*Conspiracy theories are filling up the vacuum left behind by the out-of-left-field death of Malik Yoba’s character Vernon Turner on the “Empire.”
The actor told TMZ last week that Fox execs informed co-creator Lee Daniels that “somebody had to die” on the season finale, but Yoba said he didn’t know which party – Fox or Daniels – chose his character in particular to receive the fatal blow.
There has also been talk that Daniels, who is openly gay, made Vernon that “somebody” to be killed as payback for Yoba accidentally outing co-star Jussie Smollett before the actor was ready.
In a February interview with Blackfilm.com, Yoba said of the storyline involving Smollett’s character Jamal being homosexual:
“So, obviously, Lee is gay. That was an important storyline for him. I think it’s important for people to see themselves. Even within the black community. But if you aren’t really, really taking it off of screen and making it live in the community in a significant way … like I know Jussie, he is gay, and he’s very committed to issues around the LGBT community. He and I have a very close relationship.”
Another rumor has drug use as the reason behind Yoba’s forced exit. The Inquisitr.com quoted an unnamed source saying:
“Malik Yoba is back on drugs and he was making everyone on the set uncomfortable. One star of the show even threatened to quit during the 10th episode, but then they upped their pay to convince them to stay. Fox caught wind of what was going on and gave Lee Daniels an ultimatum: ‘You tell Malik he’s fired or we will.’ Fox also threatened to shelve the show indefinitely if Daniels didn’t do as he was told. So he did, and the rest is history.”
Neither Yoba nor Fox have addressed the rumors. Fox maintains that Yoba’s character was killed off as part of a planned shakeup heading into season 2.
Meanwhile, the former “New York Undercover” star told the podcast Combat Jack Show that “Empire” executive producer/showrunner Ilene Chaiken deserves some of the blame for his sudden demise. He said:
“She runs the writer’s room, she’s in charge of hiring the directors and oversees the whole creative process of the show. So, I was definitely like ‘Dude? Really? There’s no way we can like… that’s the story. It’s bad enough y’all haven’t written anything real significant that I can sink my teeth into. People don’t even know who Vernon was.”
And sadly, the world will never will.
Season 2 has been green-lighted without Uncle Vernon for Lucious to kick around anymore.
Below, Daniels tells us what we can expect when the Lyons finally return.
R.I.P. Vernon Turner. We barely knew ye.