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Fox’s Empire, the show no one ever heard of, which used to star someone we’d never heard of — until a few months ago — comes to an end in 2020.

Who can argue with this assessment?

Jussie Smollett, who played Jamal Lyon, was reportedly paid $60k per episode.

These days Smollett is likely sitting at home, because of his hoax crime in Chicago.

Vanity Fair summarises the situation well (emphases mine):

Smollett’s troubles began in late January, when the actor was hospitalized following what he claimed was a racist, homophobic attack. Police initially investigated the incident as a possible hate crime, but eventually set their sights on Smollett, arresting him on 16 counts of disorderly conduct. Weeks later, the charges were abruptly dropped—though Smollett and his legal team have continued to battle lawsuits from multiple parties, including the city of Chicago. In the midst of all of this, Smollett’s character was written off of the last couple episodes of Empire’s fifth season.

Deadline explains that Smollett’s character could be written back into the show’s sixth — and final — season, but there are no plans at present to do so:

… Fox Entertainment and now Disney-owned 20th Century Fox TV “negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for Season 6.”

However, with Jamal already written out of the final two episodes of Season 5 months ago as the situation around him grew more convoluted, the network and the studio added on April 30 that “at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire.”

Now there are no more plans for Empire to return to Fox beyond its next upcoming cycle, a fact that would have seemed absurd just a few years ago. In its first and second seasons, the  blockbuster drew big number from almost every facet. In fact, breaking the status quo of steady decline, for a while Empire was on a winning trajectory of growing almost every week in the ratings to hit new highs.

Not surprisingly, Fox Entertainment’s CEO did not discuss Smollett. From The Independent on Tuesday, May 14, 2019:

“We are turning the final season of Empire into a large television event,” Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier told a teleconference on Monday.

“One of the great benefits of announcing a final season is that you actually allow the fans to lean in and have the ending they deserve.” 

Collier dodged questions about Smollett’s future in the show. Earlier this year, the actor was accused of allegedly staging an attack in which he said two masked men beat him, hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, doused him with a chemical substance and put a rope around his neck.

The hoax was difficult to believe from the start. First, it took place on the coldest night in recorded weather history. Secondly, no one would ever describe Chicago, a city full of Democrats, as ‘MAGA country’. Stupidity on stilts.

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