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Empire has reportedly cut Jussie Smollett’s scenes amid attack investigation

Photo: Theo Wargo (Getty Images)

The investigation into the attack against Empire actor Jussie Smollett last month continues to be as messy and complicated as ever. Over the weekend, outlets began reporting that the Chicago Police Department believed Smollett staged the violent racist and homophobic attack himself, an allegation the actor denied in an emotional Good Morning, America interview. Empire writers were busy over the weekend too, reportedly at work on rewrites to reduce Smollett’s scenes in the upcoming episodes of the show.

According to a report from Deadline, Smollett’s scenes that were expected to be shot this week on the Lee Daniels and Danny Strong series have been cut. His Jamal Lyon was said to be the focus of the penultimate episode of Empire’s current fifth season, which is shooting this week. An initial report from TMZ detailed that those scenes, as well as his involvement in a big musical number, have been axed. Deadline reports that multiple upcoming episodes have undergone “serious rewrites” to reduce Smollett’s Jamal “both in dramatic stints and musical performances.” Fox has yet to comment on the report.

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It was previously speculated that Smollett faked the attack against him in response to the series’ supposed plans to kill off Jamal from the show. Fox, along with co-creator Strong and the series’ writers, quickly refuted that, insisting the mystery death the fifth season has been teasing all along isn’t Jamal’s, but that of another character. Just two days ago, Empire executive producer Brett Mahoney shared his support of Smollett on Twitter, so it remains unclear why the network has decided to cut back on Smollett’s role.

As of now, the CPD has requested another interview with the actor for further questioning about the incident and the two brothers formerly held by the police as “persons of interest,” both of whom were extras on Empire. Hopefully we get some clarity on this upsetting and messy situation soon.

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Oliver Whitney

Oliver Whitney is a film critic and culture writer living in Brooklyn.