An investigation of Gabrielle Union’s complaints of racism and other troubling behavior on the set of America’s Got Talent is being taken very seriously by NBC, the network’s entertainment chief said Saturday (Jan. 11).
Paul Telegdy said the company will respond appropriately when it receives the findings of its inquiry, which he said may be completed by the end of January.
“I’m very confident if we learn something … we will put new practices in place if necessary. We certainly take anyone’s critique of what it means to come to work here incredibly seriously,” the NBC Entertainment chairman told a TV critics meeting during a Q&A session.
“We want to always go after the truth. That’s our culture here, you can ask anyone who works here,” he said.
Union, known for her roles in the films Bring It On and Bad Boys II, was a judge on the talent showcase for a season, until she and fellow freshman judge Julianne Hough weren’t asked to return.
The trade publication Variety reported that Union, who is black, believed she was fired because she had asked NBC and the show’s producers to respond to an environment that tolerated racist jokes and remarks. That included what Union said were multiple notes from producers saying she was wearing her hair “too black” for the America’s Got Talent audience.
Union had also complained of other behavior, such as judge-producer Simon Cowell’s smoking on the indoor set, Variety reported in November.
NBC has spoken with Union as part of its formal investigation that began in early December.
Without directly referring to NBC or the two companies that produce the show, Fremantle and Syco, Union has tweeted about her situation several times, acknowledging the support she’s gotten and retweeting instructions on how to give a proper apology.
Union’s husband, former NBA player Dwyane Wade, and other prominent people have called for answers on why she was fired.
In a statement last November, NBC and Fremantle defended what they called the show’s “long history of inclusivity and diversity.”
The Screen Actors Guild?American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, of which Union is a member, also said that it was working with the actress to investigate her complaints.