'Empire' will go 1 more season, Smollett's future is unclear

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From left, Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett in a Season 5 episode of Fox's "Empire". That's true and it's a whole 'nother story.

The ensuing friction might be one reason that Fox is less than enthusiastic about dealing with Empire for more than one more season regardless which way they go on Smollett.

On today's press call, FOX Entertainment boss Charlie Collier said, "We are turning the final season into a large TV event".

In announcing the show's renewal late last month, Fox declined to say for sure whether embattled star Jussie Smollett would be returning at some point during the new season, adding that there were "no plans" for him to do so at the time.

Empire premiered in 2015 and quickly became a pop culture sensation; that first season averaged 17 million viewers for Fox. The "Empire" actor was arrested three months ago in Chicago for allegedly conspiring to stage a fake hate crime against himself and filing a false police report. "One of the great benefits of announcing a final season is to allow the fans to lean in and to have the ending they deserve, and that's everything we're trying to do with this iconic series".

The hit hip-hop-centric series will return to its original time slot on Tuesday evenings this fall and is poised to be as dramatic and shocking as anything we've seen from the Lyons den in the past.

Prosecutors inexplicably dropped the 16 felony counts against Smollett several weeks later, a move criticized by police, the mayor, and a state prosecutors group.

When pressed as to whether Smollett's legal issues contributed in any way to the decision to cap "Empire" after the next 20 episodes, Collier deflected the question, saying, "six years is a remarkable run".

Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe, Ta'Rhonda Jones, Serayah, Andre Royo, Rhyon Nicole Brown, and Nicole Ari Parker.

As for Star, which had been paired on the schedule with Empire, it fell victim to Fox's prime-time schedule, which is an hour shorter per night than the other networks, Collier said.

"Empire continues to break barriers with its emotionally powerful storytelling, and it remains a core part of the Fox legacy", said Fox Entertainment's president of entertainment, Michael Thorn. Moreover, the writers' room for the sixth season hasn't been opened yet either.

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