Lee Daniels Opens Up About "Pain and Anger" Over Jussie Smollett Controversy
"These past couple of weeks have been a freakin' roller coaster. Me and my cast have experienced pain and anger and sadness and frustration and really don’t know how to deal with it you know?" the 'Empire' executive producer said Wednesday.
Lee Daniels on Wednesday opened up about the “pain and anger” the Empire team has felt over the Jussie Smollett controversy in a social media post.
Taking to Instagram, the creator behind Fox's Star and Empire explained that he forgot to post about both series last week because he has been dealing with the aftermath of Smollett’s alleged hate crime hoax.
"I was so in my feelings last week that I forgot to post about @empirefox and @staronfox… I guess ya’ll know why. Anyway, I’m back and I’m finally OK," he captioned his post.
In the short video, posted hours before a new episode of Empire, Daniels reflected on the last couple of weeks, describing the ordeal as a "roller coaster" with no one comprehending how to best handle the situation. "These past couple of weeks have been a freakin' roller coaster. Me and my cast have experienced pain and anger and sadness and frustration and really don’t know how to deal with it, you know?" he said.
Last month it was announced that Smollett will not appear in the final two episodes of Empire's fifth season following the actor's arrest in Chicago, where he was charged with falsifying a police report.
Chicago police say Smollett orchestrated a "publicity stunt" in which he hired two brothers to stage an assault on Jan. 29, possibly because he was "dissatisfied with his salary" on Empire. After being indicted on 16 felony counts, the actor has maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Daniels did not comment on the rumors that Smollett was dissatisfied with his pay, but sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the actor makes upwards of $125,000 per episode on the series, putting him in the second of three tiers of cast salaries.
In his video, Daniels also discussed how Smollett’s drama has diverted discussion from Empire altogether, which returned for the second half of its fifth season earlier this month. But he also wanted to make clear that the new episodes were filmed before the Jan. 29 alleged attack.
"Everything has happened, which you are seeing tonight, prior to the incident and this is not what the show is made for. The show was made to bring America together, to talk about the atrocities that are happening right now in the streets," Daniels asserted.
Daniels and the network have yet to make a decision on the future of the show, now in its fifth season.