The Jussie Smollett case has brought doubts over the future of Empire, which has yet to be renewed for a sixth season.
According to production sources speaking with TMZ, anxiety is high among cast and crew. The show had been renewed early in the past, with last year being the exception, as Fox waited until May to renew it for a fifth season.
The Smollett incident has so far unfolded during a scheduled hiatus, and while the show is still the network’s second highest rated drama among key demographics, according to CNN, ratings have been flagging.
It has already been announced that Smollett’s character won’t appear in the final two episodes of the season, and TMZ reports it will be explained that he is “out of the country.”
Smollett, who is accused of staging an attack against himself that he blamed on two homophobic, racist Trump supporters, and then lying about it to police, appeared in court yesterday as his lawyer, Tina Glandian, argued in favor of allowing cameras in the court room.
“We welcome cameras in the courtroom so that the public and the media can see the actual evidence and what we believe is the lack of evidence against Mr. Smollett and we look forward to complete transparency and the truth coming out,” she said, according to the Associated Press.
Smollett, who remains out on bond, was indicted by a grand jury last week on 16 counts.
Empire returns tonight at 8pm EST on Fox.