BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Jussie Smollett is gone from "Empire" but his character will live on, at least in photos.

Smollett's Jamal Lyon, who last season married Kai (Toby Onwumere), will be away on his honeymoon when the Fox drama returns Sept. 24 for its sixth and last season, Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier said Wednesday.

"You'll see pictures of him in the background," Collier said, without elaborating. He promised "surprises at the beginning of the season that you're going to love."

In a Q&A with TV critics, affirmed series producer Lee Daniels' decision to drop Smollett from the hip-hop family drama.

Daniels had initially supported Smollett after the actor claimed he suffered a racist and anti-gay attack in Chicago. But when Smollett faced charges for allegedly fabricating the attack, Daniels said the matter had become painful and frustrating for him and the "Empire" cast .

Prosecutors dropped the charges against Smollett in March, but a special prosecutor could charge him again.

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