Fox’s “Empire” is a semi-popular television show about a hip-hop mogul who must choose a successor amongst his three sons who are battling for control over his multi-million-dollar “Empire.”
It stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, but the show rose to infamy when “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett allegedly lied to police that he was jumped in the streets of Downtown Chicago by President Trump supporters. Smollett was largely exiled from Hollywood as a result.
But Fox just made a final decision on whether Smollett would return for the upcoming “Empire” series finale.
Terrence Howard stormed onto the Hollywood scene with his performance as Cameron in “Crash,” which won the Oscar for Best Picture, but it was his role as Djay in “Hustle & Flow,” which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, that really put him on the map.
Howard was on top of the world. At least he thought so when he landed the role of Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes in “Iron Man,” of which he was famously replaced by Don Cheadle. For all intents and purposes, Howard became notoriously hard to work with.
That didn’t stop him from landing the lead role on Fox’s “Empire.” In its sixth and final season, Howard has claimed he will quit acting for good following the upcoming finale. Howard told Entertainment news, “Oh, I’m done with acting. I’m done pretending.” He concluded, “I’m just focusing on bringing truth to the world.” Many were shocked he’s ready to give it all up.
And his sentiments are somewhat ironic considering what his co-star did nearly a year ago when he claimed to be jumped by two MAGA Trump supporters on the streets of Downtown Chicago. The Chicago police department investigated and found that he allegedly planned the incident with two of his “Empire” co-stars.
Smollett was consequently fired from “Empire” and also a Broadway show he was rehearsing for at the time.
But a Fox executive revealed recently that despite his significant role on the show, Smollett will not be returning to “Empire” for the series finale in 2020.
Fox entertainment president Michael Thorn told TVLine, “We’re not going to bring Jussie back to the show. There were a number of factors that went into the decision to not bring him back. There were many points of view about if he should come back or if he shouldn’t. As hard as a decision as that was, for us… it felt like it was in the best interests of the show and the cast.”
It really doesn’t take a genius to come to that conclusion. One of the speculated reasons Smollett concocted this hate crime incident was to try and get a pay bump on his salary from Fox.
But why would you want to risk backlash by including Smollett in the finale?
Thorn added, “Our hope is that all of the controversy surrounding Jussie doesn’t overshadow the show, which we think is bigger than him.”
It’s definitely bigger than him. In fact, any show or movie is bigger than any one individual actor, despite them thinking it’s all about them.
Television shows and movies have a hundred or hundreds of people working on them and the star actors can be self-serving, willing to sacrifice the jobs of everybody else for their own arrogant star power or money-driven interests.
However, Smollett almost did return to the finale.
Showrunner Brett Mahoney said in December, “It would be weird in my mind to end this family show and this family drama of which he was such a significant part of without seeing him. It’s fair to say it’s being discussed, but there’s no plan as of yet to bring him back. There’s been no decision made.”
Thankfully Fox stepped in and made an executive decision.
Someone like Smollett, with all of what he’s accused of, shouldn’t be able to be rewarded for that kind of behavior.