‘Empire’ Co-Creator Lee Daniels ‘Beyond Embarrassed’ About Jussie Smollett Hate Crime Hoax

By Colin Fredericson

Empire” co-creator Lee Daniels said he was “beyond embarrassed” by the Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax after initially supporting the actor.

“I’m beyond embarrassed. I think that when it happened, I had a flash of me running from bullies. I had a flash of my whole life, of my childhood, my youth, getting beaten,” Daniels said in an interview with Vulture.

Daniels said that a part of him still doesn’t want to believe the accusations.

“Of course, there’s some doubt. I’m telling you that because I love him so much. That’s the torture that I’m in right now, because it’s literally if it were to happen to your son and your child, how would you feel? You would feel, ‘Please, God, please let there be that glimmer of hope that there is some truth in this story.’ That’s why it’s been so painful. It was a flood of pain,” Daniels said.

Season 6 of “Empire” will be the show’s last, according to the Chicago Tribune. Fox announced in May that the show would be coming to an end. Fox didn’t say outright whether Smollett was coming back at that time.

Daniels commented on a Variety report, initially titled “‘Empire’ Writers Prepping for Jussie Smollett’s Return in Season 6.”

“This is not factual. Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire,” Daniels wrote on Twitter.

The title of the Variety piece was subsequently changed to “Jussie Smollett Will Not Return to ‘Empire,’ Lee Daniels Says”

Daniels was asked if Smollett’s ordeal was why “Empire” was canceled.

“Certainly, that played a major part. But come on, man. I think that it’s been a good run,” said Daniels.

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Come on now ????

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“Star,” an “Empire” spinoff, was also cancelled on Fox after three seasons. Daniels was unable to find a new venue for “Star,” Vulture reported.

Smollett did not appear in the last two Season 5 episodes of “Empire,” after writers removed his parts, according to the Chicago Tribune. Police were still investigating the crime hoax at the time.

The files to the Smollett case were also ordered unsealed by a judge, and so further information about the planning of the attack and the relationship of the fake attackers to Smollett has emerged in news reports.

The Daily Mail reported that among the documents released are photos from Jan. 27, where Smollett’s car was captured on images while he heads to meet his friends and rehearse the attack. The attack was scheduled to happen the next day, but was put off for a day due to Smollett’s flight getting delayed.

During one part of the Smollett drama Daniels posted an Instagram video on March 20 that seems to refer to how it affected the show.

“These past couple of weeks have been a freaking roller coaster. Me and my cast have experienced pain and anger and sadness and frustration, and really don’t know how to deal with it. You know? Everything has happened, what you are seeing tonight, prior to the incident. And this is not what the show was made for. The show was made to bring America together.”

Smollett finally broke a self-imposed social media silence with an Instagram post on June 10.

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???????? @octarell_again ???????? So much #PRIDE

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