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SAG-AFTRA Expands ‘America’s Got Talent’ Fremantle Investigation After Orlando Jones’ Ouster From ‘American Gods’

Fremantle to cooperate, says allegations should not be 'unchecked'

Orlando JonesStarz 'American Gods' TV Show
David Buchan/Variety/Shutterstoc

SAG-AFTRA is expanding its probe into the firing of “America’s Got Talent” host Gabrielle Union to include a deeper look at FremantleMedia, producer of NBC’s competition show. The move comes after Orlando Jones claimed that his firing from the Starz drama series “American Gods,” another Fremantle production, was racially motivated.

“After initial meetings with Gabrielle Union and her representatives about her experiences on America’s Got Talent, and after learning more about Orlando Jones’s experience on American Gods, SAG-AFTRA is expanding its investigation of Fremantle Media,” the union said in a statement. “Our enforcement actions are handled confidentially to protect the members involved, and we typically do not publicize these matters unless the affected members request that we do so. We have nothing further to report at this time.”

Fremantle said it would cooperate with SAG-AFTRA’s effort.

“We welcome this investigation and intend to cooperate fully. Allegations without factual support should not go unchecked,” the company said in a statement. “We have already informed SAG-AFTRA that we are willing to meet to discuss the allegations.”

 

SAG-AFTRA initiated a probe of Union’s exit from “America’s Got Talent” on Dec. 1 after the former judge went public with accusations that she faced racial and gender discrimination during her time on the show, and that producers and NBC failed to act on her complaints.

SAG-AFTRA is the largest union for talent, representing some 160,000 actors, journalists, radio personalities, singers, and media professionals. Variety broke the news that Union was let go from the NBC competition series in November after the actress spoke to producers about the alleged workplace toxicity she endured and witnessed as a judge on the recent 14th season of the show.

In December, Jones posted a video on Twitter indirectly blaming “American Gods” showrunner Charles “Chic” Eglee for firing him. In an interview with Variety, Jones said, “At some point I gotta say something. So I just repeated what they had said. All I can say is what I was told. And all what I was told was, ‘angry gets s— done’ is the wrong message for black America, and that the new showrunner [Chic Eglee] writes from a black male perspective.”

Fremantle is a London-based unit of German TV giant RTL Group.