Fox’s Michael Thorn Says Jussie Smollett ‘Will Not Be Coming Back’ for ‘Empire’ Series Finale
As “Empire” heads into its final stretch, speculation is sure to heat up that Jussie Smollett might make one final return to the series that he exited nearly a year ago. But according to Fox entertainment boss Michael Thorn, that’s not going to happen.
“He will not be coming back,” Thorn said. “As you would expect when you’re finishing an iconic series like ‘Empire,’ that Brett, as the showrunner, along with his producing partners, would certainly have discussions about what’s the best way to finish the show. In this case, Jussie will not be coming back for the finale.”
Smollett left the show toward the end of last season, shortly after Chicago law enforcement accused Smollett of staging a high-profile hate crime against himself. The producers, responding to intense public pressure, wrote Smollett out of the final episodes of Season 5 despite protests from Smollett’s supporters on the cast.
The show’s producers have never given serious indication that Smollett or his character, Jamal, would return — Fox said prior to the start of the current season that there were “no plans” for him to reappear — but showrunner Brett Mahoney recently told TheWrap that given the show’s nature as a family drama, it would be “weird and particularly challenging to do [the finale] without him.”
“Our hope at Fox — and I know the producers feel the same way — is that the show, to us, is much bigger than some of the personal stuff that’s unfortunately happened for Jussie, where we just want the ending to be as epic as the beginning,” Thorn said.
“Empire” is currently midway through its final season, with the last run of episodes set to air later in the spring. Smollett’s absence throughout the season has been explained away by his character’s move to Paris.
When it first debuted in 2015, “Empire” was a phenomenon, putting up impressive viewership numbers throughout its first season. However, ratings have declined sharply over the course of the show’s run, and a surprise return for Jamal would surely boost viewership for the final stretch of episodes……..read more
Source: The Wrap