TNT pulls Jussie Smollett's 'Drop the Mic' episode as Fox mulls over options after actor's arrest

  • "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett surrenders to face charges of filing a false police report claiming to have been the victim of a hate crime.
  • 20th Century Fox Television says it's "evaluating the situation and we are considering our options."
A mugshot of actor Jussie Smollett after making false crimes charge.
Source: Chicago PD
A mugshot of actor Jussie Smollett after making false crimes charge.

In a little more than three weeks "Empire" star Jussie Smollett has gone from alleged victim to the accused.

The actor was charged Thursday on the suspicion of filing a false police report claiming to have been the victim of a hate crime, and now his role on "Empire" could be in jeopardy.

On Thursday, 20th Century Fox Television said it is still evaluating its options, while Warner Bros.-owned TNT said it is pulling 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.

"We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process," Fox said in a statement. "We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options."

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the "Empire" actor "took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career."

"To stage a hate crime of that nature, when he knew as a celebrity it would get a lot of attention … is just despicable," Johnson said at a news conference.

Johnson said Smollett 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.

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

On Tuesday, it was reported that Smollett's scenes in episodes of "Empire" had been rewritten and reduced, but Fox denied that he was being written out of the show.

Smollett was charged Wednesday with felony disorderly conduct. He surrendered Thursday morning and could face one to three years in prison if convicted of the felony charge.

"Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked," Smollet's attorneys said in a statement.

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.

He claimed his masked attackers beat him, made derogatory comments and yelled "This is MAGA country" — an apparent reference to President Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again" — before fleeing.

Trump lashed out at Smollett on Twitter on Thursday morning.

"What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?" he tweeted.

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 they were paid $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."