A new report by TVLine claims that producers are considering recasting the role of Jamal Lyon going forward as one option being considered for Season 6 of the FOX drama series.
The outlet writes that series co-creator Lee Daniels — who loosely based Jamal on himself and was one of Smollett's most outspoken supporters following his "attack" on Jan. 26 — is said to be on board to recast the role.
Daniels his fellow Empire executive producers — Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer — announced on Friday the decision to "remove" Smollett and Jamal from the last two episodes of Season 5. The decision was made after Smollett was arrested and later posted bail for his felony charge of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report related to the attack.
"The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out," the statement read.
"We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of 'Jamal' from the final two episodes of the season," the statement added.
Smollett, who has been a series regular on Empire since its debut, was arrested Thursday in Chicago in connection to last month's alleged hate crime. In a press conference, Chicago police claimed that Smollett hired two men to fake the attack because he was disatisfied with his salary on the show.
After being released, Smollett's legal team issued a statement on the events of the day, saying: "Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election. Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing."