LOS ANGELES -- "Empire" co-creator and executive producer Lee Daniels says the weeks since cast member Jussie Smollett was arrested and charged with fabricating a racist and homophobic attack have been "a freakin' rollercoaster."
In an Instagram video that doesn't refer to Smollett by name, Daniels says since "the incident" he and his cast have "experienced pain and anger and sadness and frustration and really don't know how to deal with it."
Daniels had been among the first to voice his support for Smollett after he made the report in January.
Smollett faces 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report. The TV actor claimed he was the victim of a vicious hate crime in the Streeterville neighborhood on Jan. 29. He said two men physically attacked him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs, threw a chemical liquid on him and looped a rope around his neck.
But Chicago police said Smollett orchestrated the attack with the Osundairo brothers, who he knew. One brother was an extra on "Empire" and the other was Smollett's personal trainer.
Prosecutors say Smollett paid the Osundairo brothers to pull off the staged attack.
Daniels says the situation nearly made him forget to tell audiences that the Fox drama returns to the air Wednesday. Daniels and other producers removed Smollett's character from the season's final episodes after his arrest in Chicago.
Smollett has pleaded not guilty.
WLS-TV contributed to this report.