Smollett Cut From 'Empire' Episodes As Fox Changes Tune

Jussie Smollett has been cut from the final two episodes of 'Empire' this season following his arrest for allegedly faking a hate crime against himself. 

"The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our 'Empire' family for the past five years and we care about him deeply," reads a joint statement from the show's executive producers. 

"While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out," the statement continues. "We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season."

Just 48 hours earlier, FOX said: "Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show.

Smollett was arrested and processed by Chicago PD on Thursday - after which he was released on $100,000 bail. The actor returned to the Chicago set of 'Empire' following his release, according to the Hollywood Reporter

He was excoriated in a fiery press conference on Thursday by Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who said "This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary so he concocted a story about being attacked," adding "This publicity stunt is a scar this city didn’t deserve."

"Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?"

Police say Smollett paid two acquaintances $3,500 to stage the January 29 hoax attack because he was dissatisfied with his roughly $1.17 million per year salary. 

As authorities laid out their case against Smollett, the narrative that emerged Thursday sounded like that of a filmmaker who wrote, cast, directed and starred in a short movie.

Prosecutors said Smollett gave detailed instructions to the accomplices who helped him stage the attack in January, including telling them specific slurs to yell, urging them to shout "MAGA country" and even pointing out a surveillance camera that he thought would record the beating. -AP

Smollett's legal team lambasted the Chicago PD in a Thursday night statement, calling the news conference "an organized law enforcement spectacle." 

"The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett," reads the statement. 

Smollett, meanwhile, trampled on Justice Brett Kavanaugh's presumption of innocence just months ago, but we digress.