Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty as Empire ratings drop following alleged hate crime attack
The Empire star pleaded not guilty in a Chicago courtroom to 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly staging a hate crime attack. Smollett was greeted by a handful of supporters holding signs reading “I Stand With Jussie” and “I Believe Jussie Smollett," according to CBS Chicago. After Smollett pleaded not guilty, Cook County Judge Steven Watkins granted him permission to travel to New York and California to consult with his attorney as long as he provided 48 hours' notice. Smollett's not guilty plea came the morning after Empire returned for its first episode since Smollett's alleged hate crime attack. The Wrap reports Empire's ratings were down 35% in the demo from last year's midseason premiere, while Variety said viewership fell a little over 10% from the last episode on Dec. 5.
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