Fox Shuts Down 'Empire' Due to Polar Vortex's Freezing Temperatures in Chicago

Separate from the recent alleged hate crime attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett, the frigid polar vortex assaulting the mid-west has caused Fox studios in Chicago to temporarily shut down production on the popular TV drama.

The Fox legal drama, Proven Innocent, has also shut down as temperatures fall to subzero digits with wind chills in the below negative 40-degree range.

The shut down is not related to the suspected racial, homophobic attack on Smollett, but the attack has sent chills throughout the entertainment and social justice communities. He was hospitalized and reported that the attackers yelled MAGA and pro-President Donald Trump-type phrases.

Tom Skilling, chief meteorologist at WGN-TV in Chicago, told The New York Times he predicted 72 hours of subzero wind chills and 48 hours of subzero temperatures so low that "we're going to hear buildings and outdoor objects creaking."

While Chicagoans seek safety in the historic frigid cold snap, Empire star Smollett is recovering from a brutal attack on Tuesday, when two unidentified attackers alleged yelled racial and homophobic slurs. They reportedly wrapped a rope around the actor's neck.

Police say they are investigating the incident as "a possible hate crime." It occurred in a Chicago neighborhood known as Streeterville, reported the Chicago Sun-Times.

Smollett, openly gay, was walking in downtown Chicago when two people approached him, reportedly screamed the slurs and started hitting him in the face. They also allegedly poured an "unknown chemical substance" on him.

One of the attackers allegedly wrapped a rope around Smollett's neck before they fled. Reportedly, the "thin, light rope" still hung around Smollett's neck when police arrived at an apartment where the actor fled after the attack, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

"Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime," the police statement said.

Also, the FBI is separately looking into a letter threatening the actor sent a week ago to the Empire television show offices. The letter reportedly contained threatening language toward Smollett and an unidentified white, powdery substance.

On Tuesday night, the police said in a statement that the area where Smollett said the attack occurred had "very high density of city and private surveillance cameras."

After viewing hundreds of hours of video, detectives have widened their search to cameras from surrounding areas for more helpful information on the suspects or their vehicle.

Meanwhile, temperatures continued to drop in Chicago early Wednesday to minus 19 degrees, breaking the day's previous record low set in 1966–and colder than Barrow, Alaska–the northern-most U.S. town.

The wind chill factor, as the Associated Press reported, reached negative 47 degrees. The National Weather Service has warned when the wind chill reaches minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit, skin can freeze within 15 minutes.

Chicago and other mid-west officials are protecting the homeless, seniors, folks living in substandard housing and other vulnerable people from the bitter cold. Chicago authorities have transformed buses into mobile warming shelters for the homeless in the city.

As O'Hara International Airport authorities canceled 1,300 flights on Wednesday due to the frigid cold, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel warned as the storm approached:

"These (conditions) are actually a public health risk and you need to treat it appropriately. They are life-threatening conditions and temperatures."