In yet another dramatic turn in the Jussie Smollett narrative, it’s being reported that ‘Empire’ may be welcoming him back for its penultimate season.
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Smollett’s character Jamal was written out of the latter part of the FOX show’s fifth season in the wake accusations that he faked his January attack in Chicago. That case would go on to collapse before trial, with all 16 charges dropped.
While the network never wavered in its public support of the actor, it did later stress that his presence on set wasn’t pragmatic. And upon news of the show’s renewal for a sixth and final season, execs confirmed there were no plans at that time for Jamal to return to the ‘Empire’ landscape.
Now, it seems he may be back in the mix.
According to multiple production sources, writers are currently breaking ideas for the show’s sixth and final season with the expectation that Smollett will appear in the back half of the 18-episode season.
The same sources also note tensions were ratcheted up on set between the show’s primarily black cast members, who still believe Smollett is innocent, and the mostly white below-the-line crew, many of whom believe Smollett is guilty. The hope is that those tensions will have eased in the break between seasons should Smollett come back, but no final decisions on his return have yet been made.
At this point, it’s not as if there’s much to lose. It’s also a surefire means of luring back more casual viewers. Win-win?
Lee Daniels has taken to social media to deny the claim.