Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty to All Charges; Now What?!?

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Jussie Smollett made a pair of returns this week.

First, the actor appeared on Empire Wednesday night for the first time since he was arrested and charged with multiple felonies.

(The Fox drama had been on hiatus since December 5 and Smollett claimed he got attacked on January 29.)

Jussie Smollett at Court

Social media blew up during the installment, with fans in near universal agreement that they couldn't really concentrate on any storyline when one of the show's leads was strongly suspected of orchestrating an assault against himself.

And then blaming in on white racist homophobes.

And lying repeatedly about it at every turn.

"Good Lord, SO much has happened since [Empire] was on the last time...I think we ALL know what that is!!!!" wrote one viewer on Twitter, while another simply added a series of emojis hinting at the Smollett-sized elephant in the room.

"When Cookie asked if Jamal forgot his last name was Lyon....that script didnt age well," another loyal fan remarked.

smollett stuff

At this point, of course, the real drama surrounding Smollett takes place off screen.

During a brief hearing before Cook County Circuit Judge Steven Watkins on Thursday morning, the controversial heard the indictment filed against him and agreed to be in court for every hearing moving forward.

Last week, a grand jury handed down a total of 16 indictments against Smollett, all stemming from the purported attack against him in Chicago about seven weeks ago.

He has been charged with disorderly conduct and making a false police report.

In court today, Smollett pleaded not guilty across the board.

Very Jussie

Smollett is accused of lying to the authorities and making up a story that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men in the early morning hours of January 29 in Chicago.

Cops have since said that Smollett concocted this tale to further his career, although it remains unclear just how he thought this would accomplish such a goal.

The two Nigerian brothers who allegedly schemed along with Smollett have reportedly spilled all their tea to the police, implicating Jussie and explaining how he paid them to pose as his attackers.

No matter how many times we write about this story, it never stops being literally incredible.

Each charge against Smollett is punishable by as little as probation and as much as three years behind bars.

He's due back in court on April 17.

Jussie Smollett Mug Shot

As noted above, there's a lot riding on this for Smollett aside from his acting career.

But Fox is yet to renew Empire for a sixth season.

In the past, with the exception of last year when a renewal announcement was made in May, the network had always given the green light for future episodes in January.

Despite earlier reports, Smollett has not technically been fired from the series, but he has been removed from the final few installments scheduled for this spring.

Executives may be waiting to see how his legal case plays out before deciding on the program's fate, but time would not be on their side if this really is the play.

Smollett could agree to a plea deal or he could take this all the way to a trial; the latter likely would not be held for several months, meaning Fox has to make some sort of decision soon.

And, let's be honest, right?

No matter what happens with Smollett legally, is there any way he can be brought back at this point?

Like, any way at all?

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