English Businessman Simon Cowell’s production companies Syco Entertainment and Fremantle, and NBC, which broadcasts America’s Got Talent, are being investigated.
As per the news, America’s Got Talent reportedly came under scrutiny after Gabrielle Union parted ways citing discriminatory environment at the workplace. The show’s failure to renew her contract is, therefore, looked upon by Sag-Afrta, which represents actors and performers.
The reports state that Union had asked producers to report an offensive joke made by American comedian Jay Leno, during the filming of his performance.
During the show, Leno cracked a joke on Koreans, which is sought to have targeted stereotypes about Asian cultures eating dog meat. Consequently, when the show aired, the joke was cut and never broadcasted.
Besides, Gabrielle Union had also alleged that she was subjected to “excessive notes” on the way she carries herself, and was often told that her hair was “too black”.
American dancer Julianne Hough, whose contract was also not renewed, was also alleged to have been amidst excessive criticism over her personal appearance including hair, make up and wardrobe, as per the insiders. However, Hough recently denied the claims, in a statement to Variety.
The sources state that apart from Union, the other members of staff have also been racially abused on the show.
Meanwhile, actress Elizabeth Banks tweeted her support of Union and the investigation. She wrote: “Thank you @itsgabrielleu for speaking up about a toxic culture at @NBC ‘s #AmericasGotTalent. It’s time for NBC to take these allegations seriously. Join me & @TIMESUPNOW in calling for accountability & concrete action”.
While Union Tweeted: “So many tears, so much gratitude. THANK YOU! Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone… you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever”.
Defending the claims, NBC, Fremantle and Syco released a joint statement on Sunday stating, they are committed to ensure a respectful workplace and have taken the claims about workplace culture seriously. While America’s Got Talent also portrayed the same concern in its statement.
The question is, for a talent hunt show that has given recognition to people from all backgrounds no matter black or white, the allegations, if true, can really spill the beans about its off-screen reality.