‘Empire’ Ratings Dip As Jussie Smollett Pleads ‘Not Guilty’ In Alleged Hate Crime Hoax Case
Tina Glandian, Smollett’s attorney, entered the plea in a Chicago courtroom on behalf of her client. The 36-year-old could potentially face jail time if he is convicted of the charges, stemming from an alleged hate crime hoax that prosecutors claim occurred at the end of January.
Amid the allegations, Smollett’s post as an ‘Empire’ star is at risk, as ratings tank for the show. The series returned from a winter hiatus to a 35% decrease in ratings in its core demo, according to The Wrap. This was the second worst demo-rating ever in the franchise’s history since its premiere.
In a twist of fate, Smollett’s fictional character, Jamaal, appeared on the mid-season premiere episode super emotional, giving up on love yet optimistic for the future in a new song.
According to Entertainment Tonight, one of the final scenes end with Jamaal trying to distance himself from rumors about himself and his family, telling the crowd:
“I don’t know if y’all been reading the blogs and all the foolishness, but it’s kinda been a tough week.”
A rare moment where art truly imitates life.
A couple of fans took to Twitter to share their conflicting feelings as they watch the show with the shadow of Smollett’s charges looming over the season.
Regardless of the skepticism, Jussie has maintained his innocence. Back in February, reps for the R&B crooner explained he was “angered” and “devastated” by the accusations.
“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” sdefense lawyers Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson in a statement to Deadline.
“He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”