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Sunday, December 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Fox reveals how ‘Empire’ will handle Jussie Smollett’s character’s departure in final season

Bryshere Gray, from left, Jussie Smollett, Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard appear in a scene from "Empire." (Chuck Hodes / FOX)
Bryshere Gray, from left, Jussie Smollett, Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard appear in a scene from "Empire." (Chuck Hodes / FOX)
By Karu F. Daniels New York Daily News

Although it was officially announced that FX’s popular hip-hop series “Empire” was ending its final season, no one really knew how the Lee Daniels-created drama would handle the departure of one of its biggest stars.

In the aftermath of the legal woes surrounding Jussie Smollett following accusations he fabricated a hate crime against himself in January, Daniels announced in June that he will not be returning for the show’s sixth season, which is set to premiere Sept. 24.

So what will happen to the openly gay R&B singer Jamal Lyon, the character Smollett has played since the show’s January 2015 debut?

“He’s on his honeymoon!” Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier said Wednesday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. “Lee has spoken a lot about this situation and this story will reflect it.”

“You’ll see pictures of him in the background.,” he added. “He’s on his honeymoon in the storyline. Lee and the team have talked a lot about what they’re going to do, and there are some surprises at the beginning of this season that you’re going to love. And I really think ‘Empire’ is going to go out just on a high.”

When asked why the network extended Smollett’s contract despite his widely publicized legal ordeal, Collier said Fox wanted to properly assess the situation before making a decision about his future with “Empire.”

Smollett, 37, was indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct for filing an alleged false police report, though all charges were eventually dropped by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

The decision is currently being reviewed by a special prosecutor, including the actions of Foxx, who came under fire for squelching the controversial case.

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