A former judge on “America’s Got Talent,” Stern slammed Cowell and said he “orchestrated” the situation that saw NBC releasing judges Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough from their contracts after the most recent season wrapped.
“How is it that Simon Cowell has orchestrated this?” Stern said Monday on his SiriusXM radio show.
“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 continued on “The Howard Stern Show,” later adding that it’s “obvious” that “AGT” continuously switches out female judges for “hotter chicks and younger chicks.”
Stern served as a judge on “America’s Got Talent” for four seasons from 2012 though 2015. Howie Mandel is the longest-serving judge, having joined in 2010. Mel B and Heidi Klum most recently served as judges with Mandel and Cowell from Season 8 through Season 13 before they departed and Union and Hough joined for Season 14.
Following Variety‘s exclusive news that Union and Hough would not be asked back for the next season and subsequent reports of toxic culture, “America’s Got Talent” has been subject to widespread criticism. Per Variety‘s report, Union approached producers about speaking with human resources about a joke made by guest judge Jay Leno that offended staffers of Asian descent. Sources claim that Hough and Union were given excessive notes on their physical appearance with criticism about their hair, makeup and wardrobe. Union, sources say, was repeatedly told that her hairstyles were “too black” for the show’s audience.
Many A-listers have bashed NBC for not asking Union to return after she reportedly made a string of complaints regarding racial insensitivities on set. Ariana Grande, Ellen Pompeo, Lin Manuel-Miranda and Union’s husband, Dwyane Wade, have publicly supported Union, while Oscar-winner Patricia Arquette called for SAG-AFTRA to investigate the escalating situation. The women’s advocacy group Time’s Up has also made a statement.
This past weekend, SAG-AFTRA confirmed that the union has launched an investigation into the reasoning behind Union’s firing, telling Variety in a statement, “While we have taken steps to investigate this matter, we have nothing to report now.”
NBC broke its silence over Thanksgiving weekend, issuing a statement on Sunday saying the network is “working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns.”