- Ratings for Fox’s “Empire” dropped dramatically when the show returned from a hiatus last week. It was the first new episode to air following actor Jussie Smollett’s arrest.
- The episode was viewed by 4 million people, according to Nielsen. That’s down 13% from the last episode in December, and 35% from the comparable premiere last year.
- Wednesday’s new episode hit a series low with fewer than 4 million viewers.
- Chicago police said Smollett staged an assault as a publicity stunt. He turned himself in last month.
Audiences don’t seem too excited for “Empire” following the Jussie Smollett scandal.
Wednesday’s new episode hit a series low with fewer than 4 million viewers, according to Nielsen. The previous lowest-rated “Empire” episode aired on Halloween 2018 and had 4.2 million viewers, according to Variety.
The show’s first new episode to air after Smollett’s arrest also dropped significantly in ratings last week. The Fox series returned after a winter hiatus a week ago to 4.412 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
That was a drop from the last episode in December before the hiatus, which reeled in 5.043 million viewers (down 13%), but a big drop from last year’s comparable premiere, which had 6.2 million viewers (down 35%), according to The Wrap.
Smollett, who has a supporting role on the show as Jamal Lyon, claimed earlier this year that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic assault. But Chicago police said that Smollett staged the attack as a publicity stunt because he was unhappy with his “Empire” salary. Smollett turned himself in to police last month.
Smollett was recently making as much as $125,000, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The show’s producers said in a statement following his arrest that Smollett will be written out of the show.
“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,” they said. “While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”
Smollett’s character on last week’s episode ended his engagement because his fiancé had problems with his family’s illegal activities. At one point, he says, “I don’t know if y’all been reading the blogs and all the foolishness, but it’s kinda been a tough week.”