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Thursday December 12th, 2019 7:08PM

The Latest: 'Empire' studio says it's weighing its options

By The Associated Press
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CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on the attack reported by Jussie Smollett (all times local):

11:15 a.m.

The studio behind the hit television show "Empire" says it is "evaluating the situation" regarding the charges against actor Jussie Smollett and is "considering our options."

20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment issued a statement Thursday saying, "We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options."

Smollett surrendered Thursday on a charge of felony disorder conduct.

Police say the actor, who is black and gay, hired the two brothers, who are also black, to stage what the actor reported was a racist and homophobic attack against him early on Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago. Johnson alleges that the reported attack was a "publicity stunt" that Smollett concocted because he was unhappy about his salary.

Police said the brothers aren't considered suspects, but they didn't elaborate.

___

11 a.m.

Chicago's police superintendent, Eddie Johnson, says investigators have phone records that show there were extensive communications between Smollett and two brothers before and after he says they helped the actor stage an attack against himself last month.

Johnson said at a news conference Thursday that the records show calls even while the brothers were in Nigeria after the staged attack early on Jan. 29.

Police say the brothers left on a trip to Nigeria right after the attack and were detained at the airport upon their return to Chicago on Feb. 13.

Johnson says the phone records "clearly indicate" that Smollett and the brothers talked to each other before and after the incident, including while the two were abroad.

Police said the brothers are not considered suspects, but they didn't elaborate.

___

10:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett insulted millions with his "racist and dangerous comments."

Chicago police said Thursday that Smollett staged a racist and homophobic attack against him last month because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted publicity. Smollett, who is black and gay, plays a gay character on the hit Fox television show. He reported Jan. 29 that he was attacked while walking home from a sandwich shop.

Smollett claimed masked men beat him, made derogatory comments and yelled "This is MAGA country" - an apparent reference to Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan.

Smollett surrendered Thursday on a charge of felony disorder conduct.

Trump tweeted Thursday to Smollett: "What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA."

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10:35 a.m.

Chicago police Superintendent says that among the evidence investigators have that "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett staged the attack against him is a $3,500 check he allegedly paid two brothers to help him.

Johnson said Thursday at a news conference that the brothers punched Smollett with gloves on during the Jan. 29 attack, but that investigators believe scratches and bruises on the actor's face were likely self-inflicted.

Smollett surrendered Thursday on a charge of felony disorder conduct.

Police say the actor, who is black and gay, hired the two brothers, who are also black, to carry out the scheme. Johnson alleges that the reported attack was a "publicity stunt" that Smollett concocted because he was unhappy about his salary.

Police said the brothers aren't considered suspects, but they didn't elaborate.

___

10:15 a.m.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett owes the city an apology.

Johnson ended a Thursday news conference about the charges against Smollett by saying justice would be for the 36-year-old actor to apologize, admit what he did and "then be man enough to offer what he should offer up in terms of all the resources that were put into this."

Smollett surrendered Thursday at central booking on a charge of felony disorder conduct.

Police say Smollett, who is black and gay, paid two brothers who are also black to help him stage a racist and homophobic attack against him on Jan. 29.

Johnson says investigators think Smollett had hoped that the fake attack would be captured by one of the city's many security cameras, but that didn't happen. He says the camera at the location where the attack happened wasn't pointed in that direction.

___

10 a.m.

Chicago investigators say they used public and private surveillance footage to track the movements of two brothers who they say "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett hired to stage an attack on him.

Detective Commander Edward Wodnicki said at a news conference Thursday that investigators were able to see the brothers flee and get into a cab and use camera footage to follow the cab to another part of the city.

He says more surveillance footage showed the brothers at O'Hare International Airport, where they boarded a flight to Nigeria. Investigators determined the brothers had a roundtrip ticket and detained them for questioning when they returned to Chicago on Feb. 13.

Police allege that Smollett paid the brothers $3,500 to help him stage the attack. Smollett surrendered Thursday on a charge of felony disorder conduct.

The actor told police he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago early on Jan. 29.

___

9:50 a.m.

The head of the Chicago Police Department says investigators know that "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett spoke to two brothers an hour before and an hour after he says they helped the actor stage last month's attack.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says Smollett "staged a hate crime" by claiming two masked men beat him, called him racist and homophobic names and looped a rope around his neck before fleeing. He says the actor dragged "Chicago's reputation through the mud in the process."

Johnson alleges that Smollett staged the attack because he was unhappy about his salary. He says Smollett paid the brothers, who are black, $3,500 to help him. Police say the brothers participated for the money and are not considered suspects.

Smollett surrendered Thursday at central booking on a charge of felony disorder conduct. His lawyers say they will vigorously fight the charge.

___

9:35 a.m.

Authorities say the investigation into the attack on "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett took a new direction when the attorney for two brothers initially viewed as suspects suggested that police question them and that the men were "victims," not offenders.

Detective Commander Edward Wodnicki said at a news conference Thursday that after questioning the brothers for nearly two days last week, they were released and investigators no longer viewed them as suspects.

Police Superintendent says Smollett paid the brothers $3,500 to stage the attack and "drag Chicago's reputation through the mud in the process."

Wodnicki says the brothers testified before a grand jury before prosecutors charged Smollett on Wednesday with felony disorder conduct for allegedly filing a false police report. He turned himself in at central booking early Thursday.

Smollett told police he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway sandwich shop at around 2 a.m on Jan. 29. The actor, who is black and gay, said they beat him, made racist and homophobic comments, poured some unknown chemical substance on him and looped a rope around his neck before fleeing.

___

9:20 a.m.

Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett "took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career."

Johnson also said at a news conference Thursday that Smollett sent a racist and homophobic threatening letter to himself at the Fox studio lot before the attack. He says Smollett was dissatisfied with his salary.

Smollett, who is accused of filing a false police report, was charged Wednesday with felony disorder conduct. He turned himself in at central booking early Thursday.

Smollett told police he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway sandwich shop at around 2 a.m on Jan. 29. The actor, who is black and gay, said they beat him, made racist and homophobic comments, poured some unknown chemical substance on him and looped a rope around his neck before fleeing.

Police say the investigation shifted after they questioned two brothers who were in the area that morning.

___

5:50 a.m.

Chicago police say "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett has turned himself in to face a charge of making a false police report when he said he was attacked in downtown Chicago by two men who hurled racist and anti-gay slurs and looped a rope around his neck.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tells The Associated Press that Smollett turned himself in early Thursday at central booking. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson plans to hold a morning news conference and Smollett is expected to appear in court later in the day.

The 36-year-old actor was charged Wednesday.

The charge could bring up to three years in prison. It could also force the actor, who's black and gay, to pay for the cost of the investigation into his report of a Jan. 29 beating.

___

12 a.m.

Less than a month ago, "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett was the seemingly sympathetic victim of a hate crime. Now he's accused of a felony.

The 36-year-old actor was charged Wednesday with making a false police report when he told authorities he was attacked last month in Chicago by two men who hurled racist, anti-gay slurs and looped a rope around his neck.

The charge could bring up to three years in prison. It could also force the actor, who is black and gay, to pay for the cost of the investigation into his report of a Jan. 29 beating.

A police spokesman says authorities are trying to negotiate Smollett's surrender.

Doubts about Smollett's account started with reports that he had not fully cooperated with police.

___

Check out the AP's complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case .

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