As Chicago police investigate a tip that Jussie Smollett was seen with the two men questioned in his alleged attack, reports emerged that “Empire” is cutting the actor’s scenes from the remainder of the season.
Smollett, who plays gay singer-songwriter Jamal Lyon on the show, was slated to be featured in nine scenes and a big season-ending musical performance for season 5, TMZ reported. Five of his scenes and the musical number have been cut.
Smollett told police he was walking around 2 a.m. January 29 when two people he didn't know started yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him, ABC 7 in Chicago reported.
After being verbally accosted, the two men struck Smollett in the face with their hands and poured a chemical on him, ABC 7 reported. Police said at the time that one attacker wrapped a rope around Smollett’s neck before the two ran away.
Smollett received overwhelming support on social media, including from “Empire” co-creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong shortly after the police report went public.
There is 0% truth that @JussieSmollett was going to be written off of Empire. This rumor is totally false. He is the third lead and one of the most beloved characters on the show. Writing him off the show has NEVER even been discussed.— Danny Strong (@Dannystrong) February 15, 2019
You are not weak. You are brave. One of the bravest I know. Speaking your truth, a person living at the intersection of multiple identities, unapologetically, takes courage. I love you ❤️❤️❤️ https://t.co/3Ynylf35BM— jurnee smollett (@jurneesmollett) February 14, 2019
We’re proud of @JussieSmollett for speaking out about his story after the media and others doubted him. It’s important that we put a spotlight on the epidemic of violence faced by Black LGBTQ people. Watch him talk to @RobinRoberts on @GMA. https://t.co/wKm9FGvLdU— GLAAD (@glaad) February 14, 2019
February 15, 2019
Two weeks after the alleged attack, police arrested and questioned two brothers they suspected were responsible for the beating. On Feb. 16, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the trajectory of the case had "shifted" — that the two brothers had been released without charges and investigators wanted to speak to Smollett again, the Associated Press reported. On Sunday, Guglielmi issued a statement saying police "are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what's been unofficially released."
But Monday, ABC News reported the two brothers told police Smollett staged the attack on himself, because he was upset a threatening letter he received in mid-January did not get enough attention.
Police are now investigating a tip that Smollett was seen in an elevator with the two brothers on the night he says he was attacked, the new station reported. Guglielmi said the person who sent in the tip lives in the building or was visiting someone there, and reported seeing the three together.
Social media reaction was not as supportive since more details have come out.
People want me to apologize for believing #JussieSmollett when he claimed he was attacked in a homophobic hate crime— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@MuslimIQ) February 17, 2019
FBI documented 7175 total hate crimes in 2017 (20 per day) & 2018 is likely worse
I prefer to error on the side of compassion than on suspicion of wrongdoing
Cardi B is not too happy with Jussie Smollett. https://t.co/S9FxIRP83a— iHeartRadio (@iHeartRadio) February 19, 2019
Thoughts on Jussie Smollett case: He must be held accountable in the strictest way. He must repay resources used to investigate and serve time for the division he caused. The media should be the most outraged. He played all of them for fools. He knew they would cover it.— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) February 19, 2019
Something doesn’t add up. Full piece: https://t.co/VDt8hi5mBg pic.twitter.com/NvNt4G0LQd— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) February 19, 2019
“Empire” returns for the remainder of its fifth season on March 13.
MORE: AJC interview with Jussie Smollett
» Jussie Smollett attack developments leave some baffled, others outraged
» Police say they are investigating if 'Empire' star Jussie Smollett made up attack
» Chicago police, Fox dispute reports about Jussie Smollett attack
» Celebrities tweet support to 'Empire' star Jussie Smollett after brutal attack
» 'I'm OK': 'Empire' star Jussie Smollett releases first statement after attack
About the Author
Credit: Channel 2 Action News