Monday, March 8, 2021

Lee Daniels Opens Up About ‘Anger’ and ‘Sadness’ on ‘Empire’ Set Amid Jussie Smollett Scandal [VIDEO]

Lee+Daniels+Jussie+Smollett+Paley+Center+Media+TTGyRC_zvr-l
(L-R) Actors Trai Byers, Bryshere ‘Yazz’ Gray, co-creator/Executive Producer Lee Daniels, and actor Jussie Smollett arrive at The Paley Center For Media’s 33rd Annual PALEYFEST Los Angeles “Empire” at Dolby Theatre on March 11, 2016 in Hollywood, California.
(Source: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images North America/Zimbio)

*“Empire” series creator Lee Daniels is breaking his silence on the cast’s “anger and sadness” amid Jussie Smollett’s hate crime scandal.

In a video posted to his Instagram Wednesday, Daniels shares his feelings about the controversy which has rocked the set of the hit FOX music drama.

“These past couple of weeks have been a freakin’ rollercoaster,” Daniels says in the video. “Me and my cast have experienced pain, anger, sadness and frustration, and really don’t know how to deal with it.”

He also noted that Wednesday night’s episode of “Empire” was filmed “prior to the incident.”

“This is not what the show was made for, the show was made to bring America together, to talk about the atrocities that are happening right now on the streets,” Daniels says in the clip (watch it below).

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Series producers removed Smollett from the final two episodes of Season 5 after his arrest on charges of filing a false police report and disorderly conduct.

“Jussie has been an important member of our ‘Empire’ family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season,” Daniels said in joint statement with the series producers.

Currently out on $100,000 bail, Smollett maintains he was the victim of a hate crime that went down in the early morning hours of Jan. 29 in Chicago. He alleges two men beat him up, hurled racist and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him and placed a rope around his neck.

However, investigators now believe he paid two Nigerian-American brothers to help him stage the attack. The brothers are now cooperating with the investigation.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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