Can’t wait for the inevitable Lifetime movie about Jussie Smollett? Neither could The Daily Show host Trevor Noah.
Smollett, 36, who plays gay performer Jamal Lyon on the Fox drama Empire, reported January 29 that he was brutally attacked in Chicago by two masked assailants using racist and homophobic slurs. The attackers also allegedly tied rope around the out actor’s neck and poured bleach on him.
Nigerian brothers Olabinjo “Ola” and Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo, questioned by police as suspects, then “shifted the trajectory of the investigation” by providing evidence that they had been paid by Smollett to orchestrate the assault.
The Chicago Police Department confirmed Thursday that Smollett had been apprehended and was in custody. He was reportedly released on $100,000 bail.
“It seems like a fake story,” says Noah in a Daily Show digital exclusive. “It seems like the perfect Lifetime movie. So I was like, ’Why don’t we just make a Lifetime movie?'”
Told by producers that there wasn’t enough time to pull that together, Noah quipped, “It doesn’t matter. It’s Lifetime. It doesn’t need to look good.”
The faux trailer for the resulting Lifetime movie spoof, Jussie’s Lie, stars 24-year-old gay comedian and Daily Show correspondent Jaboukie Young-White.
“His poverty drove him to crime,” says the voiceover narrator. “They didn’t take him seriously enough.”
“Mmm, I love eating sandwiches at 2am,” Young-White’s Smollett says before the planned attack. “Hey, aren’t you that actor that is underpaid on the show Empire who is very famous?” his two Nigerian buddies ask, reading from a script. “And gay!”
Referencing Smollett’s statements during his first public appearance following the reported attack, the fictional victim falls to the ground, declaring, “I’m the gay Tupac.”
Young-White, who was recently featured in Teen Vogue’s “Young Hollywood” issue, discussed the Smollett controversy in an on-air Daily Show segment earlier this week.
“I look like him,” the comedian said, clarifying, “To white people I do. And hopefully to whoever is casting the Jussie Smollett Lifetime movie. Because this story was made for Lifetime. We’re still piecing together leaks from the Chicago Police Department and more reliable sources like TMZ. But you couldn’t have written a crazier plot.” He also joked that there might soon be a role for him opening up on Empire.
“I don’t know why he did it, man,” Young-White continued. “If he wanted to raise awareness for LGBTQ rights, he should have just donated money. If he wanted attention, he could have just leaked his nudes. And if he wanted to hang out with two guys at 2am, Grindr is right there.”
Despite Chicago PD’s claims during a press conference that Smollett may have organized the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on Empire, the actor maintains his innocence. His attorneys have denounced the police for “an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system.”
Watch the Daily Show clips below.