Police have denied suggestions they are investigating whether an alleged racist and homophobic attack on Empire actor Jussie Smollett was staged.
Smollett, who is gay and plays gay character Jamal Lyon in the hip-hop drama, said late last month that two men had wrapped a rope around his neck and poured an unknown substance over him.
His account is “100% factual and consistent on every level”, he said a couple of days later.
But Chicago ABC7 TV said “multiple sources” had told the network that officers are examining whether the apparent assault by two men was faked because Smollett was being written out of the New York-set drama.
The channel quoted officers as saying: “Police are investigating whether the two individuals committed the attack – or whether the attack happened at all.”
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said ABC’s report was “unconfirmed by case detectives”.
The channel had been informed, he added in a tweet, that officers had “no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed sources are uninformed and inaccurate”.
Twentieth Century Fox, which produces Empire, said: “The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of Empire is patently ridiculous.
“He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”
Speaking in a TV interview on Thursday, Smollett, 35, said of those who disbelieve him: “It’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth, you don’t even want to see the truth.”
Police have not found any video footage of the alleged assault, which they say is being investigated as a hate crime.
Two men being questioned know Smollett after working with him on Empire – and are said to be “baffled” by police interest in them.
Mr Guglielmi said officers were questioning two “persons of interest” who were “alleged to be in the area where a crime was reported”.
He added: “They are not considered suspects at this time. We remain in communication with the alleged victim.”
The two men were picked up at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Wednesday night after returning from Nigeria where they had been visiting family, their lawyer Gloria Schmidt told TV station CBS2.
Ms Schmidt added: “They do know Jussie, they have worked with him on Empire. They are baffled why they are persons of interest.”