By now, you’re no doubt aware of the increasingly bizarre situation surrounding Empire actor Jussie Smollett and his claims that he was assaulted during a racist and homophobic hate crime on the streets of Chicago last month.
Police are now investigating the possibility that Smollett staged the attack with the help of two associated whom he met on the Empire set.
Needless to say, the news that Smollett may have orchestrated an elaborate hoax was greeted with widespread shock and consternation.
Numerous public figures stood up for the actor, even amidst early reports that police were suspicious of the attack.
Now, many of Smollett’s most fervent defenders have become his harshest critics.
And it seems that includes the Empire producers who helped make him famous.
Many expect Smollett to be fired from the show if it turns out that there’s any merit to the allegations against him.
Despite rumors to the contrary, no such verdict has been rendered by the show’s top brass at this point, but according to a new report from TMZ, Smollett’s role on the show has been drastically reduced in preparation for what will likely be a career-ending scandal.
The show is currently filming the second-to-last episode of its fourth season.
Smollett — who is also a singer — was originally scheduled to appear in nine scenes, one of which was described by a source as a "musical number."
According to a new version of the script, however, the song has been excised entirely, and Smollett will now appear in only four scenes, all of which are "ensemble" scenes.
In other words, producers are using Smollett only as much as they need to in order to wrap up the season — and his character’s storyline.
Part of the reason for the decision was that with his role pared down, Smollett will not need to report to set for rehearsals and will work only two days this week in order to complete the episode.
Police reportedly believe that — along with his two Nigerian cohorts — Smollett planned and even practiced the phony attack.
Smollett’s case is set to go before a grand jury as early as this week.
Many expect that the actor will face felony charges for filing a false police report.
While it’s unclear if a conviction would result in jail time, it seems evident that Smollett’s career will likely recover from this debacle.