Unscripted

NBC, Fremantle, Syco comment on “America’s Got Talent” investigation

U.S. broadcaster NBC and prodcos Fremantle and Syco Entertainment have released their results from a joint investigation into the culture surrounding the production of talent competition series America’s Got Talent – ...
May 27, 2020

U.S. broadcaster NBC and prodcos Fremantle and Syco Entertainment have released their results from a joint investigation into the culture surrounding the production of talent competition series America’s Got Talent – an investigation prompted by the high-profile exit of former AGT judge Gabrielle Union last year.

According to a statement issued by the broadcaster and the production companies, while the investigation from the three parties showed that the series and its production process has an “overall culture of diversity, it has also highlighted some areas in which reporting processes could be improved.” Those areas weren’t specifically identified in the statement.

Furthermore, the three parties state: “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.”

The network and producers say that more than 30 interviews were conducted in the course of the investigation. Another judge, Julianne Hough, didn’t have her contract renewed for another season.

NBC promised to investigate the situation further in December of last year, following a meeting with Union, which came after Variety ran a report in November in which sources alleged that there was a “toxic culture” behind the scenes of the series. Among other instances of alleged racial insensitivity and tensions, sources told Variety that Union received notes regarding her hairstyles being “too black” for the America’s Got Talent audience.

Shortly afterward, SAG-AFTRA confirmed that it was investigating the matter.

The statement echoes another one sent to Variety for the publication’s recent cover story featuring Union, in which she elaborates further upon what she says were her experiences on set.

The 15th season of America’s Got Talent premiered yesterday (May 26).

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news editor at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joined the RS team in 2015 with experience in journalism following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and with communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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