The results of NBC’s investigation into “America’s Got Talent,” prompted by the criticisms of ousted judge Gabrielle Union, should be available “by the end of January,” NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy told reporters during his executive session at the Television Critics Association press tour Saturday.
“We proudly embrace making shows better,” Telegdy told TheWrap, when asked about the current status of the investigation. “What we also proudly embrace at NBC Entertainment is the notion that we could always be a better workplace. So, what we are is in the middle of an investigation — and that’s really serious, I can’t deny that, I’ve never had one before. And that’s being handled by lawyers. And I’ve been in this business, I’m telling you… I’ve yet to be in a deposition here in the United States, that’s an open season for something to happen.”
“And that’s because when lawyers send me letters, I really pay attention…,” he continued. “That’s when I put the breaks on and say I can’t say anything else while we do this very serious investigation. We’re very confident if we learn something… we’ll put new practices in place, if necessary, and we certainly take anyone’s critique of what it means to come to work here, incredibly seriously.”
When TheWrap asked Telegdy where NBC is currently at in terms of filling the open “AGT” judges’ seats, which were occupied by the ousted Union and Julianne Hough, and if Sofia Vergara — who recently met with “AGT” producer Fremantle and NBC to discuss the position — is being considered for one of them, he did not give a definitive answer, though he noted that “inclusion” and “diversity” are important in the selection process and both are “taken incredibly seriously.”
The Wrap also asked the NBC chief if he think Union would be open to coming back in a future season, depending on the results of the investigation, to which he said: “Again, I feel like what I can say authentically is, I can’t say anything that could impact on an investigation. But people are talking to each other. And that’s not no comment… I just can’t talk about it.”
News first broke on Nov. 22 that Union and Hough would not return for the show’s 15th season next year. It was later reported that Union’s contract was not renewed, with multiple reports describing behind-the-scenes clashes between Union and the show’s producers over what was described as a “toxic” workplace culture.
Many rushed to Union’s defense after reports about her complaints began to surface, including former “AGT” judges Howard Stern and Sharon Osbourne. Both spoke out against the “boys’ club” environment on the show, which they said was facilitated by executive producer-turned-judge Simon Cowell. And Time’s Up President and CEO Tina Tchen publicly called on NBCUniversal to “change its culture so discrimination, harassment, and retaliation are no longer tolerated at the company.”
On Dec. 1, NBC and “America’s Got Talent” producers Fremantle and Syco said in a statement that they planned to meet with Union to hear her “concerns” about the “workplace culture” on the show following her dismissal and subsequent criticism of the environment she left behind.
On Dec. 4, Union tweeted about the sitdown, which she described as a “productive” five-hour meeting about her “desire and hope for real change.”
“We had a lengthy 5-hour, and what I thought to be, productive meeting yesterday,” the former “America’s Got Talent” judge wrote. “I was able to, again, express my unfiltered truth. I led with transparency and my desire and hope for real change.”
“The initial conversation was candid and productive,” NBC said in its own statement about the meeting. “While there will be a further investigation to get a deeper understanding of the facts, we are working with Gabrielle to come to a positive resolution.”
Hough issued her own statement following her ousting: “I had a wonderful time on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ I loved working with the cast, crew and producers. I am happy to continue my working relationship with NBC.”
Later, in an interview with People, Hough added, “I just believe and value, at the highest regard, that everybody has a voice and should be heard, first and foremost. And then I believe that the paradigm of the workplace and how you do business and work with people now, it’s shifting, and I think that the people that really want to see change happen are going to authentically and positively and integrally do that. And so that’s all I really have to say about that.”