Jussie Smollett: 20th Century Fox and Chicago Police Deny Report of Staged Attack

A report claims that investigators are pursuing a possibility that the actor faked last month's attack as a response to being written off the Fox show "Empire."
Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC Event in Los Angeles. Smollett, who alleges he was the victim of a brutal racial and homophobic attack, is a former child star who grew up to become a champion of LGBT rights and one of the few actors to play a black gay character on primetime TV. His breakthrough came aboard the hip-hop drama "Empire," playing Jamal Lyon, a talented R&B singer struggling to earn his father's approval and find his place in his dad's music empire. It became one of the biggest network shows to star a gay black characterJussie Smollett-Profile, Los Angeles, USA - 20 May 2016
Jussie Smollett
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

For the past two weeks, one of the entertainment world’s biggest stories has been an alleged motivated attack on actor and performer Jussie Smollett. Now, a report from Chicago affiliate ABC7 claims that the incident may not have been a hate crime, but a staged situation meant to benefit Smollett’s career — while “Empire” producer 20th Century Fox and the Chicago Police Department have made statements denying the report.

ABC7 reports that Smollett did not appear for a planned Thursday interview with detectives and that investigators are questioning a pair of individuals who may have been involved. The report cites sources who say that Smollett’s character being phased out of the Fox show “Empire” may have been a possible motivation for staging the incident.

However, a statement from 20th Century Fox denies that there were any plans to write off Smollett from the show.

In addition, the chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department shot down the ABC7 report.

When details first emerged about the alleged attack on the night of January 29, they included claims that Smollett was assaulted by a pair of young men. After shouting gay and racial slurs, the initial reports also asserted that the two men proceeded to “batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.”

Many throughout various corners of the entertainment industry and the LGBTQ community had spent much of the intervening time since Smollett’s hospitalization voicing support for him and condemnation of the alleged crime. At the recently completed Television Critics Association press tour, Smollett’s colleagues on “Empire” spoke firmly about the actor’s resolve, and Fox CEO Charlie Collier also offered condolences. The Smollett family’s collective statement on the issue labeled the alleged attack as “a racial and homophobic hate crime” and an act of “domestic terrorism.”

Jussie Smollett has made a number of public statements about the incident, including one in writing to Essence Magazine and an interview on the Thursday morning edition of ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Days after January 29, still insisting it was an attack motivated by both his race and orientation, Smollett performed to a sold-out audience at The Troubadour in West Hollywood, concluding his set by saying, “We are proud. We are gay.”

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