Jussie Smollett suspended from 'Empire' after police say he faked attack

February 22, 2019 - 10:37 am

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – A day after Jussie Smollett faced a judge on a felony charge of filing a false police report, producers of the show “Empire” announced Friday that his character will be removed from the final two episodes of the current fifth season of the hit Fox drama.

Executive Producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer released a joint statement Friday morning. They wrote that it's been an "incredibly emotional" few weeks and that Smollett's character, Jamal, was being removed from the episodes "to avoid further disruption on set."

"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. 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.” 

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When Smollett returned to the set on Thursday after being released from jail on bond he reportedly apologized to coworkers and repeated his claim that he is innocent of the charges that he staged a racist and homophobic attack against himself.

Smollett's bail was set at $100,000 during a bond hearing Thursday afternoon, and he must surrender his passport, a judge ruled.

Prosecutors said Smollett gave detailed instructions to two brothers who helped him in a staged attack against him in downtown Chicago, including giving them specific slurs to yell and telling them to shout "MAGA country" and to drape a rope around his neck.

One of the attorneys, Jack Prior, told the judge during Thursday's hearing that Smollett maintains "these are outrageous allegations'' and denies they are true. But he and the rest of the defense team left afterward without commenting.

About a dozen family members and supporters of Smollett attended the hearing. They stood up throughout the proceedings and also left without addressing the large media contingent outside.

After he was released from custody, Smollett headed to the Chicago set of "Empire," Entertainment Tonight reported

TMZ reports that Smollett addressed everyone on the set, saying, “I’m sorry I’ve put you all through this and not answered any calls. I wanted to say I’m sorry and, you know me, I would never do this to any of you, you are my family. I swear to God, I did not do this.”

The hearing followed a press conference during which the city's police police superindendent said Smollett, "took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career" when he made a false police report about an attack in Chicago.