There are “no plans” for Jussie Smollett to return to the sixth season of Empire, TV network Fox says.
The actor, who plays Jamal, was accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself in January – which he’s always denied.
He was charged with allegedly lying to police, but Chicago prosecutors later dropped the case.
The decision was criticised by Chicago authorities, with Mayor Rahm Emanuel calling it a “whitewash of justice”.
Smollett’s character was removed from the final two episodes of season five and now it looks unlikely he will return for the new season.
In a statement, Fox said: “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.”
The Jussie Smollett case has been a complicated one to keep up with:
- On 29 January Smollett claimed he was attacked by two masked men, who the actor said made reference to MAGA (make America great again) – the slogan often used by President Donald Trump and his supporters
- On 14 February brothers Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo were arrested by Chicago police and questioned. They had worked as extras on Empire
- A few days later the brothers were released by police without charge and, on 20 February, Jussie Smollett was charged with filing a false police report
- Smollett was arrested and police say he paid the Osundairo brothers to stage the attack
- On 1 March the Osundairos said they “regret” their involvement in the incident
- Two weeks later, Smollett pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of disorderly conduct – and 12 days after that all charges against him were controversially dropped
Police claimed the attack was planned by the actor as a publicity stunt but Smollett has always maintained his innocence.
The city of Chicago has started legal action against Smollett to try to recover the cost of its investigation into the alleged attack.
His legal team is also being sued for defamation by the Osundairo brothers who say they continue to be accused of carrying out the assault.