Fox Nation is set to release the five-part docuseries Jussie Smollett: Anatomy of a Hoax on March 13.
News of the series comes as the former Empire actor has filed an appeal of a December 2021 conviction for staging an anti-gay, racist attack on himself and then lying to Chicago police about it. The Fox Nation series will feature first-time interviews with brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who were part of the elaborate ruse hatched by Smollett in 2019.
After an investigation, Chicago police concluded that the attack was staged and that Smollett had hired the Osundairo brothers to carry out the crime. A jury eventually found Smollett guilty on five counts of disorderly conduct — one count for each separate time he was charged with lying to police in the days immediately after the alleged attack.
He was acquitted on a sixth count, of lying to a detective weeks after Smollett said he was attacked. Smollett faces a 150-day jail sentence for his convictions. He was released from jail pending the appeal.
The series was announced shortly before the filing of Smollett’s appeal.
“Anatomy of a Hoax takes a deep dive into a scam that reverberated through the worlds of entertainment, pop culture and politics. We’re excited for viewers to hear the real stories behind this scandal from the Osundairo brothers for the very first time.” John Finley, Fox Nation executive vp, said in a statement about the docuseries.
Developed and produced by Lionsgate’s Pilgrim Media Group, the series was executive produced by Craig Piligian, Nicholas Caprio, Scott Eldridge, Gloria Rodriguez and Nicole Rittenmeyer, who also serves as director.
In his appeal filed on Thursday in the Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, lawyers for Smollett called for a new trial. “In the present case, instances of prosecutorial misconduct were clear and egregious,” they claim in the 102-page petition.
“Mr. Smollett’s constitutional rights to due process and to a fair trial were denied by prosecutorial misconduct including allegations that a defense witness was pressured to change his statement … and shifting the burden during closing arguments,” Smollett’s legal team argued as they look for their client to be cleared by the appeals court.
The actor lost his role on the TV drama Empire after his conviction.
Jussie Smollett Appeals Hate Crime Hoax Conviction as Fox Nation Sets Smollett Docuseries