AceShowbiz - Jussie Smollett's motive to stage the attack on him is allegedly revealed. A source tells CBS 2 that the 36-year-old singer/actor paid the two men to attack him in Streeterville, Chicago on January 29 to get a "bigger reaction" after a racist letter sent to Cinespace Studios, where "Empire" was filmed, didn't get enough attention. "When the letter didn't get enough attention, he concocted the staged attack," the source claims.
The threatening letter containing white powder addressed to the studio was received on January 22. A HAZMAT unit was called into the building, but it's later determined that the powder was just aspirin, nothing harmful.
It was previously also reported that Smollett orchestrated the attack because his character Jamal Lyon was getting killed off on the show, but FOX denied that Smollett would be written off the show. "The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of 'Empire' is patently ridiculous," the network and studio said in a joint statement. "He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him."
Meanwhile, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who were reportedly paid by Smollett to stage the attack, set things straight about themselves. "We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens," they say in a joint statement. Their attorney Gloria Schmidt also say, "In due course all the facts will reveal themselves, and at the end of the day, my clients are honest and credible."
Reports suggested that Smollett paid the Nigerian brothers, who appeared as extras on "Empire", $3,500 before leaving for Nigeria and were promised an additional $500 upon their return for staging the attack. They reportedly rehearsed the attack days before it happened.
Rumor has it they are now cooperating with detectives after police threatened them with battery and hate crimes. They are allegedly staying in an undisclosed location to make sure that Smollett does not contact the brothers.
Chicago police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement on Sunday, "We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation. We've reached out to the Empire cast member's attorney to request a follow-up interview." He did not mention in which direction the case has shifted.
Smollett's representative Anne Kavanagh, however, has denied that the actor planned to meet with Chicago police on Monday, February 18 for questioning regarding allegations he staged the attack. The rep stated, "There are no plans for Jussie Smollett to meet with Chicago police today. Any news reports suggesting otherwise are inaccurate. Smollett's attorneys will keep an active dialogue going with Chicago police on his behalf. We have no further comment today."
In related news, Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris, who previously jumped in to support Smollett and said the actor was the victim of "an attempted modern day lynching," was caught off guard when asked about her opinion on the latest development of the case. "Which tweet? What tweet?" she asked the reporter.
.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2019
This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.
When the report specified the tweet in question, she reportedly looked around for a campaign staffer before saying, "OK, so, I will say this about that case. I think that the facts are still unfolding, and, um, I'm very, um, concerned about obviously, the initial, um, allegation that he made about what might have happened."
"And it's something we should all take seriously whenever anyone, um, alleges that kind of behavior, but there should be an investigation," she added. "And I think that once the investigation has concluded then we can all comment, but I'm not going to comment until I know the outcome of the investigation."