The media personality went in on the show’s creator, Simon Cowell, during his Sirius XM radio show Monday, suggesting the British TV exec “orchestrated” the situation that prompted the network to terminate its contracts with freshmen judges Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough for next season.
“He sets it up that the men stay no matter how ugly they are, no matter how old they are, no matter how fat they are, no matter how talentless they are,” Stern told his listeners.
“What he manages to do on all his shows is he constantly replaces the hot chicks with hotter chicks and younger chicks,” he continued. “Howie [Mandel]’s doing a fine, serviceable job. Why don’t they change him? And why don’t they change Simon?”
Stern went on to call production of the show “the ultimate example of a boys’ club.”
TooFab has reached out to Cowell regarding Stern’s comments.
Last week, it was reported that the ladies were let go after a single season of being judges for speaking out against the “toxic culture” on set.
According to media reports, Union was deemed “difficult” because she brought up concerns over an alleged racist joke Jay Leno told on camera, would ask performers in drag their preferred pronoun, and even called out Cowell for smoking inside the building. Union and Hough were reportedly also scrutinized for their physical appearances, with Union reportedly receiving half a dozen notes across the season that her changing hairstyles were “too black” for “AGT” audiences.
Initially, NBC and show producer Fremantle insisted that any on-set issues were always taken seriously and that panel rotation was just part of the show’s natural cycle, but on Sunday, they issued a new statement.
“We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture,” the statement read. “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.”
Since the bombshell controversy began making headlines, many A-listers — including Ariana Grande, Ellen Pompeo, Lin Manuel-Miranda and Union’s husband, Dwyane Wade — have taken to social media to bash the network and/or offer their support to Union.
Patricia Arquette also called for SAG-AFTRA to launch an investigation into the reasoning behind Union’s firing, while Time’s Up — the woman’s advocacy group that formed after the #MeToo movement rocked Hollywood — also issued a statement.
“Gabrielle Union’s experience at ‘America’s Got Talent’ is exemplary of the double bind that black women face at work,” said newly appointed Time’s Up CEO Tina Tchen. “Not only did Union reportedly endure and witness racist and inappropriate behavior — including racially-insensitive comments and excessive criticism about her physical appearance — but it also appears she was punished for speaking out: the company labeled her as ‘difficult’ before ousting her from the show altogether.”
“Union’s story is deeply troubling on its own, but her experience is particularly problematic because it follows a pattern of NBCUniversal protecting the careers of powerful men at the expense of women who speak out,” she went on. “Union’s experience shows that NBCUniversal still has a lot of work to do to change its culture so discrimination, harassment, and retaliation are no longer tolerated at the company. Building a culture of safety and equity requires continuous, intentional work sustained over a long period of time — even when a company isn’t in the throes of a crisis. Ensuring people of all kinds are respected and supported at work is critical for any company, but especially a media company like NBC that has such an outsized influence in our culture and in our lives.”
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