The Empire production schedule is still being worked out after the Fox drama was temporarily shut down due to the extreme weather in Chicago on Wednesday, ET has learned.
Production schedules on Empire were shifted around Tuesday due to Jussie Smollett suffering a homophobic and racist attack Tuesday morning. Production was then closed on Wednesday due to the weather, and ET has now learned that schedules are still in the works for the next few days. Theoretically, Empire will resume production on Thursday pending weather conditions improving.
Two sources tell ET that Smollett received a threatening letter to the set of Empire more than a week ago, which was obtained by ThatGrapeJuice.Net. The note threatens him and contains a homophobic slur. ET has now learned that while Fox did amp up security on the show following the letter, Smollett turned down around the clock security recently because he felt it was intrusive.
Following Smollett’s attack, ET has also learned that counselors will be available to members of the Empire production indefinitely. Previously, ET reported that there was an emotional meeting held Tuesday morning to inform production of what happened to Smollett, and that the 35-year-old actor and the rest of the Empire cast will have armed security as production of the show continues.
Smollett’s Empire co-star, Terrence Howard — who plays his dad on the show — talked to Good Morning America on Wednesday and shared how the cast reacted to the horrific attack.
“Jaws dropped to the ground, and then when we learned that there had been letters that had been sent to Fox as threats about the potential of something like this, then we became much more frightened,” Howard said.
“I heard he’s getting better,” he added of Smollett’s current condition. “He’s angry, but I know Jussie. Jussie’s anger will dissipate, and he will forgive these people for what they did. But he won’t, and we cannot, forget their actions. They have to be forgiven because it was done out of ignorance.”
A source previously told ET that the Empire star was walking in Chicago on Tuesday morning when two men started yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him, before repeatedly hitting him. According to the source, the men then poured a substance on him believed to be bleach and one of the attackers put a rope around his neck.
A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department tells ET that Smollett still had the rope around his neck when he made contact with officers at 2:42 a.m. on Tuesday. The spokesperson says that Smollett told detectives in a follow-up interview late Tuesday afternoon that his two attackers yelled, “MAGA country” to him during the attack.
The police spokesperson says the department is currently “utilizing resources to investigate [this case] thoroughly.” According to authorities, detectives continue to look at city and privately owned surveillance footage that was recorded in the area where the attack happened.
For more on the ongoing investigation, watch the video below: