• FS1
    9:00 PM PST

    9:30 PM PST

Jussie Smollett Abel Could've Smashed Him Up ... And Boxing Skills Prove It

3/16/2019 12:50 AM PDT

The Osundairo brothers told Chicago police if they really wanted to hurt Jussie Smollett, they could've killed him ... and here's proof.  

We've obtained video of Abel Osundairo throwing haymakers Thursday night in Chicago, and you can tell the "Empire" extra is a beast in the ring. Take solace in the fact you weren't his opponent.

Remember, Abel's lawyer says Jussie told the brothers he wanted Abel to "attack" him, but not rough him up too badly. Judging by his boxing skills, Abel suppressed his true strength during the "attack." 

Abel and Jussie are on two totally different paths ... hours after Jussie strutted into a Cook County courthouse to enter a not guilty plea in his 16-count felony indictment, Abel advanced in the Chicago Golden Gloves amateur boxing tourney, with a first-round TKO in his quarterfinal match.

Dude's a beast, he's boxing in the 178-pound weight class. No wonder Jussie cut the brothers a check for a training program.

Where can we sign up?!?

Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty On 16-Count Indictment

3/14/2019 8:13 AM PDT
Breaking News

8:11 AM PT -- Jussie just pled not guilty to the 16-count indictment against him. He was advised he needs to be at every court date going forward, and is set to be back in court in mid-April.

In the meantime, he'll be allowed to travel to L.A. and NY for meetings with his lawyers. He's gotta notify the court 48 hours in advance before going to either location, and also needs to check back in within 24 hours when he returns to Chicago.

Jussie Smollett just showed up to court with the same confidence he had the other day -- the big difference now ... this appearance actually matters, 'cause he's being arraigned.

The "Empire" star once again strutted his way into a Cook County courthouse Thursday with his back straight and his head held high ... just like he did on Tuesday when he showed up for a procedural hearing he technically didn't need to attend. 

He's expected to enter a plea one way or another at his arraignment. 

As we reported ... a grand jury handed down the whopping 16-count indictment last week nearly two weeks after Jussie was arrested and booked for allegedly filing a false police report. Jussie's attorney, Mark Geragos, called the indictment "overkill."

Regardless of how Jussie pleads ... he may very well have more than his own fate in his hands. Folks working on "Empire" feel like the future of the show will very much be tied to how things shake out for him in court, and could possibly torpedo the series at large.

Originally Published -- 7:26 AM PT

Jussie Smollett Struts into Court ... I'm with Geragos!!!

3/12/2019 12:32 PM PDT
Breaking News

12:32 PM PT -- The judge sided with Geragos and will allow cameras in the courtroom Thursday.

Jussie Smollett strutted confidently into a Cook County Courthouse for a hearing he did NOT have to attend.

Jussie, who's been laying low since he was arrested for filing a false police report, was rocking shades, gloves and a trench coat as he arrived Tuesday. The hearing is really for his attorney, Mark Geragos, to file the paperwork so he can rep Jussie in Illinois -- and also to determine if cameras will be allowed in court for the case.

He wasn't required to be there, but our sources say Smollett chose to attend because he intends to be an active participant in his defense ... and not just an observer. We're also told he's done hiding.

This is the first time we've seen him after the grand jury handed up the 16 count indictment last week.

After the indictment, Geragos told us, "The fact of an indictment was not unexpected. We knew that there is no way they would expose their evidence to a public airing and subject their witnesses to cross-examination. What is unexpected, however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts against Jussie."

Originally Published -- 9:26 AM PT

Jussie Smollett Might Have 'Empire' Fate Hanging High in the Balance

3/11/2019 5:24 PM PDT
Exclusive Details

Jussie Smollett's case could cost him way more than just his gig on "Empire" ... many on the show fear his situation could bring the whole show down in the process.

Production sources tell TMZ ... anxiety is high among the "Empire" cast and crew, because Fox has yet to renew the show for a sixth season. We're told people who've been working on the show for years are griping they should've heard the news one way or another by now, and expected to get word on the fate of the show around 2 weeks ago. 

