- SAG-AFTRA, a labor union representing actors, has launched a probe into Gabrielle Union’s complaints while on the set of America’s Got Talent, as well as her subsequent removal from the show.
- Reports say that Union urged producers to report a racist joke made by Jay Leno to HR, tried to prevent a racially insensitive act from performing, was told her hairstyles were “too black,” and was vocal about other issues with the show and the culture it created.
- The show opted to not continue with Union’s contract, ending her arc as a judge after just one season.
SAG-AFTRA Probe Launched
The Screen Actors Guild announced that it is investigating the controversies surrounding Gabrielle Union, NBC, and America’s Got Talent.
Last week, it was revealed that Union was let go after appearing as a judge for one season. Reports from Variety and Vulture soon followed saying that Union was frequently vocal about addressing issues on set. She allegedly encouraged producers to report a joke many found racist, and tried to remove a performer whose act she found racially insensitive. According to Vulture, her complaints were among the reasons NBC’s America’s Got Talent decided to drop her.
“We take issues of workplace health and safety very seriously. We immediately reached out to Ms. Union’s representatives when these reports came to light,” SAG-AFTRA said in a statement published in full by Deadline on Sunday. “While we have taken steps to investigate this matter, we have nothing to report now.”
Deadline’s report said that the investigations are still in their early stages. Their source, however, acknowledged that this investigation is “a high profile and probably high wire act.”
SAG-AFTRA’s announcement came just hours after NBC published a statement of their own regarding the matter. The network claimed to be working with Union’s team to address her concerns.
“We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture,” their statement said. “We 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.”
In what many saw as a response to NBC, Union shared a tweet that gave instructions on how to form a proper apology.
Complaints in Variety Report
Union’s concerns painted the image of a toxic culture at America’s Got Talent. First unraveled in a report from Variety, it appeared that Union was seeking solutions to these issues to no response.
One incident involved a joke made by comedian Jay Leno, who was a guest judge in one episode. Four people told Variety that while taping, he pointed to a photo of America’s Got Talent’s producer and judge Simon Cowell surrounded by his dogs. He said it looked like something “on the menu at a Korean restaurant.”
Some of the workers at America’s Got Talent found this joke to be offensive to Asian cultures, with the report also noting that one of the show’s few Asian staffers was present at the time.
Union allegedly encouraged producers and an NBC executive to report the joke to Human Resources, but nothing ever came of it. The joke did not make it into the episode.
In another case, while taping auditions, one white contestant did rapid costume changes as he impersonated celebrities. While performing as Beyonce, his “hands appeared black.” Finding this racially insensitive, Union tried to convince producers to take him off the line-up, saying the live audience should not have to see this. They disagreed and sent him on stage, though he did not appear on television.
Variety’s report also said that Union and Julianne Hough, who was brought on to judge at the same time as Union and was also let go from the upcoming season, received constant notes about their appearances, hair, and makeup.
Union was reportedly told several times that her rotating hairstyles were “too black” for America’s Got Talent’s audience. One executive disputed this claim to Variety, saying notes on appearance were not given that frequently and only once were judges given notes on “hair continuity.”
Hough, who has a few projects with NBC in the near future, said she had a positive experience on America’s Got Talent and, “loved working with the cast, crew and producers.”
“I am happy to continue my working relationship with NBC. I’m looking forward to what the future holds,” she added.
Vulture Report Includes More Complaints
A few days after Variety’s report went out, a second report from Vulture was published, also laden with riffs between Union and producers. Union, who is allergic to cigarette smoke, complained to staff about Cowell’s habit of smoking inside the theatre, which had only separation curtains and no walls. Even though California law prevents an employer from allowing indoor smoking, producers insisted nothing could be done about Cowell’s smoking. He had reportedly been doing it for years despite complaints, including ones from NBC executives and a fire marshal.
Producers were also said to have been irritated by Union asking contestants who were competing in drag for their preferred pronouns.
Vulture said a boiling point was reached when Union and producers were discussing contestants they wanted to see continue on the show, including a ten-year-old black rapper whom Union found exciting. The producers, however, told Union that the show needed to pick an act “that America can get behind.” They suggested a dance troupe from Texas that consisted of white performers.
Vulture said that Union “Felt producers were implying that American audiences couldn’t get behind a 10-year-old black rapper, a viewpoint she felt was racist.”
After Union was working on the show for two months, Cowell allegedly sat her down and said that if she had any concerns, she should bring them up with him and not NBC executives, which Union thought was odd, and looked like he was trying to cover things up. Vulture’s report also included sources who said that Union frustrated Cowell and that she was let go from the show for being “difficult.”
