Awaiting signs of a re-emerging acting and music career, which was thriving before he was charged with perpetrating a hoax as the victim of a homophobic attack on Jan. 29 in Chicago, “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been keeping a low profile.
No longer a presence in Chicago, Smollett is living in Los Angeles near his family.
“It’s been a tough time, but he’s doing pretty well,“ Sneed was told Friday by a Smollett spokesperson, who emphasized the 16 charges of misconduct filed against Smollett stemming from the incident have since been dropped.
“He is focusing on his work here in L.A.,” the spokesperson added. “But he understands many people still have doubts. But he hopes once all the information comes out, he will be vindicated in the minds of the public.”
The case is now being investigated by the Cook County Office of the Independent Inspector General, which last week launched a probe of the Smollett case.
On Friday, Smollett’s attorneys filed a motion opposing the appointment of a special prosecutor in the case, saying it would duplicate the efforts of the independent inspector general. The city recently sued Smollett for his refusal to pay $130,000 in police overtime as a result of the hoax probe.
Smollett, who is gay — and plays a gay character on the “Empire” TV series which is filmed in Chicago — is now looking forward to Wednesday’s episode, the last one he filmed since his “attack” — and the one he hopes makes TV history as well as a boon to his once thriving career.
It was the last episode he filmed before being charged with being part of an attack hoax allegedly involving two brothers — one of whom was Smollett’s trainer.
Smollett is “very proud of the wedding episode this week and the history it will make as the first time two African American men have been married on television,” the spokesperson said.
“This was an emotional time for him because he had lobbied for this wedding to happen for a long time,” said the spokesperson.
The episode is titled “Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom.”
The spokesperson says the episode was filmed after the alleged attack and before Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct as a result of the incident.
Still awaiting word on his future on “Empire,” where he not only played a leading role and was among a permanent list of the show’s directors, Smollett still holds the option rights to the authorized autobiography of his idol, dancer Alvin Ailey. His spokesperson also tells Sneed he is still in the process of developing two films.
The career question?
Is an ender in the works?
Sneed is told a mysterious car crash scene for an “Empire” episode, which was filmed in Paw Paw Woods on Feb. 27 — and following the PR nightmare after the Smollett attack hoax imbroglio — could be a signal ending Smollett’s career on the series.
• Translation: “Smollett was not there when they filmed the car crash scene right after Smollett was charged,” a top source told Sneed.
“They requested sheriff’s police support. They didn’t stay long, but they did film a crash scene.”
Could the car crash be the scene where Smollett’s character disappears?
“It just seemed beyond the pale this request would come on the heels of Smollett being charged,” a spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office told Sneed earlier.
The Coppock punch . . .
Sportscaster Chet Coppock, who died Wednesday, once lost a big bet with Sneed.
On April 29, 1987, Coppock made good on a bet to push a peanut across the Michigan Avenue Bridge with his nose if Sneed’s prediction came true the Bears wanted to draft former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh!
• The upshot: While prodding the roasted nut across the bridge with his snout, Coppock messaged Sneed: “Ya got me, kid. Congrats on the KO punch. Love, kisses and the T formation.”
Chance’s dance . . .
Here’s the dish: West Chatham native Chance the Rapper hit TAO Nightclub after midnight last Saturday with his newly pregnant missus, Kirsten Corley, to celebrate his 26th birthday.
Here’s the lowdown on what went down.
Not much in the over-the-top celeb depot.
Just a down home b-day bash with 30 close pals; a Nintendo cake; a surprise set by the rapper’s good buddy DJ Oreo; and a happy birthday wish from Bears superstar Khalil Mack, who was sitting nearby.
Sneedlings . . .
Condolences to the family of retired U.S. Attorney Doug Roller, who passed away recently. Best wishes to his wife, Jennifer. . . . Saturday’s birthdays: Miranda Kerr, 36; Shemar Moore, 49; and Tan France, 36. . . . Sunday’s birthdays: Queen Elizabeth II, 93; Tony Romo, 39; and Iggy Pop, 72.