Randy Jackson is staying neutral. The 63-year-old music producer and former American Idol judge spoke with Us Weekly this week about the “America’s Got Talent” drama between Jackson’s former Idol co-star Simon Cowell and actress Gabrielle Union.
Union left “AGT” earlier this month and came forward with her concerns about the “toxic culture” on set.
“It’s a tough situation. I’m sorry for her. I feel bad about that situation but I love her,” Jackson told Us Weekly of the widely reported rift. “I’m sure they’ll figure it out.”
As for Cowell, Jackson spoke out in defense of him, adding, “Cowell’s my boy. I mean, I love him. [‘America’s Got Talent’ is] a great franchise. I’m sure they’ll work it out and figure it out.”
Jackson noted that he isn’t aware of what’s happening behind the scenes, but noted, “I trust that NBC is doing what they need to do.”
Last week, Union tweeted of her meeting with the network, 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.”
The network later mirrored Union’s sentiment in its own statement.
“The initial conversation was candid and productive. 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,” a NBC spokesperson told ET.
Following Union’s meeting with NBC, Hough, who also left “AGT”, praised her former fellow judge’s efforts.
“That’s awesome. Oh good. That’s amazing,” Julianne told ET’s Rachel Smith of Union’s meeting with the network. “Honestly, we’ve been here doing so many rehearsals I haven’t really looked at my phone, but that makes me really happy. That’s such an amazing step in shifting the paradigm of the workplace and it’s great.”
Other stars have spoken out in defense of Union, including former “AGT” judges Howard Stern and Sharon Osbourne, who slammed Cowell and his “boys club.”
“He sets it up that the men stay no matter how ugly [the men] are, no matter how old they are, no matter how fat they are, no matter how talentless they are,” Stern said according to The Hollywood Reporter, referring to how Cowell casts the show’s judges.
As for Osbourne, she told ET: “Simon owns the show, he can do whatever he wants. He owns it, it’s his show, he can work with whoever he wants… and I’m not saying that in a passive-aggressive way — he’s earned the right to sit next to whoever he wants to sit next to. And that’s it, that’s the industry we work in.”
After the news broke that Union would not be returning to “AGT” as a judge for the 2020 season, Variety detailed the actress’ allegations against the show. These included a “toxic culture” on set, an allegedly racially insensitive joke made by guest judge Jay Leno, a contestant whose quick-changing act reportedly included the use of dark makeup on his hands to portray Beyonce, and allegedly numerous comments from network executives about Union’s hairstyles being “too black.”