(NEW YORK) — It’s been a week since Empire actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty to charges that he lied to police about being the victim of an alleged hate crime in January. Now Empire co-creator Lee Daniels is revealing a bit about how he and show’s cast are dealing with the fallout.
“Oh my god…these past couple of weeks have been a freakin’ roller coaster, Daniels says in a brief video posted to his Instagram Wednesday. “We have — me and my cast — experienced pain and anger and sadness and frustration and really don’t know how to deal with it, you know?”
Daniels goes on: “[E]verything has happened — what you are seeing tonight — prior to the incident,” apparently meaning Wednesday night’s scheduled Empire episode was produced prior to the alleged attack on Smollett.
“And this is not what the show is made for,” Daniels insists. “The show is made to bring America together, to talk about the atrocities that are happening right now in the streets.”
Daniels then concludes the video by urging viewers to watch Empire Wednesday night on Fox, followed by Star, which he also co-created.
Empire can use the help. It could be coincidence, but ratings for last week’s first original episode to air since Smollett’s arrest weren’t good. According to the The Wrap, the episode drew the show’s second-smallest audience ever.
Smollett was indicted March 8 on 16 felony counts related to his claim that he was the victim of a racially-motivated attack January 22 in Chicago. After an investigation, police declared the attack to be a hoax and said Smollett hired two brothers to carry it out. Smollett pleaded not guilty to all charges March 14 and maintains his innocence.
Empire airs Wednesday nights at 8:00 ET on Fox.
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