NBC explained their reasoning for letting go of Union and Hough in Variety’s initial report.
“‘America’s Got Talent’ has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show,” they said. “The judging and host line-up has been regularly refreshed over the years and that is one of the reasons for AGT’s enduring popularity. NBC and the producers take any issues on set seriously.”
Celebrities Stand With Union
Many celebrities spoke up to defend Union and call out NBC for not taking action.
“It’s unfortunate that @nbc the same network that protected disgusting men like Matt Lauer and punished women for speaking out or not putting up with it…has not changed their practices or culture,” Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo said.
Popstar Ariana Grande shared more of Pompeo’s remarks and told NBC to “be better.”
Jameela Jamil, an actress on NBC’s The Good Place said Union should be brought back to America’s Got Talent.
Ethan Klein Accused of Racism and Homophobia after Calling K-pop a “Little Twink, Gay Fetish”
- Ethan Klein of h3h3 Productions referred to BTS and other K-pop stars as part of a “little twink, gay fetish” in a recent podcast.
- Klein also made sexually obscene comments involving K-pop’s young female fans.
- Soon after, #h3h3IsOverParty trended on Twitter, with many calling his comments both homophobic and racist.
- Klein then doubled down on Twitter, telling K-pop fans to “lighten up” while also accusing them of being responsible for a recent wave of K-pop star suicides.
Klein Calls K-pop a “Twink, Gay Fetish”
After insulting K-pop by calling it a “little twink, gay fetish,” Ethan Klein is being accused of making both racist and homophobic comments.
In a podcast posted to their channel on Saturday, Klein and his wife Hila were breaking down YouTube’s 2019 Rewind. Klein’s comments came when the video showed mega-successful band BTS as having the second most-liked music video on the platform for 2019.
“I don’t get the BTS thing,” Klein said just before the podcast’s 26:00 minute mark. “I’m just going to say it right now, I don’t like K-pop. I hate K-pop. I don’t get BTS. How did this become a thing in Western culture, where all these grown men and little girls are jerking off to K-pop boys? It’s like a little fetish. It’s like a little twink, gay fetish about these K-pop boys.”
The next day, #h3h3IsOverParty started trending on Twitter, where many people criticized Klein’s comments. The backlash did not come as a surprise to Klein, who joked about being “assassinated” by K-pop fans in the podcast.
Twitter users also began uncovering and sharing other, older podcasts, where Klein used both racist and homophobic slurs back to back.
“I love that I can just say [n-word] [f-word], though,” Klein said in one podcast. “Like how could— I couldn’t really say that, [n-word] [f-word]. So wonderful.”
Klein Called Out for “Homophobic” and “Racist” Comments
With Klein’s most recent comments regarding K-pop, however, many denounced his speech as racist and homophobic. Other critics also condemned Klein’s mention of sexually obscene comments regarding K-pop’s young female fans.
“it doesn’t matter if you don’t like kpop, you’re entitled to ur opinions,” one user wrote. “it DOES matter when grown ass adults with a platform are sexualising an entire industry and calling it porn for underage girls and perverts? how do people not understand how gross that is ?? #h3h3isoverparty”
However, some people defended Klein, arguing that some K-pop fans promote the idea of fetishizing Asian men and that Klein was simply making an over-the-top joke.
Klein Doubles Down on Comments
Klein responded to the backlash on Sunday evening in a series of posts, where he joked about making the trending list and told K-pop fans to “lighten up” before making a further sexually obscene comment.
Klein, however, faced another controversy when he said K-pop fans “are responsible for dozens of suicides of K-pop idols because of their online abuse.”
Klein’s comment seemingly refers to a recent wave of suicides among popular Korean icons, such as Sulli, a K-pop star and actress who died in October, whose death was reportedly linked to cyberbullying. In November, another K-pop star, Goo Hara, also committed suicide after people online harassed her following the news that her boyfriend threatened to post an illegal sex tape of her.
Experts, however, have said that no single answer can explain the larger phenomenon of these deaths, with those experts also citing South Korea’s conservative society and the immense pressure K-pop stars face from fans and industry executives.
On Twitter, many then pushed back against Klein’s claim.
As the situation unfolded, Klein’s wife Hila responded by asking if she was also canceled, with Klein saying he was taking her down with him.
Later, Pewdiepie, possibly poking fun at the situation, tweeted his reaction.
“Fucking POS YOURE TRASH!” he said. “Speak bad of kpop and bts again and army will WALK ALL OVER YOU! @h3h3productions #h3h3isoverparty”
Bill Nye’s $28M Lawsuit Against Disney Headed to Trial
- Bill Nye will take Disney to trial under allegations that the company shortchanged him and his partners $28 million for his 1990s television series.
