Chicago police say they have no information to suggest the reported attack on Empire's Jussie Smollett was staged, as ABC7 reported Thursday. "We have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate," spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says in a tweet. Already circulating, the hoax theory spread as the lawyer representing two Nigerian brothers seen in the area of the attack on Jan. 29 said they knew Smollett from their time working on Empire as extras. "They're all very cordial," Gloria Schmidt tells CBS Chicago. Per CBS and CNN, the men left for Nigeria on the day of the attack and were questioned after returning to O'Hare International Airport on Wednesday, but "are not considered suspects at this time."
While CBS reported that bleach and other items were taken from the brothers' apartment Wednesday, ABC7 reported police were investigating the possibility that the men staged the attack with Smollett, who feared he was being written off Empire. The show's writing staff says that was never discussed. Fox, which airs the show, referred to the notion as "patently ridiculous." Smollett "remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him," the company says, per the Chicago Tribune. Smollett denied inventing the attack in an interview with ABC, saying he was "pissed off" by the suggestion. In reference to a threatening letter sent to him at the studio where Empire is filmed, Smollett added, "Did I make that up too?" (Much more on the case here.)