From the New York Times:
By John Koblin
Feb. 22, 2019
The producers of the Fox drama “Empire” announced Friday that Jussie Smollett’s character would not appear in the final two episodes of the show’s fifth season. …
Mr. Smollett’s arrest — and his recent loss of support from many public figures who spoke out in favor of him after the [purported] attack last month — put Fox in an extremely awkward position. …
There are two more episodes left to shoot over the next month for the show’s fifth season. Fox has been a staunch supporter of Mr. Smollett’s for weeks, releasing a statement as recently as Wednesday saying that he was the “consummate professional” and denying he would be written out of the show.
But with Mr. Smollett’s arrest — and the Chicago police claiming they have key evidence to demonstrate he staged the attack — the “Empire” set was on the verge of turning into a circus. After Mr. Smollett posted bail, he was trailed by news helicopters as he returned to the “Empire” set. He did not return to the “Empire” set on Friday.
The move to cut him out of the final two episodes this season essentially buys Fox and producers of “Empire” some time to decide what to ultimately do with his character.
I’m reminded of when Joey on Friends gets cast as Dr. Drake Ramoray on the Days of Our Lives soap opera, but he immediately lets stardom go to his head. So he tells an interviewer that because he’s a better writer than the show’s scriptwriters, he just improvises most of his own lines:
Also, paging Weird Al Yankovic … the 1981 hit “Jessie’s Girl” by soap opera star Rick Springfield, who was playing Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital, is crying out to you for a Current Year rendition: