But Fox executives in announcing the 2019-20 season say that Jussie Smollett's future in the show is unclear. Already a lean operation-unlike the Big Three legacy broadcasters, Fox doesn't program the 10 p.m. time slot-the introduction of a Friday night WWE wrestling block leaves room on the schedule for just three new fall shows.
For its final season, the show will return to its original Tuesday airdate, in direct competition with NBC juggernaut This Is Us.
During the fifth season, Smollett made worldwide headlines after claiming that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack. Despite ending several shows led by or prominently featuring black actors, Collier said diversity was an ongoing effort at Fox. Before Jussie's controversy, Empire was going strong, but it's clear the show will no longer go on, most likely due to his reported behavior. He maintained his innocence and the 16 charges against him were ultimately dropped.
"If you look across our slate in terms of scripted and unscripted and sports, we really are, I think, doing a good job, but the job never stops", he said.
"Empire" was a boon for Fox in its early seasons, with unprecedented ratings growth that prompted (often tone-deaf) discussions about the value of diverse programming.
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Actors Grace Gealey, Bryshere "Yazz" Gray, Jussie Smollett and Trai Byers appear onstage at the Television Academy event for Fox Tv's "Empire" - A Performance Under The Stars at The Grove on May 28, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
"We are trying to go out guns a-blazing". Fox confirmed the series will end after Season 6 at the Fox Upfronts on May 13, 2019.
When pressed as to whether Smollett's legal issues contributed in any way to the decision to cap "Empire" after the next 20 episodes, Collier deflected the question, saying, "six years is a remarkable run". On the other hand, it also sets up an interesting challenge for attention that maybe only Smollett's return can satisfy.
At the time of the renewal announcement, there were "no plans" for the actor to return as Jamal Lyon, though Smollett's contract had been extended to keep the option open.