Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough joined the show in Season 14. Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel and Terry Crews are expected to return, Variety reported. USA TODAY
More stars who have been involved in “America’s Got Talent” are responding to Gabrielle Union’s controversial exit from the show, including Jay Leno and Sharon Osbourne.
“I love Gabrielle Union, she’s a great girl. I really enjoyed working with her,” Leno told aTMZpaparazzo, before adding “I don’t know” if she was treated fairly on the NBC competition show.
A report last week from Varietydescribed a “toxic culture” on the set of “America’s Got Talent “after news that Union and fellow judge Julianne Hough would not be returning to the reality competition for a second year.
Variety alleged racist jokes and “excessive notes” about physical appearance were pervasive before the two freshman judges’ contracts were not renewed.
Leno, a Season 14 guest judge, was mentioned in the Variety report and was pressed by the paparazzo about a joke he reportedly made during a taping.
“I can’t,” Leno said when asked to comment on the specifics, adding sarcastically that “this is the place to discuss it on the street with traffic going by.”
Union hasn’t addressed the controver sy directly, but in her first tweet since the controversy unfolded, she thanked fans for support.
“So many tears, so much gratitude,” she tweeted Wednesday night. “THANK YOU! Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone … you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever.”
In a joint statement, NBC and production company Fremantle and Cowell’s entertainment company, Syco, said the companies were working with Union’s representatives to hear more about her concerns and determine the appropriate next steps.
Meanwhile, former judge Sharon Osbourne also weighed in on the scandal during Monday’s “The Talk,” revealing she had her “own problems” with the show’s network before her exit in 2012.
“It’s hard, because everybody’s experience on a show is different, and I was at that show for six years. I didn’t get let go. However, I left. And that’s the truth. I left because of NBC, not because of the show, “she said.
She continued, “I don’t know about any of her concerns about the show. Obviously, there wasn’t anybody of color on the panel when I was there, so I honestly can’t say … But when I was there it was, you know, a great show to work on. The crew and everybody was amazing to me, everybody, except the network. “
In the wake of the news surrounding Hough and Union’s exits,SAG-AFTRA is investigating the situation
In a written statement sent to USA TODAY by Pamela Greenwalt, a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson , the organization said it takes issues of “workplace health and safety very seriously.”
Contributing: Hannah Yasharoff
Heads up, ‘America’s Got Talent ‘fans:Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough will not return to show, reports say
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