Howard Stern says Simon Cowell is to blame for Gabrielle Union’s ‘America’s Got Talent’ exit

(L-R): Howard Stern and Simon Cowell. Getty Images

Howard Stern spoke out against Simon Cowell following Gabrielle Union’s exit from America’s Got Talent (AGT).

During his SiriusXM show on Monday, Stern, a former AGT judge, accused Cowell of having “orchestrated” Union’s departure from the show.

Click to play video: 'New report says Simon Cowell’s smoking among reasons for clash with Gabrielle Union on ‘AGT’'
New report says Simon Cowell’s smoking among reasons for clash with Gabrielle Union on ‘AGT’

“How is it that Simon Cowell has orchestrated this?” the radio personality said. “He sets it up that the men stay, no matter how ugly they are, no matter how old they are, no matter how fat they are, no matter how talentless they are.

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READ MORE: Simon Cowell’s smoking caused clash with Gabrielle Union on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ report says

“But what he manages to do on all his shows is he constantly replaces the hot chicks with hotter chicks and younger chicks, which is obvious.

“(Howie Mandel is) doing a fine, serviceable job — why don’t they change him? And why don’t they change Simon? … This is the ultimate example of a boys’ club.”

Stern was a judge on AGT for four seasons before leaving in 2015. Mandel, who joined the show in 2010 for Season 5, is currently the longest-serving judge.

Piers Morgan was on AGT as a judge from Season 1 through Season 6 and David Hasselhoff served as a judge from seasons 1 to 4.

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Spice Girl Mel B and Heidi Klum served as judges with Mandel and Cowell from seasons 8 to 13. Singer Brandy Norwood exited the show after its first season and Sharon Osbourne was a judge on AGT from Season 2 through Season 7.

Cowell and Mandel will return as judges for the upcoming Season 15. Cowell, who is also AGT‘s creator, joined the series as a judge in Season 11.

READ MORE: Report alleges ‘toxic culture’ on set of ‘America’s Got Talent’

In late November, it was announced that Union and Julianne Hough would not be returning to AGT next season. Days later, Variety published a report claiming there was a “toxic culture” on the set of  AGT.

According to Variety’s report, Union had concerns over offensive incidents that happened on set.

The report alleged that both judges were subject to “excessive notes” about physical appearance and claimed that AGT had a culture of toxic, racist jokes.

Variety also quoted multiple unnamed sources saying Union was told several times that her hairstyles were “too black” for the competition show.

READ MORE: Celebrities rally around Gabrielle Union following ‘America’s Got Talent’ exit

The article also claimed that Union expressed concerns over an incident during auditions in which she believed a white male performer crossed a line in portraying people of colour.

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The report also claimed that Union had expressed concerns over racially insensitive situations during her time on the show, including a joke made by guest judge Jay Leno in April of this year that was later edited out of the show.

According to Variety, Leno made a joke about a painting on the wall that featured Cowell surrounded by his dogs.

Sources told the outlet that Leno allegedly made a joke that the dogs looked like something one would find “on the menu at a Korean restaurant.”

Multiple people on set were upset by the joke, Variety reports, and Union reportedly urged producers to report the joke to the human resources department.

On Monday, Stern said that Union should let Leno “live in peace.”

“Let’s go on record as telling people that one million dogs are still eaten annually in South Korea, and if Gabrielle Union wants to effect positive change, maybe focus on the horrors of Korean dog farms and let the old irrelevant comic live in peace,” he said. “She wants Jay beaten in the streets. I think maybe Jay makes a point.”

On Sunday, Union quoted a tweet that outlines the three steps in “a solid apology.”

“This! This! And THIIISSSSSSS!!!!!!,” Union added.

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READ MORE: Gabrielle Union’s ‘America’s Got Talent’ exit now under investigation by SAG-AFTRA

Stern’s comments come after the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) launched an investigation into the claims of a “toxic culture” on the set of the talent show.

“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,” a spokesperson for the performers’ union said in a statement to Variety on Sunday night.

“It is our practice to work closely with members who reach out to us and their representatives in instances like this, as that usually affords the best protection and best resolution for the affected member.

“For certain matters, our investigation and enforcement needs to happen independently and we are prepared to handle this issue accordingly, as warranted. Our enforcement action is usually handled confidentially to protect the member involved, and we typically do not publicize these matters unless the member requests that we do so.

“While we have taken steps to investigate this matter, we have nothing to report now.”

READ MORE: ‘America’s Got Talent’ — Season 14 winner crowned in emotional finale

On Sunday, a joint statement was released from NBC, FremantleMedia, which produces the show, and Cowell’s entertainment company Syco regarding Union.

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“We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture,” the groups’ statement read.

“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.”

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