NBC and America's Got Talent producers, Fremantle and Syco Entertainment, have announced the results of an investigation into the events surrounding Gabrielle Union's exit from the show.
Back in November, it was revealed that both Union and Julianne Hough would not be returning for the 2020 season. The decision surprised many viewers as both judges had joined the series only months before. Just a few days later, Variety published a report claiming Union had expressed concern over an "offensive" joke allegedly made by Jay Leno. The outlet also published accusations of a "toxic culture at the show," including that Union and Hough had allegedly received "excessive notes on their physical appearance" and that Union's hairstyles had allegedly been labeled as "too black."
On Thursday, NBC and the AGT producers said in a statement that, "through the investigation process, it has been revealed that no one associated with the show made any insensitive or derogatory remarks about Ms. Union's appearance, and that neither race nor gender was a contributing factor in the advancement or elimination of contestants at any time."
"The investigation has shown that the concerns raised by Ms. Union had no bearing on the decision not to exercise the option on her contract," NBC, Fremantle and Syco continued in part of the statement obtained by E! News. "NBC, Fremantle and Syco share Ms. Union's dedication to diversity and inclusion in the industry. We continue to remain committed to having an inclusive environment for everyone associated with the show, and to upholding AGT as one of the most diverse programs on television."
In December, NBC and AGT's production companies revealed they were working with Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns. The 47-year-old actress also said a "productive meeting" was held and that she was able to express her "unfiltered truth." It was that month that the announcement of an investigation was made.
In their statement, NBC, Fremantle and Syco said they took Union's concerns "extremely seriously" and that they "immediately engaged an outside investigator who conducted more than 30 interviews to review the issues raised by Ms. Union."
"While the investigation has demonstrated an overall culture of diversity, it has also highlighted some areas in which reporting processes could be improved," the companies stated at one point.
Union also spoke out on Thursday in a new interview with Variety. She addressed a few of the allegations, including the one against Leno. Back in November, Variety reported Leno made a joke about a picture of Simon Cowell and his dogs.
"Leno joked that the pets looked like something one would find 'on the menu at a Korean restaurant,'" the publication's article stated, citing four people at the show's taping.
Union said she "was not prepared for his joke" and that she "gasped" and "froze" when she heard it.
"Other things had already happened, but at this point, it was so wildly racist," she told the outlet.
While Leno has not commented on the claim directly, he did tell TMZ he "really enjoyed working with Union."
Union did not comment on the allegation regarding her hair.
She also discussed previously unpublished allegations, including one about Cowell smoking by her when she's "severely allergic" to cigarette smoke.
"I couldn't escape," she told the publication. "I ended up staying sick for two months straight. It was a cold that lingered, and turned into bronchitis, because I couldn't shake it. It impacted my voice, which affects my ability to do my job,"
A spokesperson for Cowell told Variety "when he was directly informed of the smoking complaint during the first couple of days of the season, he immediately changed his behavior and the issue was never raised again." According to Variety, "an individual familiar with the internal investigation of AGT" claimed "the matter was addressed" but that the "investigation hasn't concluded that Cowell's indoor smoking has stopped entirely."
To read Union's full interview, head over to Variety.
NBC, Fremantle and Syco's full statement can be read here.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)