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SAG-AFTRA expands probe into Fremantle, “America’s Got Talent”

SAG-AFTRA is “expanding its investigation” into America’s Got Talent producer Fremantle, which began after actor and judge Gabrielle Union departed from the NBC series in November. The labor union’s decision was also ...
December 20, 2019

SAG-AFTRA is “expanding its investigation” into America’s Got Talent producer Fremantle, which began after actor and judge Gabrielle Union departed from the NBC series in November.

The labor union’s decision was also prompted by the recent firing of Orlando Jones from Starz drama American Gods, also produced by Fremantle. The actor released a video on Dec. 14 claiming the decision was racially motivated.

“Our enforcement actions are handled confidentially to protect the members involved, and we typically do not publicize these matters unless the affected members request that we do so,” SAG-AFTRA stated. “We have nothing further to report at this time.”

“We welcome this investigation and intend to cooperate fully,” Fremantle said in a statement to Realscreen, adding: “Allegations without factual support should not go unchecked. We have already informed SAG-AFTRA that we are willing to meet to discuss the allegations.”

NBC announced plans earlier this month to further investigate the behind-the-scenes culture at America’s Got Talent following a Dec. 3 meeting with Union (pictured bottom left), who had reportedly raised concerns about racial insensitivity and tensions prior to her exit.

“We had a lengthy five-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,” Union tweeted Dec. 4.

Shortly after breaking the news that Union and fellow judge Julianne Hough (bottom right) would not return for the show’s 15th season, Variety published a report Nov. 26 in which sources alleged that Union received notes regarding her hairstyles being “too black” for the show’s audience, among other alleged incidents.

SAG-AFTRA confirmed it was investigating the matter on Dec. 2. That day, NBC and series’ producers Syco Entertainment and Fremantle released a joint statement: “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.”

With files from Barry Walsh

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