TNT will not air an episode of Drop The Mic feature Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who was arrested Thursday morning for allegedly staging a Jan. 29 homophobic and racist attack.
Drop The Mic executive producer Jensen Karp announced the decision on Twitter. The episode featured Smollett facing American Idol alum Clay Aiken.
"We had an episode of Drop The Mic this season with Jussie that you'll now (correctly) never see, but sadly it will shelve [Clay Aiken], WHO WAS A VERY GOOD RAPPER (at least for now)," Karp wrote.
"We are pulling the episode in the interest of not being exploitative of an incredibly sensitive situation," TNT said in a statement to Deadline. "We are holding on airing his episode for now and we are replacing it with the Raven Simon vs Ron Funches and Joey McIntyre vs Joey Fatone episode."
Smollett was arrested Thursday morning and indicted Wednesday with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report when he claimed he was attacked on Jan. 29 in Chicago. Brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo, who testified before a grand jury on Wednesday, were allegedly paid by Smollett to stage the attack, which he claimed was a hate crime. Smollett claimed two men assaulted him, yelled racist and homophobic slurs and put a noose around his neck.
Chicago police said the motive of the attack was to get attention after Smollett became unhappy with the salary he earned from Empire.
After Smollett was indicted, he maintained his innocence in a statement released by his attorneys.
"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," his attorneys said. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."
As for 20th Century FOX Television, which produces Empire, the studio has not addressed Smollett's future on the show.
"We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options," the studio and FOX said in a statement.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson called on Smollett to apologize to the city of Chicago.0comments
"Absolute justice would be an apology to this city that he smeared, admitting what he did and then be man enough to offer what he should offer up in terms of resources put into this," Johnson said.
Photo credit: Patrick Hoelck/FOX