Gabrielle Union calls NBC a “snake pit”
Gabrielle Union calls the attention of Jimmy Fallon, Al Roker, Ted Danson — and her former “America’s Got Talent” co-star Julianne Hough — into her battle against NBC.
Union recently filed a harassment complaint against NBC and Simon Cowell on Thursday after claiming that NBC’s entertainment chief Paul Telegdy tried to silence her reports of racism. In the past, she has accused NBC and “AGT” producers Syco and Freemantle of axing her as a judge on the TV hit after she made complaints of racism on set.
Contained in the documents filed by Union’s attorneys with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, according to pagesix, Union’s legal team drew in some of the network’s biggest stars into the complaint, calling the network “a snake pit of racial offenses.”
Via her file against NBC, she accused them of hiring Hough as a judge alongside Union despite her “widely publicized scandal for personally appearing in blackface.” It stated: “Combining someone who so openly wore blackface (Hough) with someone who is black and regularly advocates on behalf of minorities (Union) should have at least alerted Telegdy that this could cause Union to experience some trepidation or concern about being unprotected from racially insensitive individuals while working as a judge on AGT… Telegdy’s decision to hire Hough has since proven to be a reflection of NBC’s true feelings about the African American community and blackface.”
However, she claimed that failing to stop Cowell from smoking cigarettes inside after she complained meant that NBC had “different rules for white males.” We reported that Cowell started smoking outside after Union complained.
Seems like the investigators are believed to have cited a decrease in ratings, lack of chemistry between the judges and Union’s performance as the reason for her departure.
Although, the documents filed by Union claimed that the steps NBC and “AGT” producers took to silence the star — and to cover up racial discrimination on the set — “[stand] in stark contrast to the current worldwide efforts to eradicate racism through the Black Lives Matter protests and movement.”
The papers features: “If NBC was so concerned about eradicating racism it would not continue remaining silent when confronted with racist behavior by its on-air talent, executives and other employees, but would instead implement swift disciplinary action.” And, “Make no mistake, NBC is part of the problem. NBC’s current attitude towards racism can be deduced from its defense of those individuals who have appeared in blackface, including, but not limited to Julianne Hough, Jimmy Fallon, Fred Armisen and Ted Danson (whom NBC hired multiple times even after he wore minstrel show blackface and used the ‘n-word’ publicly).”
The filing went on to accuse NBC of being “completely silent and unapologetic” in response to Fallon’s appearance in blackface on “Saturday Night Live” in 2000, for which he apologized on “The Tonight Show” last week.
The complaint added: “Who is NBC ‘standing by’ here and where is the ‘outrage?’ The reasons for NBC’s silence and failure to take remedial and/or disciplinary action against Fallon is that Fallon brings high television ratings to NBC, which in turn, generates revenue for NBC. Time after time NBC has chosen corporate profits over doing the right thing and taking meaningful action to eradicate racism on its own network.”
Also drawing in “Today” star Roker, the complaint said: “NBC star Al Roker and NBC seemed fine with blackface when Fallon and Armisen wore it … and did not object to Danson or Hough being hired after they prominently wore it.”
NBC Universal has issued a statement out: “The allegation that anyone involved in this process threatened Ms. Union is categorically untrue. We took Ms. Union‘s concerns seriously and engaged an outside investigator who found an overarching culture of diversity on the show. NBCUniversal remains committed to creating an inclusive and supportive working environment where people of all backgrounds are treated with respect. ”
Some days ago, Union, 47, told Variety she was compelled to report racist jokes cracked by guest judge Jay Leno, but that when she spoke up, she was cut from the show.
She also said producers allowed a contestant to perform in “blackface hands,” and complained about fellow judge Howie Mandel’s allegedly racist comments after he mocked a Spanish-singing performer.
She also objected when a 10-year-old black rapper was cut from the show by Cowell.
Union also claims that her hair was deemed “too wild” by NBC’s senior vice president of alternative programming and a producer on “AGT,” according to the harassment, discrimination and retaliation complaint that could pave the way for a lawsuit.
Union’s attorney Bryan Freedman said in a statement Thursday that NBC entertainment boss Telegdy tried to stop his client “from telling the truth about racist actions that took place” on “AGT.”
“When Gabrielle Union informed NBC of racially offensive conduct during the taping of ‘America’s Got Talent,’ NBC did not ‘stand’ with her in ‘outrage at acts of racism,’” Freedman said. The power lawyer also represented Megyn Kelly when she was ousted from NBC amid a blackface-related row.
The filing adds that: “By virtue of Union refusing to silently endure the racist and misogynistic conduct on ‘AGT,’ she was labeled as ‘intimidating’ and viewed as the problem, thus resulting in her termination. However, based on the preliminary findings of the investigator … it is clear that there are systemic problems on ‘AGT.’
“Instead of taking Union’s complaints seriously and using them as a catalyst for real meaningful change, Telegdy, NBC, Freemantel and Syco seek to blame the victim, Union, in order to maintain the status quo.”
NBC last month said it conducted an investigation into Union’s claims but that it “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.”
Hough had earlier apologized after dressing up as a black character from “Orange Is the New Black” for Halloween 2013, while the Friar’s Club apologized for Danson’s blackface appearance during a roast for his ex-girlfriend Whoopi Goldberg in 1993.