- The “Science Guy” claims that he is personally owed at least $9.4 million.
- Nye filed a complaint in 2017 and a Los Angeles judge just ruled that the case will go to trial.
- The trial will take place in May 2020 over a span of 10 days, according to the ruling.
Judge Gives Green Light
Bill Nye, popularly known as the “Science Guy,” has been granted permission to take his case against the Walt Disney Company to trial.
Nye alleges that Disney failed to pay him and his partners $28.1 million in revenue from his hit 1990s television show, “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” He claims he alone is owed at least $9.4 million.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled on Thursday that a 10-day trial will occur in May 2020 to address the allegations.
The television personality filed suit in 2017, questioning Disney’s Buena Vista Television, who handled the accounting.
According to the complaint, Buena Vista Television came to a written agreement with Nye and the other owners of the show in which they agreed to “promote, market, and distribute the show.” Nye and his partners said that under this deal they were entitled to 50% of the net profit, but were shortchanged.
Nye said he became suspicious of the accuracy of his paychecks after Disney claimed they made an “accounting error” in 2008. At that time, the company insisted that he repay them thousands of dollars that they had sent him a few months earlier.
“Bill Nye the Science Guy” ran on PBS for five seasons between 1993-1998 and was screened in classrooms nationwide for educational purposes.
See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Fox News) (Hollywood Reporter)
Cardi B Defends Offset From Cheating Accusations Citing Alleged Instagram Hack
- Sarah “Jade” Wattley, the girlfriend of rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine, recently showed a flirty DM sent to her from Migos Rapper Offset’s Instagram account.
- Soon after, Offset and his wife, rap superstar Cardi B, brushed off the rumors and explained that his account had been hacked.
- It is unclear at this time if authorities have been contacted over the issue, but as of now, no person has been named responsible for the hack.
Flirty DM Surfaces
Rapper Cardi B defended her husband Offset from cheating allegations Tuesday saying that a message he allegedly sent to another woman was actually the work of a hacker.
The Migos rapper was recently accused of flirting with Sarah “Jade” Wattley, the girlfriend of rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine.
In a video recently posted on Jade’s Instagram account, she recorded herself opening a direct message from Offet’s verified account. The message, sent at 1:36 a.m. read: “Miss u fr.”
In the caption of her now-deleted post, Jade slammed Offset for the DM, saying: “Your wife @iamcardib has a OPEN CRIMINAL CASE , why are you writing me you don’t respect her ??????? Theirs a lot of s— I haven’t exposed yet , but there’s a time for that 😭😭😭🌈 I’m the QUEEN 👑 of talking s— now I’m backing it up 🎼😂🤡.”
The message sparked a wave of backlash from fans who noted that Cardi and Offset had already reconciled their marriage after previous reports of Offset cheating. On top of that, Cardi and Jade and known to have a tense history with one another.
Earlier this year, Cardi was indicted on 14 charges, including two counts of felony assault with the intent to cause injury after she was accused of ordering an attack on Jade and another bartender at a New York Strip club last year.
Some reports indicate that the attack stemmed from rumors that Jade had slept with Offset, though Jade has denied having any relationship with him several times. Another rumor suggests that the fight was prompted by a “drink being spilled on Cardi, whose actions have been described as ‘spontaneous and completely unpremeditated,’” the Daily Mail reports.
Cardi Defends Offset
Cardi quickly defended her husband against cheating rumors, saying that his account was hacked.
In a video posted on her social media, Cardi explains that they were woken up with news of the hack. In the background, another person is shown trying to regain access to Offert’s account.
“Babe, I know you done some dumb s—, everybody know he’s done some dumb s—, but c’mon, n—s ain’t dumb, n—s ain’t crazy,” she said. “We’ve been so good, we had a sweet weekend, life has been good,” Cardi added. “That’s why I ain’t getting no rowdy. Simple as that. Okay, love you guys.”
In additional videos, Offset explained that his email had been compromised, giving his hacker access to his account. He said he’s been dealing with this issue for months and has also had unreleased songs leaked because of it.
Interset users also posted screenshots of tweets sent from his official account that seem to signal a potential hack.
Still Jade hit back at the hacker claims saying, ‘the hack started after you got exposed.” “Why it didn’t start at 1 am,” she added.
If Offset and Cardi’s claims are true, it is unclear at this time if authorities have been contacted over the issue. As of now, no person has been named responsible for the hack. However, celebrity social media hacks are by no means uncommon and have been known to even impact major executives, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.