Jussie Smollett Indictment Casts Shadow Over ‘Empire’ Season 5 Return

Variety | 3/11/2019 | Joe Otterson
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“Empire” Season 5 returns on Fox this Wednesday night. The following day, series star Jussie Smollett will be arraigned in Chicago for allegedly staging a hate crime against himself.

The turn of events that left the Hollywood community and “Empire” fans stunned has cast a pall over the midseason premiere and left those at Fox Broadcasting and studio 20th Century Fox Television waiting with baited breath. According to multiple sources, it had been widely expected that “Empire” would be renewed for a sixth season and the show still enjoys support at both the network and studio. That’s not surprising, considering that even in its fifth season it remains one of the highest-rated shows on Fox. Season to date, “Empire” is averaging a 2.3 rating in adults 18-49 in the Nielsen Live+7 numbers, making it the number two scripted show on the network behind only “9-1-1.”

Hinges - Outcome - Smollett - Predicament - Empire

But much hinges on the outcome of Smollett’s current legal predicament. “Empire’s” executive producers announced shortly after Smollett was arrested that his character would be written out of the final two episodes of Season 5. They said this was done so that the show, which is currently in its final week of production on the season, could “avoid further disruption on set.” Many options are on the table regarding Smollett and his character, Jamal Lyon. Sources tell Vt is possible the character could be killed off or the role could be recast.

It also appears that Smollett’s role in the remainder of the season is being downplayed, despite Jamal’s engagement being a major storyline...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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