Fox says it's 'considering our options' after 'Empire' star Jussie Smollett's arrest

Posted at 2:55 PM, Feb 21, 2019

The studio and network behind Fox's "Empire" say they are considering their options, following the arrest of television actor Jussie Smollett.

"We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process," 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said in a statement to CNN on Thursday. "We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options."

The company's statement came hours after Smollett was arrested on suspicion of filing a false report .

Chicago police allege Smollett paid two men $3,500 to stage an attack on him last month.

Smollett had told police that on Jan. 29 he was attacked by two people who yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, tied a rope around his neck, and poured an unknown substance on him.

The incident prompted a flood of support for Smollett from all corners of Hollywood, including his "Empire" co-stars and producers.

The actor has denied playing a role in his attack. His attorneys promised an "aggressive defense," in a statement issued Wednesday after Cook County State's Attorney's Office approved a felony disorderly conduct charge against Smollett.

"Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked," his attorneys said.

Investigators believe Smollett orchestrated the attack, in part, "because he was dissatisfied with his salary," Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said Thursday.

Smollett has starred on Fox's "Empire" since 2015. He plays Jamal, a successful singer in the musical Lyon family. Like his character, Smollett identifies as gay.

Early on Wednesday, before official charges had been made against Smollett, Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV stood by Smollett saying he continued "to be a consummate professional on set" and assuring that "he is not being written out of the show."