Police, Fox Entertainment push back on media report that Jussie Smollett attack was staged

  • The Chicago Police Department and 20th Century Fox Television pushed back against a Thursday report from WLS-TV that said police were looking into whether actor Jussie Smollett staged an alleged attack upon himself on a Chicago street on January 29.
  • “Media reports about the ‘Empire’ incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives,” Chicago PD’s Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi said in a tweeted statement.
  • In a statement sent to INSIDER, Fox Television and Fox Entertainment denied that Smollett was being written off the show, calling it “patently ridiculous.”
  • The Chicago Police Department is speaking with two persons of interest, Officer Guglielmi tweeted.

The Chicago Police Department and 20th Century Fox Television pushed back against a Thursday report from WLS-TV Chicago that said police were looking into whether actor Jussie Smollett staged an attack upon himself while he was walking along a street late at night in Chicago on January 29.

“Media reports about the ‘Empire’ incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives,” CPD’s Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi said in a tweeted statement. “Supt Eddie Johnson has contacted @ABC7Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate.”

Smollett, an openly gay actor and musician, plays Jamal Joseph Lyon on the television show “Empire.” In its report, WLS-TV claimed that police were investigating whether or not the attack was staged because the actor was being written off the television show.

In a statement sent to INSIDER, Fox Television and Fox Entertainment denied that Smollett was being written off the show, calling it “patently ridiculous.”

“He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him,” the statement continued.

A spokesperson also said that Smollett answered follow-up questions from police on Thursday, countering the WLS-TV report.

Smollett alleged that around 2 a.m. local time, when he was heading to Subway for a sandwich, two white men poured an unknown chemical on him, beat him up, tied a rope around his neck, and yelled racist and homophobic epithets.

The Chicago Police Department is speaking with two persons of interest, Officer Guglielmi tweeted on Thursday.

“The people of interest are alleged to be in the area where a crime was reported,” he said. “They are not considered suspects at this time as they are currently being questioned by detectives. We remain in communication with the alleged victim.”

Guglielmi told CBS News that the people of interest were identified by “advance technology, interviews with the victim and witnesses and transportation records,” and he told the Associated Press that the people being questioned are those who appeared in surveillance photos released last month. Nobody has been charged in the case.

INSIDER contacted CPD for more information, and we will update as necessary.

Smollett spoke to “Good Morning America” on Thursday, and he addressed those who have cast doubt on the veracity of his allegations.

“I think people need to hear the truth,” he told “GMA.” “‘Cause everybody has their own idea. Some are healing and some are hurtful, but I just want young people, young members of the LGBTQ community – young, black children – to know how strong that they are.”

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.