by G. Brown
They say when it rains it pours. Can somebody get the cast and creators of FOX TV’s “Empire” an umbrella?
When you have a major hit TV show, the only thing worse than having one of your lead actors caught up in off-screen legal drama is having TWO of your lead actors caught up in off-screen drama.
Jussie Smollett is out as a series regular on the show. According to Variety, “Empire” co-creator Lee Daniels confirms “Jussie [Smollett] will NOT be returning to “Empire,'”.
Smollett’s future on the hit show had been on the bubble following a bizarre alleged beating he suffered at the hands of ‘homophobic racists’ who the actor claims beat him outside his Chicago apartment building. In January, Smollett says he was attacked by two men wearing ski masks who said “This is MAGA country” as they doused him with an unknown liquid and tied a noose around his neck. Smollett says the men also yelled racial and homophobic slurs as they kicked and punched him during the attack.
In a plot twist no one saw coming, Smollett was arrested less than a month after filing his hate crime report on charges of filing a false police report. A second plot twist came one month later when all the charges against Smollett were dropped.
Some fans had hoped despite all the crazy personal drama Smollett be back next season as Jamal Lyon. The show will return for its sixth season, but it will do so without Jamal Lyon or Smollett.
The dark cloud that’s been hanging over actor Smollett also rained some bad news onto fellow co-star Terrence Howard who plays his dad on the show.
People magazine says Howard is “reportedly being investigated for criminal tax evasion.” Court documents retrieved by journalists show the government is specifically interested in “…possible financial crimes allegedly committed by the Empire star, his third wife Mira Pak and Universal Bridges Inc., a company reportedly owned by Pak.”
Earlier this year, Howard was hit with a $143,538.61 tax lien by California concerning taxes from 2010. That was loose change compared to the $1.1 million tax lien the feds hit him with for the same year and another lien for the year 2006 totals just over half-a-million.
The magazine also says Howard has hired a “…a high-profile, white-collar criminal attorney” to defend him.
It’s good Howard has a lawyer to guide him through the mess, but we’ve seen that plan not work for other Black celebs like “Blade” star Wesley Snipes who was sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion charges. Last year Snipes was ordered to pay almost $10 million in back taxes.
Depending on when his case is heard, it’s possible Howard could also have problems showing up for work on set.
Whether all the bad publicity with its cast lead FOX to end the series is hard to call. The show which slipped in ratings since its blockbuster first season was still pulling in good ratings and still a hit with critics.