“America’s Got Talent” producers Fremantle and Syco Entertainment, along with NBC, released the findings from their outside investigation into Gabrielle Union’s controversial departure from the competition show.
Union alleged in November 2019 that there was a racist and generally “toxic” work culture amid the news that she and fellow judge Julianne Hough wouldn’t be returning for the 2020 season.
On Wednesday, NBC and the “AGT” producers said in a statement to Fox News that they took Union’s concern “extremely seriously” and “conducted more than 30 interviews to review the issues raised by Ms. Union” via an external investigator.
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“Through the investigation process, it has been revealed that no one associated with the show made any insensitive or derogatory remarks about Ms. Union’s appearance and that neither race nor gender was a contributing factor in the advancement or elimination of contestants at any time,” the statement reads.
“The investigation has shown that the concerns raised by Ms. Union had no bearing on the decision not to exercise the option on her contract,” it continued.
“NBC, Fremantle and Syco share Ms. Union’s dedication to diversity and inclusion in the industry. We continue to remain committed to having an inclusive environment for everyone associated with the show, and to upholding ‘AGT’ as one of the most diverse programs on television,” the statement concluded.
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The news of Union’s departure following Season 14 of the show was broken by Variety. The report alleged that Union was subject to various racial criticisms, including her many hairstyle changes, which were perceived as “too black” for “AGT’s” core demographic — a critique Union claimed she received over half a dozen times.
Union, 47, was also reportedly not a fan of a racially insensitive joke made by Jay Leno on set.
During the filming of an interstitial segment, Leno joked about a painting that featured Simon Cowell surrounded by dogs. Leno joked that the dogs looked like something one could find “on the menu at a Korean restaurant” — much to the chagrin of “the very few Asian staffers” on the show.
The comment was later edited out of an August episode.
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In another interview with Variety, posted on Wednesday, Union discussed her previous allegation regarding Leno’s “wildly racist” joke and a new accusation against executive producer Simon Cowell.
She claimed that his constant smoking onset made her sick because she’s “severely allergic” to cigarette smoke.
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“I couldn’t escape,” she said. “I ended up staying sick for two months straight. It was a cold that lingered and turned into bronchitis because I couldn’t shake it. It impacted my voice, which affects my ability to do my job.”
Meanwhile, a representative for Cowell told the publication that “when he was directly informed of the smoking complaint during the first couple of days of the season, he immediately changed his behavior and the issue was never raised again.”