Fox Extends Jussie Smollett’s ‘Empire’ Contract, But No Return Set

(Bloomberg) -- Fox extended the contract of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett as it prepares for a sixth season -- keeping him on the payroll for now -- though there are no plans to bring the controversial actor back to the show.

Smollett’s Jamal character had been written off the program following accusations that he faked a hate crime in Chicago. Charges against the actor were dropped in March, but prosecutors said he wasn’t exonerated in the case.

Fox Extends Jussie Smollett’s ‘Empire’ Contract, But No Return Set

“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for Season 6,” Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV said in a statement. “But at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to ‘Empire.’”

Fox announced plans to renew the drama on Tuesday. The current season wraps up next week, and the network is set to present its new slate of shows to advertisers in the coming weeks.

The decision to renew Smollett’s option was made by the new owner of the 20th Century Fox TV studio, Walt Disney Co., and the Fox broadcast network. The extension signals that Smollett will stay on the show’s payroll until the end of the year.

“Jussie will not be on ‘Empire’ in the beginning of the season, but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal’s future open,” a representative for the actor said. “He is grateful to Fox and ‘Empire’ leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.