Empire: Fox Removes Jussie Smollett from Season's Final 2 Episodes

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The creative forces behind Empire have made a decision about Jussie Smollett's involvement with the Fox drama's final episodes of the season. 

Fox confirmed the explosive news in a statement. 

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"The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us," it reads.

"Jussie has been an important member of our EMPIRE family for the past five years and we care about him deeply."

Related: Empire: Fox Breaks Silence on Jussie Smollett Exit Rumors

"While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out."

The statement continues, "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.”

Jussie Smollett Attends Fashion Show

The news comes less than 24 hours after the actor returned to the Chicago set after posting bail on a felony disorderly conduct charge. 

Fox did say on Thursday that they were "evaluating the situation" and are "considering our options."

Smollett turned to Chicago police and alleged that he was the victim of an attack in which allegedly found two men beating him up, hurling racist and homophobic abuse, pouring a chemical substance over him, and tying a noose around his neck.  

Jussie Smollett Attends Event

He also said the men referenced "MAGA" as they fled the scene. He later appeared in GMA interview and said that he was "forever changed" by the supposed attack. 

Fox has supported the Empire star since, and shut down rumors that he was getting fired following the scandal. 

Related: Jussie Smollett Arrested for Filing False Police Report

“Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set, and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show,” the production company said in a statement at the time.

Jussie Smollett Attends Event - 2018

Chicago police opened up on Friday about their suspicions. In a press conference, they alleged that Smollett hired two brothers to fake the attack, and the reason they gave was that Jussie was not impressed with his empire salary. 

“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system," Smollett's legal team shared in a statement.

"The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election."

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"Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”

It's unclear how Empire will assess the exit on-screen, but for now, the drama is slated to return from hiatus on March 13. 

What are your thoughts on this?

Click below for the full timeline of events. 

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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I started selling drugs when I was 9 years old in Philadelphia. I did it to feed myself. But it was the music that played in my head that kept me alive when I thought I was going to get shot. And it was the melodies that I dreamt about that keep me warm when I was sleeping in the streets.

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