TNT will not air a planned March 6 episode of its celeb rap-battle series Drop the Mic that featured Jussie Smollett, the Empire star who was arrested this morning and charged with felony counts for his part in faking that he was attacked last month in Chicago.
The episode features Smollett facing off against American Idol alum Clay Aiken. Drop the Mic executive producer Jensen Carp noted the episode’s postponement Thursday on Twitter:
Said a TNT spokesperson: “We are pulling the episode in the interest of not being exploitative of an incredibly sensitive situation. We are holding on airing his episode for now and we are replacing it with the Raven Simon vs Ron Funches and Joey McIntyre vs Joey Fatone episode.”
Smollett is set for a bail bond hearing today in Chicago after police arrested him this morning, saying the actor staged the January 29 assault hoax because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” and to promote his career, according to a self-described “angry” and “offended” Chicago Supt. Eddie Johnson.
Johnson said Smollett paid siblings Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo $3,500 to participate in the phony attack, with an additional $500 promised upon completion. Police are now treating the brothers as witnesses.
Fox’s Empire, meanwhile, continues filming Season 5 in Chicago. The network and studio 20th Century Fox TV, which had stood behind Smollett in the wake of the attack, said today that they “are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options” about his future on the show.
Smollett stars as Jamal Lyon on Empire, which earlier this week scrapped shooting scenes involving his character as the police investigation unfolded.