It was just a few days ago that it was announced that “America’s Got Talent” judges Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union would not return for Season 15 on the long-running reality show. The two were brought in to replace Melanie Brown and Heidi Klum. The event didn’t seem too out of the ordinary.
But now we may be finding out a little bit more about why Union left the show.
There’s an apparent toxic culture going on behind the scenes at “America’s Got Talent,” and it looks like Union spoke up too much about it.
Initially, Union was excited about her new endeavor.
“I’m a new judge this season and I’m also a new mom this year. It’s the toughest job I’ve ever had and the most rewarding job I’ve ever had,” Union has said in the past about her job and Kaavia, her daughter who was born by surrogate last November.
Popculture writes that a follow-up story about Union’s firing may be alluding to something a lot more disturbing.
A story by Variety says that the environment backstage at “America’s Got Talent” has been racially insensitive on several occasions. Variety‘s story begins by making a reference to a joke that Jay Leno made in April while he was a guest judge on the show.
Leno’s “joke” was clearly offensive to Asian Americans:
“While taping, Leno made a crack about a painting on display in a hallway of Simon Cowell, the show’s executive producer and judge, surrounded by his dogs. Leno joked that the pets looked like something one would find ‘on the menu at a Korean restaurant,’ four people present for the taping told Variety.”
Union heard the joke and complained to producers, hoping that they would inform human resources at NBC. Variety reports that human resources never stepped in to investigate.
NBC eventually decided to let the contracts lapse for Hough and Union.
Leno’s tasteless remark wasn’t the only incident of racial insensitivity on “America’s Got Talent.” Apparently, Hough and Union received comments about their wardrobe.
Notes that Union got about her outfits contained racist remarks. A note about Union’s hair style allegedly referred to her look being “too black.”
NBC and Fremantle, the producer of the series, put out a statement:
“ ‘America’s Got Talent’ has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show.
The judging and host line-up has been regularly refreshed over the years and that is one of the reasons for AGT’s enduring popularity. NBC and the producers take any issues on set seriously.”