Jussie Smollett. (Source: Jussie Smollett/Insgaram)

Jussie Smollett Controversy Fails to Boost Ratings for ‘Empire’

(Bloomberg) -- Actor Jussie Smollett’s legal drama failed to generate much new excitement for the Fox series he stars in.

“Empire” returned to the air with a new episode Wednesday, the first since Smollett was charged with staging a hate crime, and audience ratings fell from the season average for the program, according to Nielsen data supplied by the networks.

Jussie Smollett Controversy Fails to Boost Ratings for ‘Empire’

Smollett, 36, appeared in a Chicago court Thursday in connection with the 16-count indictment accusing him of falsely reporting he was the victim of a homophobic attack. The actor, who is black and openly gay, pleaded not guilty. He plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the Fox program. The network, owned by 21st Century Fox Inc., said last month it would cut his character from the final episodes of the season.

The program, about a family-run musical dynasty, trailed CBS’s “Survivor,” “The Goldbergs” on ABC and a rerun of NBC’s “Chicago Med” in audience ratings. The program drew 4.41 million viewers, down from a season average of 7.15 million

But the show did better in the 18-to-49-year-old age group that advertisers target, coming in second place with a 1.3 rating. That’s still below the 2.3 season-to-date rating. The last new episode -- a midseason finale -- aired Dec. 5.

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