Gabrielle Union Has '5-Hour' Meeting With NBC: Everything to Know About Her 'AGT' Exit

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America's Got Talent's feud with Gabrielle Union is heating up.

After news broke that neither Union nor her fellow judge, Julianne Hough, would return for the NBC show's 15th season, everyone from Dwyane Wade to Ariana Grande had something to say about the situation.

Keep reading for a full breakdown of everything that's gone down so far.

Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union Exit 'AGT'

Following Variety's report of the news, a source confirmed to ET that both Hough and Union will not return for the show's 2020 season after replacing Mel B and Heidi Klum. An insider told Variety that judges are often cycled out and later return to the show.

Report Claims Union Expressed Concern Over 'Toxic Culture'

In a followup story, Variety detailed Union's allegations against AGT, which, the outlet claims, had a "toxic culture." Among the incidents in question were an alleged 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."

After the first incident -- when Leno allegedly said that dogs in a portrait with Simon Cowell looked like they would be "on the menu at a Korean restaurant" -- Union reportedly urged the show's producers to report the incident to NBC's Human Resources department, as the racially insensitive joke was viewed as perpetuating stereotypes about Asian cultures eating dog meat. She reportedly had a conversation with an NBC exec, but the incident was never brought to HR, according to Variety. Leno's comment was cut before the segment aired.

Though Union reportedly objected to the quick-changing act and argued that the show’s live audience should not be subjected to anything that's racially insensitive, the producers allegedly disagreed. The contestant was cut before the audition rounds aired, though.

In regard to the last point, a network insider denied the volume of hairstyle notes to the outlet, claiming that there were only notes about "hair continuity" for both her and Hough.

NBC Reacts to 'Toxic Culture' Report

NBC and Fremantle, the production company behind AGT, responded to the reports and allegations, telling ET in a statement: "America’s Got Talent has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show.

"The judging and host line-up has been regularly refreshed over the years and that is one of the reasons for AGT’s enduring popularity," the statement continued. "NBC and the producers take any issues on set seriously."

Dwyane Wade Claims Wife Was Fired From Show

Though no official reason for Union and Hough's exit has been provided, days after the news broke, Union's husband, Dwyane Wade, took to Twitter to give his two cents.

"'Men lie, Women lie, numbers don’t' Over this past year I’ve been approached by many people saying that my wife @itsgabrielleu is the main reason they’ve started watching #AGT or that they love her insight and sincerity on the show," he began. "So when i got the news that my wife was being fired -- my first question was obviously why!? I am still waiting on a good answer to that question. But if anyone knows @itsgabrielleu or have heard of her you know she’s an advocate for our community and culture."

"As proud as I were of her being selected as a judge on #AGT— I am even more proud of her standing up for what she stands for and that’s US," Wade continued. "So ? to you @itsgabrielleu on not losing sight of the lessons we’ve talked about teaching our daughter and for kicking a** while you were on that platform. Number 1 judge on one of the biggest shows in the world‼️"

Stars Speak Out in Support of Union

As social media circulated the story, celebs came forward to express their support for Union in the matter. Eva Longoria called Union's alleged AGT experience "unacceptable;" Ellen Pompeo said the reports were "unfortunate" and praised Union's "courage" in coming forward; Ariana Grande told NBC to "be better;" Lin-Manuel Miranda declared himself "Team @itsgabrielleu, always."

Other vocal celebs included Sophia Bush, Melanie Lynskey, Piper Perabo and Patricia Arquette. Union's AGT hairstylist, Larry Sims, also posted an Instagram video of the actress' many looks on the show, writing, "Too Black? Nah… She’s FLAWLESS!!!"

Union 'Humbled and Thankful' Following Support

Following the outpouring of love, Union took to Twitter to express her gratitude.

"So many tears, so much gratitude. THANK YOU! Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone... you got me up off the ground," she tweeted. "Humbled and thankful, forever."

NBC Says They Are Committed to Having 'a Respectful Workplace'

In a statement to ET, the network, as well as the show's production companies, Fremantle and Syco, said: "We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture. 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."

Union Responds to NBC's Statement

Soon after the network's latest statement was released, Union retweeted a list detailing what makes a proper apology on Twitter. 

In the original tweet, the author outlined what makes for a "solid apology," including admitting wrongdoing, being vocal about mistakes, and revealing how you'll address similar situations in the future. 

"This! This! AND THIIISSSSSSS!!!!!!" Union tweeted in response. 

SAG-AFTRA Launches Investigation

As a result of Variety's report, SAG-AFTRA announced that they're launching an investigation into the matter.

"We take issues of workplace health and safety very seriously. We immediately reached out to Ms. Union's representatives when these reports came to light," the union said in a statement to ET. "It is our practice to work closely with members who reach out to us and their representatives in instances like this, as that usually affords the best protection and best resolution for the affected member."