For the record ... Fox has typically renewed the show in January ... 5 months ahead of the season finale. The exception ... this past season. Fox waited until a few weeks before the season 4 finale was set to air ... in May. 

We're told folks involved in the production feel like Jussie and his case will be a big factor in how things shake out.

As for how Jussie's character is being handled on the show now ... Lee Daniels and co. have already announced Jamal is being removed from the final two episodes of season 5, which is set to return from a hiatus on Wednesday night.  

Our sources say Jussie's character will be "out of the country."  

Here's the kicker ... our production sources tell us even if Fox does renew the show, higher-ups have expressed serious reservations about Jussie returning ... as have many folks on the cast and crew ... even some who have publicly supported him.

Jussie Smollett Brothers Confirm Check for Training ... Police Statement Called into Question

3/11/2019 10:04 AM PDT

5:41 PM PT -- The brothers' attorney is clarifying her statement from GMA ... she says, "to say the check for $3,500 was just for the incident is not a full representation of what transpired. My clients had an agreement to provide personal training services to Mr. Smollett. To say the check was also intended for a favor beyond the training is an accurate statement."

Jussie Smollett wrote that $3,500 check to the Osundairo brothers to pay for a training program -- something the brothers themselves now confirm, which essentially negates one of the strongest statements Chicago PD made about the case.

Ola and Abel Osundairo's attorney, Gloria Schmidt, spoke out on their behalf Monday on 'GMA,' confirming what TMZ first reported ... that the check was compensation for a training and nutrition program designed to get Jussie in shape for a music video shoot.

You'll recall ... during police Superintendent Eddie Johnson's news conference he said, point blank, "Smollet paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago's reputation through the mud in the process."

So, you gotta wonder ... if the police got that detail wrong, what else did they get wrong? You can bet Smollett's attorney, Mark Geragos, will raise that issue.

Remember, this also comes on the heels of a grand jury handing up a 16-count indictment against Jussie -- where it appears they nailed the actor for EACH allegedly false statement he made during 2 police interviews. The grand jury arrived at that remarkable number -- SIXTEEN -- by following the lead of prosecutors who presented the case.

So, did law enforcement have it out for Smollett? If the case gets to trial, there's little doubt Geragos will grill the police Superintendent like a cheeseburger.

Jussie Smollett A Job Offers Story ... In 3 Acts

3/9/2019 1:00 AM PST

Jussie Smollett's career is just like an awesome script ... complete with a major plot twist, then a climax and now the aftermath -- and it ain't pretty.

Sources familiar with Jussie's current situation tell TMZ ... he was living a pretty good Hollywood life before claiming he was viciously attacked in Chicago. He was getting entertainment biz offers every other week, if not weekly.

We're told Smollett's star actually skyrocketed right after the alleged attack was initially reported. Our sources say he was getting hit up nonstop for movies, TV gigs, commercials and, of course, interviews and appearances.

When his story went off the rails and he was arrested and charged with a felony for filing a false police report ... the well ran dry. We're told Smollett's getting zero calls for new work, and is being treated like a pariah.

Makes sense. Hollywood's waiting to see how his case plays out, but the 16-count indictment the grand jury handed up Friday can't help.  

As we reported ... "Empire" also removed Jussie's character from the final 2 episodes of the season in order to keep peace on the set ... where some of his co-stars are butting heads over whether to support him

On the bright side -- if there is one -- Chicago PD launched an internal investigation out of concerns the force was leaking information, and some of the claims by the Police Superintendent have been called into question.

That might help him in court, but it won't do jack to help him land any roles.

'Wolf of Wall Street' 4 Yrs. Sounds Right for Paul Manafort ... He's Old as Dirt!!!

3/9/2019 7:24 AM PST

Trump campaign manager-turned federal con Paul Manafort's incredibly light prison sentence isn't as outrageous as many think ... at least according to Jordan Belfort, who knows plenty about prison.

We got the real-life "Wolf of Wall Street" Friday at LAX and he weighed in on a couple of big crime and punishment stories. Jordan, who himself was sentenced to almost 4 years, says it's pretty clear Manafort caught a break because he's an old man.

