Following a report that claimed Jussie Smollett might be returning to “Empire” for its sixth and final season, the show’s co-creator and executive producer — Lee Daniels — immediately shut down any speculation.
On Tuesday, Daniels took to Twitter to respond to a tweet by Variety, which read: “‘Empire’ Writers Prepping for Jussie Smollett’s Return in Season 6.” The accompanying post also had a story attached to it.
“This is not factual. Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire. -LD,” Daniels wrote, instantly dispelling any rumors.
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A rep for 20th Century Fox Television had no comment when reached by Fox News.
In May, Fox announced that its hit drama would end after Season 6 and that there were still no plans to bring back Smollett’s character.
One month prior, Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV issued a statement, explaining: “By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season six, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to ‘Empire.'”
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At the time, a spokesperson for Smollett — who was written out of the final episodes of Season 5 — also told Fox News: “We’ve been told that Jussie will not be on Empire in the beginning of the season but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal’s future open. Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and Empire leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.”
In February, Smollett was accused of faking a hate-crime attack against himself in Chicago. He strongly denied the allegations and has maintained his innocence. Prosecutors later dropped all 16 charges against him.
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Daniels has stood by Smollett while the 36-year-old faced legal drama for his role in the alleged hoax. In April, the TV and film writer, 59, spoke up on Smollett’s behalf, saying he wanted the actor to know that he’d always have a support system.
“What I am learning right now is I can’t judge, that that judgment is for that man wearing that black coat with gavel and God. I can only support him because he is like my son, he is my son, so I am with him, I can only support him and give him compassion,” Daniels told Extra at the time.
Fox News’ Julius Young, Tyler McCarthy and Jennifer Earl contributed to this report.