"We have decided to remove the role of Jamal from the final two episodes of the season.”
On Friday, the executive producers of the Fox series -- Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer -- released a new statement explaining their rationale for removing Smollett's role of Jamal from the remainder of the season. The statement comes one day after Smollett was arrested for allegedly filing a false police report in which he claimed he was the victim of a hate crime on Jan. 29.
"The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply," the statement reads. "While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out."
"We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of Jamal from the final two episodes of the season,” the statement adds.
A source tells ET that Smollett is expected to be paid for the two episodes he was pulled out of.
Following Smollett's arrest on Thursday, the actor posted $10,000 of his $100,000 bond and, two sources told ET, headed to the Empire set.
After Smollett arrived on the set of the FOX show, a source tells ET the actor addressed the cast and crew with his siblings Jake, Jocqui and Jazz standing nearby as a sign of support. Smollett made an emotional plea, reassuring his Empire family that he did not stage the attack.
The source says Smollett filmed a previously scheduled scene on Thursday evening, and says the reaction from the the cast and crew was split.
"Some people are enraged that he’s still working [on the show] and others have expressed they believe it and will continue to stand behind him," the source says. "Some have reminded others innocent until proven guilty.”
The source claims that one crew member was overheard saying, “The continuous lies are too much. Just come clean.”
Smollett has maintained that he is a victim and again denied all the allegations via his attorney on Thursday. His next hearing is set for March 14.
As ET previously reported, Smollett surrendered earlier on Thursday after being charged with felony disorderly conduct, punishable for up to three years in prison.
"Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked," Smollett's lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, told ET. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."
In a press conference held shortly after his arrest, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department Eddie T. Johnson claimed that Smollett staged his alleged attack to promote his career. Johnson alleged that the actor paid $3,500 to stage an attack because he was "dissatisfied" with his Empire salary. Johnson also alleged that Smollett concocted the threatening letter he received prior to the alleged attack that contained homophobic and racist language, and when that "didn't work," went ahead with the alleged attack.
"As far as we can tell, the scratching and bruising that you saw on his face were most likely self-inflicted," Johnson alleged. " ... Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career."
"How can an individual who has been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face?" he continued. "Bogus police reports cause real harm. They cause harm to legitimate victims who are in need of support by police and by investigators as well as the citizens in the city. I'm offended by what's happened and I'm also angry."
A source close to production tells ET that Smollett's Empire salary is significantly higher than initial reports of $65,000 an episode and that the actors all got significant raises early in the show’s life when it became a big hit. If Smollett was unhappy with his salary, it was not commonly known, the source shares, and to the source's knowledge, he did not voice any complaints about his salary on Empire.