As Belfort put it ... 3 years and 11 months makes sense because "how many years does he have left?"

Manafort is 69, BTW ... and could get more years tacked on next week when he's sentenced in his conspiracy case.

The 'Wolf' also has an opinion on Jussie Smollett, who just got indicted for a staggering 16 counts in Chicago. He says what the "Empire" star allegedly did is awful, but check out what kinda sentenced he'd give him.

Disorder in the court ... Judge Belfort has ruled!

Jussie Smollett 16 Count Indictment is 'Overkill' Says Attorney Mark Geragos

3/8/2019 5:30 PM PST
Exclusive Details

5:30 PM PT -- Jussie's attorney, Mark Geragos, just released a scathing response to the indictment, telling us, "The fact of an indictment was not unexpected. We knew that there is no way they would expose their evidence to a public airing and subject their witnesses to cross-examination. What is unexpected, however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts against Jussie."

Geragos continues, "This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie's privacy in tampering with his medical records. Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption." 

2:45 PM PT -- We've now read the indictment, and it appears the grand jury hit Jussie with one count for EACH allegedly false statement he made during the 2 interviews with cops.

Jussie Smollett just got slammed by a Cook County grand jury, which has returned a 16-count felony indictment against him for filing a false police report. 

Smollett was originally charged by the State Attorney's Office with a felony of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. The new indictments obviously take the case to another level.

As for why there are so many counts ... the grand jury reportedly handed up 2 sets of charges -- one for Smollett's initial report to Chicago PD, and the other charges are for Jussie's second interview with cops.

We're told Ola and Abel Osundairo told grand jurors Jussie hired them to stage the so-called "attack." The brothers were caught on camera buying a bunch of supplies before the incident ... including ski masks, gloves, bandanas, sunglasses and red hats.

Chicago PD has come out strong against Jussie ... making it clear they had a lot of issues with his version of events -- including the fact he took them to the scene and immediately pointed to a camera which he said captured the incident. Turns out, the camera was pointed in the wrong direction.

Abel and Ola told police they drove with Jussie in the days prior to the incident scouting a location and even rehearsed the "attack."  

As for the hate mail sent to Jussie at Fox Studios in Chicago ... police say they believe the "Empire" star is behind that too. However, we know the FBI hadn't confirmed that when Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson blasted Jussie in his news conference.

We also know the brothers told police they had nothing to do with the letter, and only saw it in a photo on Jussie's phone.

Originally published -- 2:11 PM PT

Jussie Smollett Undercover in Chicago ... Grabs Dinner with Fam

3/1/2019 1:00 PM PST

Jussie Smollett's taking extreme measures to avoid being seen, but everybody's gotta eat ... so we caught a glimpse of him walking into a Chicago restaurant.

We're told Jussie arrived at Eddie V's Prime Seafood Thursday night around 9:30 in a black SUV -- very similar to the one he took from jail last week, along with some of his siblings and security.

The "Empire" star kept his head down under the hood of a large winter coat as he hustled in, and stayed about an hour.

Our sources say Jussie's been hounded by media and hasn't been able to stay at his own apartment since the mob scene last week when he was released, so he's been hunkering down at a swanky hotel.

Clearly, he's trying his best to keep a low profile.

As we reported ... Jussie's been charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report in what Chicago PD's Superintendent called a "publicity stunt."

Smollett maintains he was attacked and denies orchestrating a hoax.

'LHHH' Star Milan Christopher Jussie Smollett's a Disgrace to Gay Black Men

3/1/2019 12:30 AM PST

Jussie Smollett being attacked in a hate crime sounded fishy and far-fetched from the jump -- according to a guy who has no love for the "Empire" actor -- Milan Christopher

The ex-"Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood" star and model tells TMZ ... he believes the "Empire" star's alleged attack was an elaborate plot to grow his brand, and it's actually working -- at least on social media.

Milan -- who is gay -- says he smelled a rat from the get-go, especially because Jussie's story changed so much ... and every gay black man will now feel the consequences.

Milan is also incredulous that Jussie referred to himself as "the gay Tupac."

