In response to the allegations that Gabrielle Union’s firing from America’s Got Talent was a retaliatory strike following her complaints about inappropriate, racist jokes, ill-directed critiques about her hair, and general, behind-the-scenes culture issues, Simon Cowell’s company, Syco Entertainment said, “We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture.” They furthered that they “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.”
The statement, while well-worded, nearly made my head explode. For starters, Syco Entertainment is the same production company on X Factor, which up until this month, employed Louis Walsh. Walsh is the same man who openly grabbed Mel B.’s ass – without her consent – on national television. The clip is so disturbing I have not been able to quiet my rage for years. The fact that Walsh kept his job following the public groping is reprehensible and it is therefore not surprising that the show would be caught up in this. I need not also point out that NBC is the same network that squashed Ronan Farrow’s Harvey Weinstein story.
As for Julianne Hough, she’s not getting involved (and she shouldn’t have to despite Ellen Pompeo’s veiled insistence otherwise), saying, “I had a wonderful time on America’s Got Talent. I loved working with the cast, crew and producers.” This is the series’ responsibility to handle. There is power in numbers, and it’s wonderful when women stand together, but there’s also power when POWERFUL people stand up for their talent. Hopefully that happens here.