Fox’s critically-acclaimed series Empire has been renewed for a sixth season; however, Jussie Smollett’s future with the series remains unclear.
“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for Season 6, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire,” said Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV in a statement.
According to an insider for TVLine, the decision to extend Smollett’s contract — and thus pay him at least a portion of his salary — gives The Powers That Be some wiggle room in case they should opt to weave Jamal back into the show at some point next season.
Smollett was written out of the last two episodes of the series’ fifth season after being arrested in February for allegedly filing a false police report in which he claimed he was a victim of a racist and homophobic attack. All charges against Smollett have since been dropped.
“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,” Smollett’s personal rep told Entertainment Tonight in a statement. “Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and Empire leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.”