(CHICAGO) — Hours after returning to the set of his show Empire following his arrest for falsely reporting he was the victim of a politically-motivated hate crime, Jussie Smollett has been temporarily cut out of the show.
In a statement obtained by ABC News, the show’s producers announce that they have removed his character from the final two episodes of the series’ fifth season.
Signed by series executives including Lee Daniels and Brian Grazer, the statement opens by saying, “The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us.”
It continues, “Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out.”
However, the statement adds, “We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”
The Empire star was arraigned on a class-four felony charge of disorderly conduct/filing a false police report Thursday and released on $100,000 bond. During his court appearance, Smollett maintained his innocence, denying he staged the January 29 attack. The actor claimed he was attacked by two men who hurled racist and homophobic epithets and put a noose around his neck, amd made reference to President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
After Smollett’s arraignment, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson told reporters that the “phony attack” was “orchestrated” by the actor “to boost his profile” amid “a salary dispute.”
Smollett was defiant upon his return to the set after being released — TMZ is reporting he told castmates he “swore to God” that he didn’t orchestrate the hoax.
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