“America’s Got Talent” Should Be Called “America’s Got A Racism Problem” According To Sources

November 27, 2019 / Posted by:

Variety has some more information about those racially charged environments allegedly going on at America’s Got Talent. After it was announced that Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough are not returning for next season, despite both being quite popular on social media–more so than the male judges Howie Mandel and Simon Cowell, reports came out that there was some shadiness behind it.

Well now there’s some more details on the alleged business going down at AGT and Jay Leno is supposedly involved.

Jay Leno was a guest judge on America’s Got Talent last April. During a taped segment with the judges, they were in a hallway with a painting of Simon and his dogs. Jay said it looked like something:

“On the the menu at a Korean restaurant.”

Four sources are co-signing this happened. People thought this was a bad choice considering “the very few Asian staffers” who work on the show. One of them was there for the joke.

Gabrielle allegedly urged the producers to talk to HR at NBC about this since Jay made the joke on camera with an Asian staffer within earshot. So… clearly this was like a “thing.” But not at NBC. Gabs just wanted production to understand why the joke might offend “the staff and audience“. Three people say she specifically brought up the incident with an NBC executive on set. The line was cut from the episode on August 6th.

As for how Gabrielle and Julianne were treated, two sources say that Julianne received “consistent criticism” on her appearance. It “impacted her morale and led to tensions.” But listen, Julianne has two NBC specials coming up so she ain’t about to bite the hand that feeds her. She said in a statement:

“I had a wonderful time on America’s Got Talent, I loved working with the cast, crew and producers. I am happy to continue my working relationship with NBC… I’m looking forward to what the future holds.”

Gabrielle’s comments were reportedly more racially-targeted. Sources say she got a consistent note that her constantly changing hair styles were “too black” for the audience. Another network insider tried to defend NBC and “disputed the volume of notes”. They said “there was only feedback about hair continuity for both judges.” 

Another time, Gabrielle complained about something a contestant was pulling during auditions.

The contestant’s gimmick involved rapid costume changes inside a larger garment, while impersonating a multitude of famous singers. In one such quick change, the contestant emerged in the guise of Beyoncé Knowles. His hands appeared as black, meant to be a character accent, three witnesses to the audition said.

Union immediately recommended to a segment producer and an executive producer that the contestant be removed from the lineup, sources said, adding that the producers disagreed and used a familiar refrain heard on the “AGT” set: “We’ll take it out later.”

Gabrielle suggested that the live-audience also didn’t need to see that, but NBC producers disagreed and let it happen. Just like the Korean joke, the performer was cut from the show. NBC and Fremantle declined to comment on the matter but they did say this:

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.”

Gabrielle declined to comment as well, and Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment had no comment. A spokesperson for Jay Leno did not return Variety’s calls.

Wow… Nick Cannon may have been right right. Savor the moment, it won’t happen again. NBC needs to really handle some business at home. First Harvey Wenstein, then Matt Lauer, and now this? NBC employees should expect to come back from the Thanksgiving holiday with all kinds of racial and gender trainings lined up. Lesson One: Black People’s Hair And Why You’re Never Allowed To Comment On It.

Pic: NBC Universal

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