NBC Boss Promises 'New Practices If Necessary' at AGT After Gabrielle Union's Allegations
Results of the America's Got Talent investigation are expected to be concluded "by the end of January"
In mid-November, news broke that Union and fellow judge Julianne Hough — who joined season 14 of AGT in February 2019, replacing spots previously held by Mel B and Heidi Klum — would not be returning for the 15th season. The announcement stirred up a controversy over Union’s reported allegations of racial insensitivities on set.
On Saturday, during the network’s Television Critics Association press tour, president of NBC Entertainment Paul Telegdy shared that the show is “in the middle of an investigation,” calling it “really serious.”
“I can’t deny it, and that’s being handled by lawyers,” added Telegdy, who said the results of the investigation should be available “by the end of January.”
Telegdy explained that as the investigation continues, “we certainly take anyone’s critique who comes to work here incredibly seriously,” adding, “if we learn something, we’ll certainly put new practices in place, if necessary.”
Despite the reports of AGT‘s mistreatment, Telegdy maintains the reality competition show as “magnificent” and “a place where you see lives changed forever.”
The report also claimed both Union and Hough said they were subjected to “excessive notes” on their physical appearance, sources alleged in Variety‘s report. In one instance, Union reportedly said she was told her ever-changing hairstyles were “too black” for AGT‘s audience, while Hough reportedly said she received constant criticism on her hair, makeup and wardrobe.
Hough previously denied she had a negative experience on the show and said she was “happy to continue my working relationship with NBC.” Hough later spoke out in support of Union.
Union revealed on Dec. 4 that she sat down with NBC and AGT production company following reports that she expressed concerns over racial insensitivity and a toxic culture at the show, which is produced by Fremantle and Simon Cowell‘s company Syco Entertainment.
In a joint statement, Syco Entertainment, Fremantle and NBC said, “We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture. We are working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate.”
Union also tweeted about the talk, writing, “We had a lengthy 5-hour, and what I thought to be, productive meeting yesterday. I was able to again, express my unfiltered truth. I led with transparency and my desire and hope for real change.”
Cowell has reportedly enlisted longtime Hollywood litigator Larry Stein as his legal representation. (Union is working with Megyn Kelly’s former attorney Bryan Freedman.)
“The initial conversation was candid and productive,” an NBC spokesperson said in a statement to PEOPLE about their sit-down with Union. “While there will be a further investigation to get a deeper understanding of the facts, we are working with Gabrielle to come to a positive resolution.”