Executive producer of ‘Empire’ explains how the show is handling the fate of Jussie Smollett’s character

“Empire’s” off screen drama has created drama behind the scenes. After weeks of silence, one of the show’s executive producers is telling us it’s led to some difficult decisions.

Taraji P. Henson (as Cookie Lyon): “Thanks for staying with the family, son.”

Jussie Smollet (as Jamal Lyon): “Family first.”

Um, kinda…

With so many unanswered questions remaining on “Empire,” the biggest is the fate of Jussie Smollett’s character, Jamal.

Jussie Smollet (as Jamal Lyon): “My family certainly don’t need the noise right now.”

Smollett is indicted on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct by a grand jury after allegedly paying two brothers to stage a fake hate crime assault on him and filing false police reports.

The actor will be in six more episodes this season, but not the final two.

Brett Mahoney, executive producer: “It feels actually sort of organic in terms of the storytelling we were doing. It wasn’t ideal, but we found an organic way to work it in.”

Shooting just completed last week, but the recent events surrounding Smollett are having a long-lasting effect on everyone who works on the series.

Brett Mahoney: “It does rock everything because Jussie is such a beloved member of the cast. To have him go through this and to have these allegations, because the cast and crew is a big family, and family in crisis pulls together and gets it done, that’s what we had to do.”

With no commitment yet for Season 6, expect the Lyons family to be even more ruthless after regaining power of the empire.

Terrence Howard (as Lucious Lyon): “We are Empire.”

Brett Mahoney: “Not only does it come at a cost to them as a family unit, to Lucious and Cookie as a relationship, but also, the empire has been badly damaged by Kingsley, by Lucious’s illegitimate son, so they have to rebuild the empire and win back the trust of the fans, and it won’t be easy.”

Terrence Howard (as Lucious Lyon): “I thought we had each other’s back. That’s what we do.”

“Empire” airs next at 8 p.m., right here on 7.

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