Empire star Jussie Smollett has pleaded not guilty to 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report.
Appearing in a Chicago court, he remained defiant in the face of ongoing media coverage.
Chicago police say Smollett staged a racist, homophobic attack on himself. Smollett said he was attacked by two white men in ski masks. The 36 year old actor said the men told him “this is MAGA (Make America Great Again) country,” tied a rope around his neck, and poured bleach on him.
US police say the attack was a hoax.
Meanwhile Empire returned to screens in the US overnight, averaging 4.4 million viewers. Variety notes that is down a little over 10% compared to the midseason finale in December.
Smollett has been written out of the last two episodes in the current block while producers consider further moves for the next season.
His next court date is set for April 17.