Former “America’s Got Talent” judge Heidi Klum weighed in on the controversy surrounding the NBC competition show following Gabrielle Union’s departure, saying she “only had an amazing experience” during her six years on the show.
“I’ve only had an amazing experience,” she told reporters following Tuesday at the Television Critics Association press tour. Klum was on hand in Pasadena for her new Amazon series with Tim Gunn, “Making the Cut.”
“I can’t speak for her,” the model turned host said. “I didn’t experience the same thing. To me, everyone treats you with utmost respect.” Klum departed “AGT” following Season 13. Union joined in Season 14.
News first broke on Nov. 22 that Union and Julianne 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 detailing 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.
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.” On Saturday, NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy said the results from NBC’s investigation into the matter would be available by the end of January.
On Tuesday, Klum added that she never saw or experienced anything racist or “boys club-y,” and that producers never interfered with how she dressed.
“I loved it. Of course, there’s always this cat and dog fight. But just fun. You kind of say something silly. Also, it’s like, you got to relax a little bit,” she said. “I want to entertain people. I want to have a good time. I want people to go away from their life for a few hours and just have fun and enjoy.”
Klum then described how Cowell would “meow” to mimic a catfight if she didn’t like a particular act from a female contestant, as a way to show how he had a sense of humor.
“For example, Simon would do something, like, if there was a girl on stage and she’s a beautiful girl, but I didn’t like her act, for example. And I said: ‘I didn’t love the act so much, I think you’re gorgeous,’ and this and that, and he would be like [catfight noise], he’s meowing. I think that’s funny because I understand the joke,” she said. “But like, relax, it’s a joke.”
Klum is currently a judge on “America’s Got Talent: The Champions,” which currently airs Mondays on NBC.