both Taraji P. Henson (who plays Loretha Lyon) and Terrence Howard (who plays Lucious Lyon) want him to return for Season 6.
They were reportedly concerned that the absence of Smollett’s character Jamal Lyon from Season 6 could hurt the show’s ratings.
Deadline backed up the report that Smollett’s castmates wrote a letter to Fox execs asking for his return to the show. With the latest development, it seems Smollett isn’t the only one losing his job.
However, Collier promised there are plans to turn Empire Season 6 into a “large TV event” so the series can end its run with “guns blazing.”
“We’re turning the final season of Empire into a large television event,” Collier said during the conference calls. “We are going out guns a-blazing. Six years is a pretty remarkable run for a drama series. You allow fans to lean in and have the ending they deserve.”
Collier also announced that Empire Season 6 will return to its original time slot of 9/8c. Season 5, which ended on May 8, aired on Wednesdays at 8/7c.
Smollett’s character Jamal was written out of the last two episodes of Season 5.