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Empire Creator Shoots Down Reports that Jussie Smollett Will Return for Season 6

The saga continues...

Lindsay MacDonald

Empire creator Lee Daniels says Jussie Smollett will not be returning to the Fox drama for its sixth and final season, disputing a report that the actor would make a Season 6 appearance.

After Variety reported Tuesday that Empire's writers are breaking the final season with the expectation that character, Jamal, will return for the back half of the 18-episode season, Daniels tweeted, "This is not factual. Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire."

Fox declined to comment when reached by TV Guide.

Empire showrunners wrote Jamal out of Season 5 amidst the prolonged scandal surrounding an alleged hate crime against Smollett. In January, Smollett claimed he was the victim of a homophobic and racially charged attack. After weeks of investigation, Chicago police accused Smollett of faking the alleged hate crime, and he was charged with 16 felonies, including filing a false police report. Smollett has maintained his innocence, and all charges against him were dropped in March, but the city of Chicago has filed a civil suit against the actor to recoup costs of the investigation.

The controversy ignited a very public debate about Smollett and whether he should be allowed to return to the show. According to Variety's report, there is still tension between some members of the cast and crew over Smollett's credibility. In April, Taraji P. Henson and other castmates rallied behind Smollett, petitioning for his Season 6 return. Twentieth Century Fox released a statement saying, "There are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire."

Empire returns this fall on Tuesdays at 9/8c on Fox.

Jussie Smollett, Empire

Jussie Smollett, Empire