‘Empire’ creator shares cast reaction to star’s arrest

It’s been over a week since “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty to charges he lied to police about being the victim of an alleged hate crime in January.

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Now, “Empire” co-creator Lee Daniels is revealing a bit about how he and the show’s cast are dealing with the fallout.

“Oh my god … these past couple of weeks have been a freakin’ roller coaster,” Daniels said in a brief video posted to his Instagram on Wednesday night to promote the show. “We have — me and my cast — experienced pain and anger and sadness and frustration and really don’t know how to deal with it, you know?”

Daniels goes on: “Everything has happened — what you are seeing tonight — prior to the incident. And this is not what the show is made for. The show is made to bring America together, to talk about the atrocities that are happening right now in the streets.”

Daniels was one of the first people to support Smollett after he first reported the incident, calling the young actor his “son” and telling him to stay strong. The rest of the cast followed suit.

Ratings for last week’s “Empire,” the first original episode to air since Smollett’s arrest, weren’t good. According to the The Wrap, the episode drew the show’s second-smallest audience ever.

But the show’s executive producer, Brett Mahoney, told Entertainment Weekly earlier this month that “he’s “confident” there will be another season.

In regards to Smollett being written out of the final two episodes, Mahoney said it was a “difficult decision” but one they were able to make work because of the “strong ensemble” and available stories to tell.

For now, Mahoney said he’s “trusting the process and allowing the legal process to play out.”

Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts related to his claim that he was the victim of a racially-motivated attack by two masked men in Chicago in January.

After an investigation, police declared the attack a hoax and said Smollett hired two brothers to carry it out.

Smollett pleaded not guilty to all charges March 14 and maintains his innocence.

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