[Blind Gossip] You may be wondering what the producers of this show are thinking.
Why the heck haven’t they fired the cast member who is causing turmoil on their show?
It should be easy. But it’s not.
There are several factors at play here. We’ll talk about two of them.
The first is about the show’s ratings.
Even though they cut his story lines, they wanted to see what happened with the ratings in the meantime. There are a lot of jobs at stake. Does the show do better with him or without him? What feedback are we getting from advertisers?
Most importantly, they don’t even know if they are getting renewed. Why risk him suing them if they don’t even know if the show is coming back?
The second is about his contract.
While his contract has a personal conduct (aka “behavior”) clause built in, he hasn’t plead guilty to anything and there has been no trial to ascertain his guilt or innocence. As long as he continues to say that he is innocent, the studio has to pay out his contract. They can write down or write off his character, but they still have to pay him.
There is no point in announcing anything until they can simply say, “We will not be renewing his contract.”
So, in case you thought that this was about morality or emotions, think again. It’s about contracts and money.
That means you will likely not hear about any sort of decision for at least another month.
[Optional] If you were the producers, what would you do?
Actor: Jussie Smollett
TV Show: Empire
Your friends at Blind Gossip told you that it would be at least a month before any decisions were made about Jussie Smollett and his role on Empire.
It’s been a month and a half, and the decisions about the Empire – as well as Jussie Smollett’s role on the show – are now starting to fall into place!
As we told you, producers wanted to wait for both the fallout from the legal proceedings, as well as the decision about the show being picked up for another season, before making any decisions.
Despite poor ratings, Empire will be coming back for another season.
Fake hate crime mastermind Jussie Smollett is not in jail. His contract for the show will be renewed… but his character will likely get written off the show.
‘Empire’ renewed for Season 6 but Jussie Smollett’s return is in doubt
“Empire” will return for a sixth season, but the same can’t definitely be said for Jussie Smollett.
“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for Season 6, 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.
That means the studio isn’t including him in the series, but is leaving open the possibility of his return.
“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 spokesperson for Smollett said in a statement.
Smollett does not appear in the final two episodes of the show’s current season, having been written out as he grappled with the aftermath of what Chicago police have said was a staged attack.
The decision, producers said at the time, was made to “avoid further disruption on set.”
On the episode of “Empire” airing this week, Smollett’s character, Jamal, the middle brother of the Lyon family at the center of the show, is said to be on his honeymoon with his new husband. Plans regarding how writers will address the character’s absence into next season are still unclear.
The “Empire” season finale airs next week.
Last week, in an appearance on “Good Day New York,” series creator Lee Daniels said Smollett’s fate was still being considered.
“There are only two judges — God and that man that wears a robe. And I cannot judge. I can only have compassion,” he said.
Smollett was charged with multiple felony counts alleging the actor duped the Chicago police into believing he had been the target of a hate crime.
Prosecutors later dropped the charges against Smollett, but the city has asked him for more than $130,000 to cover the cost of the investigation.
Smollett denied the allegations and his attorneys have said the actor “will not be intimidated into paying.”
Daniels said on “Good Day New York” that Chicago’s pending suit against Smollett, as well as insurance issues, were “causing a dilemma.”
Smollett has starred on “Empire” since the show’s start in 2015.
This solution may seem odd, but it works on several levels.
It insulates the producers from being sued by Jussie – because he is still “on” the show and still getting paid – but it will appease the audience and advertisers who don’t want Smollett on the show any longer.
Talent contracts can be complicated. Even if an actor has a contract for a TV series, they do not have any control over the creative story lines or what happens to their character. Even if the actor has a contract, the writers can simply write out their character.
A star of a series is likely to have a contract where they get paid for every episode over the course of a season.
Another actor might be given a different guarantee, like a “10 out of 22,” where they are given a guarantee of getting paid on a minimum of 10 episodes out of 22 during the season. So if the show runs for 22 episodes and their character is written out after the first episode – or never even appears during the season – they will still get paid for a minimum of 10 episodes.
We don’t know what kind of contract Jussie Smollett will have for next season. Our best guess is that they are going to offer him the minimal “X out of Y” contract they can get away with. He will get paid for a few episodes… but will not appear.
Congratulations to Mystic1 for being first with the correct response!
Did you catch the big clue? Empire is a about a record label and the show takes place in the city of Chicago. Kudos to those of you who recognized that the record in the original blind item is cut into the shape of the Chicago skyline!