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Jussie Smollett Returns to ‘Empire’ Set After Posting Bail in False Hate Crime Case

Variety logo Variety 2/21/2019 Joe Otterson
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(Video provided by Fox News)

Jussie Smollett is back on the set of “Empire” in Chicago following his release from police custody on Thursday, Variety has learned.

Smollett was released after posting bail in Chicago after police accused him of staging what was originally reported as a hate crime last month. He was originally intended to film throughout this week on the Fox series, but his role was dramatically reduced in light of his ongoing legal troubles.

Whether or not Smollett will continue to work on the show as it wraps up the final two episodes of its fifth season remains to be seen. Fox has stood behind the actor for the most part, issuing multiple statements backing him as evidence grew that he had staged his own assault. Earlier on Thursday though, the network released a new statement that said in part, “We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”

Jussie Smollett posing for the camera © Brian To/Variety/REX/Shutterstoc Smollett surrendered to authorities and was arrested early Thursday morning in Chicago. He faces one felony count of filing a false police report. He has claimed that he was the victim of an assault in the early morning hours of Jan. 29 in Chicago, stating two men hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, beat him, poured bleach on him, and placed a rope around his neck. Smollett also said that the two men used the phrase “MAGA country” during the assault, a reference to President Donald Trump and his “Make America Great Again” slogan.

During a press conference on Thursday morning, the Chicago PD stated they believed Smollett staged the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on “Empire.” They also said that Smollett had sent a threatening letter to himself that was received at Fox days before the attack.

Smollett and his representatives have repeatedly denied that he staged the attack.

According to a bond proffer released by prosecutors on Thursday, Smollett enlisted brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo to help him stage the attack. He allegedly gave the brothers money to purchase supplies to use in the attack, including ski masks and and rope. Smollett is also said to have written a check to Abel in the amount of $3500 for he and his brother’s help in faking the assault.

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