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Fox renews Empire for season 6, but Jussie Smollett probably won't be back

Photo: Empire (Fox)

The most recent season of Fox’s Empire was largely overshadowed by the real life of star Jussie Smollett, who claimed that he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic assault, was then accused of lying about the attack, and then had all charges against him dropped by the Chicago police in a confusing and seemingly unending saga. Now, the network has renewed the hit music industry drama for a sixth season, but Smollett’s issues with the city of Chicago are still hanging over the series. According to Variety, the network has extended Smollett’s contract to cover for season six, but “there are no plans for [his character, Jamal] to return to Empire.”

Still, this change to his contract means he could come back at some point, and a statement from Smollett’s spokesperson says he’s grateful for Fox, the Empire cast and crew, and the fans “for their unwavering support.” If we had to guess, we’d say the plan here from Fox and Empire is to sit back and see if there are any more developments in Smollett’s dispute with Chicago (the city also sued him to cover the costs of the police investigation, even though said investigation was dropped), at which point it can decide whether to bring him back or keep him away.

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