"For certain matters, our investigation and enforcement needs to happen independently and we are prepared to handle this issue accordingly, as warranted," the statement continued. "Our enforcement action is usually handled confidentially to protect the member involved, and we typically do not publicize these matters unless the member requests that we do so."

SAG-AFTRA added that "while we have taken steps to investigate this matter, we have nothing to report now."

Howard Stern Weighs In

Amid the drama, Howard Stern, who served as a judge on the show from seasons seven to 10, blasted AGT creator Simon Cowell for allegedly turning the judges' panel into "the ultimate example of a boys club," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"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, referring to how Cowell casts the show's judges.

"What he manages to do on all his shows is he constantly replaces the hot chicks with hotter chicks and younger chicks. Which is so obvious," he continued.

Jay Leno Reacts to 'AGT' Drama

Following Variety's claims about the allegedly racially insensitive joke from Leno, the TV personality had nothing but praise for Union when he was questioned by paparazzi in a video obtained by TMZ.

"I love Gabrielle Union. She's a great girl," Leno said. "I really enjoyed working with her."

"I don't know [if she was treated fairly]," he added. "She's a great girl." 

Simon Cowell's 'Wake-Up Call'

While Cowell has yet to speak out publicly, a source recently told ET that his close friends hope the scandal will change his ways.

"Simon created AGT and no one gets in his way, but people close to him are hopeful this is a wake-up call to him and NBC that a change needs to happen," the source said. 

The source also claimed that Cowell has "a long track record of firing mostly women for his own personal reasons or for feeling like they are too old." 

'AGT' Consults With Union and Outside Counsel

ET has learned that, as a result of Variety's reports, NBC, Fremantle and Syco are retaining outside counsel to assist them in learning more about the facts in this matter, starting with hearing from Union, which they expect to happen this week. According to the source, Union is open to working with NBC when it comes to making changes in its workplace culture.
"Although Gabrielle is done with AGT, she wants to work with NBC to help improve the culture surrounding the show and studio," the source said. "Gabrielle has always been an activist and wants to make positive change so nothing like this happens again."

Union later tweeted that she had met with NBC. 

"We had a lengthy 5-hour, and what I thought to be, productive meeting yesterday," she wrote. "I was able to, again, express my unfiltered truth. I led with transparency and my desire and hope for real change."

Sharon Osbourne Speaks Out

ET recently caught up with Sharon Osbourne -- who served as a judge on the show during seasons two through eight -- and she described AGT as "a boys club."

"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," she said. "And Simon, historically, when he works on a show, he constantly changes the people on the panel. He does it with all his shows in England, and here, he does it all the time. And he's got the right to do it."

"Simon always likes to have whoever's hot at that time on his panel. I don't think it's served him in the past, but that's my opinion and I'm entitled to my opinion. You can have the hottest, newest taste in town, but it doesn't mean they're right for your panel," she added. "He said he wanted young blood, and he got young blood. And the ratings went down. Not saying that they were checking in for me, but sometimes, the newest, bestest taste in town isn't always right for his sort of shows."

Osbourne, who first addressed the controversy on a recent episode of The Talk, also maintained that she "loved the show, loved the crew, loved everybody on the panel" and "had an absolute blast on the show."

"I left because of NBC, not because of the show. However, I had my own problems with the network," she said on The Talk. "I don't know about any of [Union's] concerns about the show. Obviously, there wasn't anybody of color on the panel when I was there, so I honestly can't say... The crew and everybody was amazing to me, everybody, except the network." 

NBC Launching 'Further Investigation'

Following a five-hour meeting with Union over her concerns about a "toxic culture" on the set of America's Got Talent this week, NBC is launching a deeper investigation into her claims.

"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," an NBC spokesperson told ET in a statement.

Julianne Hough Says Union's Meeting With NBC Was an 'Amazing Step'

The 31-year-old former Dancing With the Stars pro told ET at the 87th Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center in NYC, that she's "really happy" Union met with the network.

"That's awesome. Oh good. That's amazing," Hough expressed. "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."

When asked why she's not returning to the 2020 season of AGT, Julianne said, "My option was not picked up," adding that she was not given a reason why. "I found out later as I had conversations. But everybody has their unique experiences whether it was on AGT or multiple other shows that people have. So everybody has their unique human experience. That's what it is to be human and so I value everybody's voice and I just feel like everybody should be heard. Whether that's publicly or privately, I feel like everybody has that choice and that right."

ET has reached out to NBC, Union, Hough, and Cowell for comment.


Gabrielle Union's 'America's Got Talent' Exit Could Be a 'Wake-Up Call' for Simon Cowell, Source Says

Eva Longoria, Ellen Pompeo and More Stars Rally Around Gabrielle Union After 'AGT' Exit

Sharon Osbourne Weighs In on Gabrielle Union's 'AGT' Exit and Her 'Own Problems' With NBC

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