Lee Daniels' "Empire" and "Star" made their midseason debut two weeks ago, and the former is struggling amidst recent controversy with star Jussie Smollet.
According to Variety the March 20 episode entitled "In Loving Virtue" received the lowest ratings in the show's history. Within the show's target demo of 18-49, the show scored a 1.1 rating with 3.9 million views. The previous series low was "The Depth of Grief" episode that aired on Halloween night 2018 with 4.2 million viewers (a 1.2 rating).
As we previously reported, Daniels spoke about the Smollett incident last week (without mentioning Jussie by name) in an Instagram video. "Me and my cast have experienced pain, anger, sadness and frustration," he said. "And [we] really don't know how to deal with it, ya know?"
So far, the show hasn't been renewed for season 6. However, rumors have circulated that Daniels and the show's writers are either considering recasting Smollett's character, Jamal Lyons, or writing him off if they get picked up for a new season.
Page Six has reported that the cast and crew are divided about supporting Smollett. Allegedly when a card sending Smollett well wishes was passed around the set, several of crew members including the hair and makeup team refused to sign it because they were "disgusted."
His "Empire" co-star Serayah recently spoke with "Entertainment Tonight" about Smollett, calling the incident a "sensitive issue."
"I wish the best of luck to him and I'm sending prayers his way," she said.
Meanwhile, Chicago's police union believes that Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx is interfering with the Smollett investigation.
According to Chicago's ABC 7, the Fraternal Order of Police sent a letter last week to the Department of Justice requesting an investigation against Foxx after she allegedly tried to convince Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to turn Smollett's case over to the FBI. According to the letter, Foxx requested the FBI probe after a former aide for Michelle Obama, Tina Tchen, contacted her stating that Smollett's family had "concerns."
Kevin Graham, president of the FOP, believed that Foxx should've removed herself from the investigation and appoint a special prosecutor to complete the probe.
Smollett was eventually charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report in what his lawyer calls "prosecutorial overkill" and "redundant and vindictive."
Smollett is scheduled to appear in court in a few weeks after a permanent judge is assigned to the case.