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(****)Believing he betrayed them and tainted their show forever, several cast members now want Jussie Smollett fired from (*****)Empire(******), reports TMZ.(*******)
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(*********)“We’re told many of the ‘Empire’ actors are ‘f**king furious’ and feel if FOX honchos don’t fire Jussie, he should quit on his own … because he doesn’t deserve a spot on the hit show,” TMZ reports.(**********)
(*********)“The feelings of animosity stem from the fact everyone on set had Jussie’s back after the ‘attack’ but in light of the new evidence police have laid out … many of them feel hurt and embarrassed.”(**********)
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(*********)TMZ adds that “almost everyone” is worried about how Smollett’s hate crime hoax will hurt the reputation of the show and how it “could continue to do so if he remains part of the cast.”(**********)
(*********)Smollett has already been cut from the two remaining Empire episodes left to be filmed this season.(**********)
(*********)There have also been arguments between those who still believe Smollett and those who do not. Apparently, those still in Smollett’s corner can’t seem to wrap their minds around the idea he would do something so stupid and reckless.(**********)
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(*********)According to a Thursday report, after being arrested and formally charged with the felony of filing a false report that afternoon, Smollett, who is out on bail, returned to the (*****)Empire(******) set where he apologized for all the trouble but pleaded with everyone to believe he did not fabricate a hoax.(**********)
(*********)”I’m sorry I’ve put you all through this and not answered any calls. I wanted to say I’m sorry and, you know me, I would never do this to any of you, you are my family. I swear to God, I did not do this,” he reportedly told the cast and crew.(**********)
(*********)TMZ reports that the phone call issue is a sore point and that Smollett “changed his number because certain pissed off cast members were blowing up his phone.”(**********)
(*********)These reports are in sharp contrast to the portrait of peppermint trees and chocolate rivers the establishment Hollywood media are painting. (*****)Variety(******) reported on Thursday that “Even with his mounting legal troubles, Smollett has big pockets of support within Fox and there was hope as late as Wednesday that he would be able to finish out his work on the series.”(**********)
(*********)“The tension within Fox about how to handle Smollett is heightened by the fact that the actor is well-liked among network and studio brass,” (*****)Variety(******) added. “He’s routinely described as the ‘consummate pro’ who was always ready to do press promotional appearances on behalf of the show or the network.”(**********)
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(*********)That’s a little hard to believe. Smollett might have been popular prior to his claim of being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by a couple of white Trump supporters, but ever since, the (*****)Empire(******) production has been one of chaos and distraction.(**********)
(*********)To begin with, the hit show is currently in production of its fifth season and had to rewrite the last few episodes to accommodate Smollett’s mounting legal troubles.(**********)
(*********)Worse still, last month Smollett received a threatening letter filled with white powder (that turned out to be harmless) (*****)at the studio(******). The fear, panic, and disruption this caused is impossible to calculate and the police say Smollett arranged to send the letter to himself.(**********)
(*********)And of course the show is damaged, maybe forever. Who can view (*****)Empire(******) again without this being front and center in their mind? And for stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, this was a career-defining show, a vital part of their professional legacy, and now it is permanently stained by a national scandal that has rippled into the (**********************) presidential race. Already a number of serious Democrat candidates have been embarrassed into walking back their cynical support for Smollett.(**********)
(*********)Smollett faces only career ruin, possibly a total banishment from show business. After he goes bankrupt defending himself from the legal jeopardy he faces, he will probably disappear forever.(**********)
(*********)A few years ago, the same thing happened to disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. Before being caught as a cheater and fraud, elites in Hollywood and the media embraced Armstrong as one of their own. Then, poof, banishment. He lied to them. He hustled them. He embarrassed them.(**********)
(*********)Roman Polanski proved you can rape a (*************************)-year-old girl without hurting your show business career. Smollett, however, embarrassed Hollywood and the media. He also damaged the left-wing cause, and that is something Hollywood and the media view as much worse than sodomizing a child.(**********)

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