Jussie Smollett's Empire screen time has been cut in half following allegations he faked his January "attack."
According to TMZ, the 36-year-old actor was supposed to be featured in nine scenes and a big musical number in the second to the last episode of this season, which is currently being filmed, however, five of those scenes have been cut, along with the musical number. Production sources also told the gossip site that Jussie's no longer the focus in the four remaining scenes that he's in. Since Jussie will not be shown in much of the last two episodes of the current season, he will be spending less time on set. Instead of working every day this week, Jussie will reportedly be working only two days this week, Friday and possibly Thursday, and he won't be rehearsing. However, his lighter workload has been more work for the Empire writers, who have been busier than ever re-writing the script. Sources told TMZ in the past 24 hours the script has "undergone multiple revisions."
As previously reported, the Chicago Police Department now believes Jussie paid two men— brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo— to orchestrate the attack on him last month. The men released a joint statement Monday (February 18) afternoon, breaking their silence after going from persons of interest in the case to potential suspects to being released without charges on Thursday (February 14)."We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens," the brothers said in a statement, referencing Jussie's claims two men shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him before attacking him.
On Saturday (February 16), two police officers told CNN that Olabinjo and Abimbola are cooperating with law enforcement after reportedly providing evidence Jussie paid them to attack him. "We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has, in fact, shifted the trajectory of the investigation," Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement provided toThe Hollywood Reporter.
Jussie and his lawyers— Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson — however, have denied the brothers' claims. "As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with," the actor's team said in a statement. "He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."
The Empire star claimed he was assaulted in Chicago around 2 AM on January 29 by two men wearing ski masks. He said he had just arrived in the city from New York and made a late-night run to a Subway when someone yelled: "Aren't you that f**got 'Empire' n**ga?" He claimed, the two attackers then proceeded to jump him. While Jussie said he fought back, he was ultimately overtaken by the men. Jussie additionally claimed that the suspects put a rope around his neck and poured bleach on him during the attack. Jussie's case is now reportedly heading to a Grand Jury. TMZ reports, "the focus is presenting evidence that could lead to a felony indictment against Jussie for allegedly filing a false police report."
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