Almost a year after Gabrielle Union was fired as a judge from America’s Got Talent after just one season, she and NBC have come to a deal over her claims of misconduct and racial discrimination on the show and at the Comcast-owned network.
“We’ve reached an amicable resolution,” said NBC and Union in a concise joint statement this morning. “NBC Entertainment appreciates the important concerns raised by Gabrielle Union and remains committed to ensuring an inclusive and supportive working environment where people of all backgrounds can be treated with respect.”
Although neither party are saying more publicly, Deadline has learned that Union received “significant” compensation from the network, as one source put it. Also, having seen Paul Telegdy exit as NBC Entertainment chairman in early August, this is clearly another victory for CAA-repped Union in her battle to shine a spotlight on the behind-the-scenes workings at AGT and NBC.
Soon after being axed in November 2019, Union and her attorney Bryan Freedman sat down for a post-mortem of sorts with NBC, plus producers Fremantle and Simon Cowell’s Syco, as matters were debated on social media. It did not go well, with the network essentially crying split milk and protecting one of its most valuable properties even as the first of what would be several investigations were launched.
As the clash played out publicly, behind the scenes, things got very nasty.
On a February phone call, Telegdy is alleged to have directly threatened Union’s agent over the actress and activist moving ahead with complaints of the toxic environment on the Cowell-dominated AGT. In fact, while a lawsuit was never actually filed, the apparently didactic Telegdy was repeatedly cited harshly in Union’s detailed harassment, discrimination and retaliation complaint filed in June with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
While calling the claims of Telegdy’s threats “categorically untrue” in an immediate response, NBC soon launched another investigation into the burgeoning matter. Telegdy, deep-sixed in a restructuring last month, was also said to have spoken earlier this year about the investigation into Union’s allegations of “racist and misogynistic conduct” on AGT with “A-list talent with whom NBC was looking to hire” and others — a direct violation of NBCUniversal policy.
Having said that, the first official probe was launched in December last year over never-aired, inappropriate and racially themed jokes by guest Jay Leno; illegal inside smoking by Cowell; comments about Union’s hair; and what truly transpired in a May meeting between Union and Cowell at his Malibu home. As the likes of former AGT judges Sharon Osborne and Howard Stern came out against the “boy’s club” atmosphere on the competition show, that third-party-ish investigation continued as all sides lawyered up.
NBC announced the investigation was complete in May
“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 network said in a statement. “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.”
But clearly that wasn’t the end. The filing at DFEH followed, as did Teledgy’s removal. More public battle lines were drawn as AGT host Terry Crews repeatedly stumbled into the situation, and more investigations. And now today’s settlement.