As entertainment and media figures continue to react to the ouster of “America’s Got Talent” judge Gabrielle Union, former cast member Sharon Osbourne weighed in on Tuesday with her own experience on the show.
The reality star and rock matriarch addressed the panel of her syndicated daytime series “The Talk” where, in her notoriously candid fashion, she called “AGT” a “boys’ club,” and said the men of the series enjoyed privileges she did not not.
“I’m going to be truthful. It is a boys’ club,” Osbourne said. “The boys take care of each other and the women are not paid as much as the men.” It was unclear if she was referring to her own salary or speaking of the series overall. Osbourne was a judge on the show from 2007-2012, predating Simon Cowell’s tenure.
Cowell owns the “Got Talent” format, one that scours the country for performers of all stripes to compete for a $1 million prize. For the seasons she filmed, according to one insider with knowledge of the production, Osbourne was compensated well and on par with her fellow panelists. NBC had no comment on the matter.
Osbourne recalled when current judge Howie Mandel was hired and offered a private plane, while she was expected to fly commercial to various live auditions around the U.S. After she helped build the franchise to a 16-million viewer event, Osbourne said, the comic came on board and was given better perks.
“I don’t begrudge anyone earning what they earn, good for you, god bless you. But when my old ass has been there moving the show? And I get an American Airlines ticket and he’s in a private plane?” Osbourne continued.
Fellow panelist Carrie Ann Inaba read a statement issued by NBC and the show’s producers, which Variety previously reported, saying the production prided itself on diversity and inclusion, and took on-set complaints seriously. Osbourne concluded: “NBC can kiss my ass.”
Organizations like Time’s Up, and stars like Ellen Pompeo, Patricia Arquette and Ariana Grande have all come forward in support of Union — who, according to multiple sources, took issue with racial insensitivities during her time as a host. Others told Variety that she and fellow judge Julianne Hough, also dismissed in November, were subjected to incessant notes about their physical appearance. A report in Vulture said Cowell insisted on smoking indoors throughout the shoot, causing Union, who is allergic to tobacco smoke, to get ill.
NBC and producers released a statement over Thanksgiving weekend on their intent to investigate these matters. Union and her team will meet this week with production and an independent counselor hired to gather facts on the matter.