Amid allegations that Jussie Smollett staged the attack against him because he was being written off Empire, the studio and TV network behind the hit drama have risen to the actor’s defense.
“The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of Empire is patently ridiculous,” Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox said in a statement to Us Weekly on Thursday, February 14. “He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”
The rebuttal came the same day that Chicago’s ABC7 Eyewitness News cited “multiple sources” who claimed that police were “investigating whether Smollett and the two men staged the attack allegedly because Smollett was being written off of Empire.”
Later that day, Chicago Police Department Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi disputed the allegations: “Media reports [about] the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives,” he tweeted. “[Superintendent] Eddie Johnson has contacted @ABC7Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate.”
The CPD has been on the case since January 29, when Smollett said he was attacked by two assailants who put a noose around his neck, poured a bleach-smelling liquid on him and yelled racist and homophobic slurs.
The actor shared his story on camera for the first time in a Good Morning America interview that aired on Thursday, February 14, telling anchor Robin Roberts that he’s “pissed off” about the attack and about the speculation that he’s lying.
“At first, it was a thing of, like, ‘Listen, if I tell the truth then that’s it, ‘cause it’s the truth,’” he said. “Then it became a thing of, like, ‘Oh, how can you doubt that? Like, how do you — how do you not believe that? It’s the truth.’ And then it became a thing of, like, ‘Oh, it’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth, you don’t even want to see the truth.’”
Nearly two weeks prior, the “Hurt People” singer returned to the stage for a concert at West Hollywood hotspot Troubadour for his first public appearance since the incident. “I had to be here tonight,” he said during the event. “I can’t let [them] win.”
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!