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    'Empire' producers remove Jussie Smollett from final two episodes of season following charges

    Producers of the 20th Century Fox Television show "Empire" decided Friday to remove actor Jussie Smollett from the final two episodes of the latest season following the actor's arrest.

    "The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us," the executive producers of "Empire" said in a joint statement Friday.

    "Jussie has been an important member of our 'Empire' family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out," they said. "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."

    The actor was charged Thursday on the suspicion of filing a false police report claiming to have been the victim of a hate crime.

    Smollett told police in January that he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home around 2 a.m. The actor, who is black and gay, said he was beaten, had racist and homophobic comments shouted at him, had a chemical substance poured on him and a rope was looped around his neck before the attackers fled.

    Brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo were arrested last week for allegedly being connected to the attack. They were later released without charges. Ola Osundairo appeared in season two of "Empire." The Osundairo brothers told police that Smollett wrote them a check for $3,500 to carry out the attack.

    The police superintendent told reporters the brothers wore gloves during the incident and "punched him a little bit." He said he believes the scratches and bruises on Smollett's face were "most likely self-inflicted."

    Chicago police said Smollett had sent a threatening racist and homophobic letter to himself at the Fox studio lot before the purported attack, noting that the actor had been dissatisfied with his salary.

    Smollett was paid $65,000 per episode for co-starring in the series, according to HuffPost.

    On Thursday, Warner Bros.-owned TNT pulled an episode of "Drop the Mic" that featured Smollet, according to Jensen Karp, the executive producer and head writer of the show. Karp tweeted that the episode would no longer be airing. It had been scheduled to air March 6.


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