Christopher has obvious issues with Jussie, whom he called out earlier this week on Instagram, saying ... "let me tell y'all a little story about an evil jealous black gay man I once met."

He insinuated Jussie tried to torpedo his career and block him from scoring a role on "Empire." Milan said, "This insecure jealous queen did everything in their power to keep me from expanding my brand and having a new platform that would empower my reach & expand my 'Empire.'"

Milan later deleted the post, but judging from the video ... there's still some bad blood.

Jussie Smollett 'Empire' Execs Don't Believe 'Attack' Staged Over Salary Issues

2/26/2019 12:50 AM PST

If "Empire" money was Jussie Smollett's motivation to allegedly stage an attack, he certainly never showed his cards to the people who could actually make it happen. 

"Empire" production sources tell TMZ ... none of the brass -- producers or EPs -- heard even a whisper from Jussie grousing he was underpaid. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Jussie staged the "attack" to raise his profile and get more per episode.

Our sources say, if Jussie was upset about his salary, he kept it to himself. He was in the middle of a long-term contract and the executives, who are in a position to bust the deal or sweeten the pot, say neither Jussie nor his reps ever asked.

Jussie was pulling in a reported $125,000 per episode. We're told that's on par with actor Bryshere Y. Gray, who plays his brother, Hakeem. Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard reportedly make $250,000 an episode.

We're told Jussie's main focus recently was the release of new music. He was upset his first album didn't do well and was stressed out over the debuts of his new songs and music videos. 

Terrence Howard Meltdown On 'Empire' Set ... Confronted Jussie

2/25/2019 12:40 AM PST

Terrence Howard had a complete meltdown on the set of "Empire" after Jussie Smollett was arrested for allegedly staging his "attack."

Sources on the "Empire" set tell TMZ ... Thursday was a complete disaster on set after Jussie turned himself into Chicago Police. Terrence was so upset he refused to come out of his trailer for most of the day.  

A source close to Terrence tell us ... the actor didn't believe Jussie's account from the get-go, he felt the story never added up. We're told Terrence grilled Jussie periodically as holes began to emerge. 

Tensions between Terrence and Jussie boiled over after the 2 Nigerian-American brothers who allegedly helped Jussie stage the attack, Abel and Ola Osundario, were detained by police ... we're told Terrence confronted Jussie once again, screaming at him to come clean. 

Further illustrating his disdain for Jussie ... we're told Terrence was nowhere to be found Thursday night when Jussie addressed the cast and crew.

Terrence was not alone in his feelings ... we're told many others on the cast and crew felt Jussie was lying and ultimately that's why producers decided to remove Jussie from the set for the final 2 episodes ... it was just too disruptive.

Interestingly enough, Terrence posted a video Saturday that was seemingly in support of Jussie. The clip shows Jussie playing with Terrence's son ... and a caption that read, "All your lil homies got you... We love the hell outta you." 

Nevertheless, it doesn't take away from what we know happened on Thursday.

Jussie Smollett Did NOT Pay Brother $3,500 for 'Attack'

2/23/2019 9:00 AM PST

The Chicago PD claims Jussie Smollett paid Ola and Abel Osundairo $3,500 to fake an attack, but sources connected to the case tell TMZ that's just not the case.

Our sources say the brothers made a deal with Jussie to train him for 5 weeks so he could get in shape for an upcoming music video. Jussie had said to Ola that he wanted abs like his. Both Abel and Ola agreed to train Jussie, and also give him a 5-week nutrition plan.

Our sources say Jussie told the brothers he would pay them for their services, but no specific amount was discussed.

A few days before the "attack," Jussie wrote the brothers a check for $3,500. The memo line read, "5 weeks training nutrition plan."

Our sources say Ola and Abel told the grand jury they were paid for the 5-week program and not for the "attack." One source connected with the brothers did say Ola and Abel felt the amount was "a little high" but no one ever specifically said anything about any of the money being part of a scheme. 

We've learned the brothers also told the grand jury that they had nothing to do with the threatening letter mailed to Jussie Smollett 8 days before the "attack."

Around the Web