‘Empire’ Renewed For Season 6 By Fox; “No Plans” For Jussie Smollett’s Role To Return, Yet

The Lyon clan are officially coming back to Fox for a sixth season, but the future of Jussie Smollett on Empire remains in flux

“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,” Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV said in a side statement today.

Continuing to insist on his innocence, Smollett, who plays middle son Jamal Lyon on the Lee Daniels and Danny Strong created hip hop drama saw the 16 felony charges he was facing suddenly erased on March 26. Looking at potentially years behind bars for allegedly staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself on January 29, Smollett was saw his legal slte wiped clean, the controversial case sealed in exchange for forfeiting a $10,000 bond and credit for a then recent stint of 20 hours of community service.

There was no specific mention of the legally challenged Smollett in the official renewal statement from Michael Thorn, President, Entertainment for FOX Entertainment today.

Empire continues to break barriers with its emotionally powerful storytelling, and it remains a core part of the FOX legacy,” said Thorn.

“We want to thank everyone on the show – Taraji, Terrence and the entire cast, as well as Lee, Danny, Brett, Sanaa, Brian, Francie, Dennis and their teams – all of whom have done a tremendous job this season,” the exec added  “We know there are so many more stories to tell, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for Season 6,” Thorn concluded, just over two weeks after, as Deadline revealed exclusively, that Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard and other leading cast members of the series sent a letter to execs asking  “that our co-star, brother and friend be brought back for our sixth season of Empire.” 

Clearly, as more lawsuits fly around the Windy City related to Smollett, it was not a message that the Charlie Collier-run Fox Entertainment or the now Disney-owned 20th Century Fox TV agreed with.

With Smollett already written out of the final two episodes of the current season, Empire wraps up its fifth season on May 8.

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