Fans were concerned about the status of Jussie Smollett’s character on Empire, but not the entire show, following his hate crime scandal. Quick recap of the scandal: shortly after Smollett, who is gay and black, said he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago on January 29th, he was charged with 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct for allegedly conspiring with the attackers. Those charges were later dropped.
When the charges were dropped, Fox welcomed him back, but then backtracked. But on Monday, Fox announced that season 6 will be the final season for Empire. “We are turning the final season into a television event, we are trying to go out guns blazing,” Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier said. “You allow fans to lean in and have the ending they deserve.
Smollett will not return, Collier said.
“Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and Lucious (Terrence Howard), the two larger-than-life characters at the center of the series, have taken viewers through the highs and lows that come with fame and fortune. As the series enters its final season, one thing is for sure, the Lyons never go out without a bang,” according to the network.
When pressed by reporters, Collier admitted that Empire’s cancellation creates a diversity problem at the network, as it comes on the heels of the cancelations of Lethal Weapon, Rel, Proven Innocent, The Cool Kids and Star, all of which featured a diverse set of characters.
Collier said, “The diversity of Fox is an issue that is so important and an ongoing effort for us to make sure we’re best in class. As I was looking at Fox and joining, what’s remarkable is that the history of this company and what it’s done in terms of diversity…. If you look across our slate in terms of scripted and unscripted and sports, we really are doing a good job but the job never stops. The effort continues, it never stops.”