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Empire Producers Make Move to 'Avoid Further Disruption'

Jussie Smollett axed from final two episodes of this season
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2019 11:05 AM CST
This image released by Fox shows Jussie Smollett, left, and AZ Kelsey in a scene from an episode of "Empire" that originally aired on Oct. 10, 2018.   (Chuck Hodes/FOX via AP)

(Newser) – One of the first places Jussie Smollett headed after being released on bond Thursday was back to work, showing up on the set of Empire to reportedly shoot some scenes and plead his case with the cast and crew. It looks like he won't be doing that again anytime soon: Deadline reports the Fox show's producers have decided to nix Smollet's character of Jamal for the remainder of this season, which is two more episodes. "Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply," say the producers, who include Lee Daniels and Brian Grazer. "While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out."

They add that the move was made due to the "effects" on Smollett's colleagues, and to "avoid further disruption on set." A source tells Deadline that the on-set assembly with Smollett was tense and "very stressful for everyone." NBC News reports Smollett was released Thursday after posting $10,000 of his $100,000 bond on a felony disorderly conduct charge, just hours after a hearing in which a "stern" judge called Smollett's alleged staging of a hate crime "outrageous," per Fox News. (Read more Jussie Smollett stories.)

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