Jussie Smollett claimed to be the victim of an alleged homophobic and racist attack last month while in Chicago. In February, he was arrested in custody and with a bail hearing scheduled for Thursday. A day later, Smollett was dropped the producers of Empire for the rest of the show’s fifth season.

Jussie Smollett News

“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us,” executive producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer in a statement this morning in reference to the supposed assault of January 29 and the events that unfolded after.

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“Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply,” the producers added. “While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. 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 move may at first seem to be a big one but with only a pair of episodes left to be completed, the producers can easily cut and work around Smollett’s scenes. On Thursday after Smollett turned himself in, 20th Century Fox TV and Fox Entertainment said they were “evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”

The move can also be interpreted as a stand. Just days ago, the companies described the actor as continuing “to be a consummate professional” and also “core” to the show. Now, they’re distancing themselves.

Like all the original cast, Smollett signed on for seven seasons on the show back in 2014. The original actors pull in around $100,000 per episode. The 36-year-old actor was expected to return for the sixth season however odds of that occurring are shrinking fast.