'Empire' creator shares cast reaction to star's arrest

EMPIRE cast member Jussie Smollett performs live during the FOX 2016 PROGRAMMING PRESENTATION announcing FOX's new primetime schedule on Monday May 16 at The Beacon Theatre in New York

EMPIRE cast member Jussie Smollett performs live during the FOX 2016 PROGRAMMING PRESENTATION announcing FOX's new primetime schedule on Monday May 16 at The Beacon Theatre in New York

Last week's midseason premiere also struggled, with a 1.3 rating and 4.4 million viewers, which means the show dipped by 11% in the ratings and 10% in total viewership since last week.

The hit drama series' previous ratings low was its Halloween episode in 2018, which had a 1.2 rating and 4.2 million viewers.

Reports of Empire's ratings slide came after the drama's co-creator and executive producer Lee Daniels said Wednesday evening the weeks since cast member Smollett was arrested and charged with fabricating a racist and homophobic attack have been "a freakin' rollercoaster". But he still appeared in March 13 and March 20 episodes. "To talk about the atrocities that are happening right now in the streets".

In an Instagram video that doesn't refer to Smollett by name, Daniels says since "the incident" he and his cast have "experienced pain and anger and sadness and frustration and really don't know how to deal with it".

"This is not what the show was made for".

"This is not what the show is made for", he said.

"The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us".

'Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply, ' the statement began. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out.

Even as the Empire brass supports Smollett as he prepares a defense against charges that he falsified details of an alleged racist and homophobic attack against him, the showrunners still chose to remove him from the final Season 5 episodes of the Fox series.

The actor and musician claimed that he was the victim of an assault in the early morning hours of January 29 in Chicago, stating two men hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, beat him, poured bleach on him, and placed a rope around his neck. Chicago police later revealed they had evidence pointing to the Hollywood star lying about the attack, accusing him of paying his "attackers", and setting the entire thing up for more attention and a bigger salary. The actor was charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct.

The alleged attack happened on 29 January.