Howard Stern is not holding back in his criticism of Simon Cowell over the “America’s Got Talent” controversy surrounding Gabrielle Union.
On “The Howard Stern Show”, the radio host slammed Cowell, claiming the “AGT” creator and judge “orchestrated” Union and fellow judge Julianne Hough being released from their contracts.
“How is it that Simon Cowell has orchestrated this?” Stern said, according to Variety. “He sets it up that the men stay, no matter how ugly they are, no matter how old they are, no matter how fat they are, no matter how talentless they are.”
He added that it is “obvious” that “AGT” regularly swaps female judges for “hotter chicks and younger chicks.”
Stern was himself a judge on the reality competition series for four seasons, from 2012 to 2015. The longest-serving judge is Howie Mandel, who has been on the show since 2010.
Mel B and Heidi Klum served as judges from Season 8 to Season 13, with Union and Hough filling their spots in Season 14.
Eva Longoria was among those slamming NBC for their alleged behaviour on Instagram, posting: “What @gabunion experienced on set at @NBC’s #AmericasGotTalent is unacceptable.
“It’s time for @NBCUniversal to commit to long-term, concrete action to fix its toxic workplace culture and ensure safety and equity for all its workers. Add your name through @timesupnow Instagram story. #TimeUp on the imbalance of power. ✊🏼”
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What @gabunion experienced on set at @NBC’s #AmericasGotTalent is unacceptable. It’s time for @NBCUniversal to commit to long-term, concrete action to fix its toxic workplace culture and ensure safety and equity for all its workers. Add your name through @timesupnow Instagram story. #TimeUp on the imbalance of power. ✊🏼
The show has been subject to serious criticism of its workplace environment following initial reports of Union and Hough’s departures.
Variety reported Union was told repeatedly that her hairstyles were “too black” for the “AGT” audience.
In a statement about the controversy, Time’s Up CEO Tina Tchen said, “Gabrielle Union’s experience at ‘America’s Got Talent’ is exemplary of the double bind that black women face at work. Not only did Union reportedly endure and witness racist and inappropriate behaviour – including racially-insensitive comments and excessive criticism about her physical appearance – but it also appears she was punished for speaking out: the company labeled her as ‘difficult’ before ousting her from the show altogether.”
She continued, “Union’s story is deeply troubling on its own, but her experience is particularly problematic because it follows a pattern of NBCUniversal protecting the careers of powerful men at the expense of women who speak out.”
NBC and producers Fremantle said in 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 lineup 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.”
Meanwhile, Fremantle and Cowell’s company Syco released a statement confirming they have reached out to reps for Union.
“We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture,” the statement said. “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.”
On Twitter, Union has retweeted a tweet about how to properly apologize.