Musical drama "Empire" is coming back for a sixth season but actor Jussie Smollett is less likely to return.
News of Smollett's probable exit comes exactly a week after the cast of the show released a letter, which was signed by lead stars Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard, urging the makers to reinstate the actor for the next season.
According to ET, Fox ordered another run of the show Tuesday, but the future of the actor, who plays Jamal Lyon, is uncertain.
While the network did not mention Smollett in the announcement, there are "no plans" to bring his character back currently.
"By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett's option for season six, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire," Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV said in a joint statement.
Smollett's personal representative, however, said the actor "appreciates" the network for keeping "Jamal's future open".
"We've been told that Jussie will not be on 'Empire' in the beginning of the season but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal's future open. Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and 'Empire' leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support," a rep for the actor said.
Smollett, who plays the Lyons' middle son, was written out of the last two episodes of season five after he was accused by Chicago Police of orchestrating a staged assault against himself earlier this year.
The 36-year-old was initially charged with 16 felony counts related to filing a false police report. The charges were later dropped, though the city of Chicago is seeking reimbursement from the actor to cover over USD 130,000 in investigatory fees, which he has refused to cover.
In last week's episode, Smollett's arc as Jamal appeared to have reached a full circle after the character exchanged vows with his longtime beau, journalist Kai (Toby Onwumere), in front of close family and friends.
A source told the publication that the culmination of Jamal's storyline in last week's episode was a creative priority for Smollett.
"This was an episode that Jussie really championed with the writers and a storyline he is proud of," the source said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)