As previously reported, Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough were fired from America’s Got Talent, and since then, there have been reports that the show had a “toxic culture.”
Variety specifically has details on an incident that happened while Union was on the show that added to the drama. They explain that Jay Leno visited the show last season to film a segment. Insiders tell Variety, “While taping, Leno made a crack about a painting on display in a hallway of Simon Cowell, the show’s executive producer and judge, surrounded by his dogs. Leno joked that the pets looked like something one would find ‘on the menu at a Korean restaurant.'”
Several employees of the show, including Gabrielle Union, found the joke offensive because it “was viewed as perpetuating stereotypes about Asian cultures consuming dog meat.” She reported the incident to human resources at ABC, and the line was cut from the August 6 episode.
Now Jay Leno is speaking out about the firing and Gabrielle. According to TMZ, “On his way out of the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, CA, Jay would only say he enjoyed working with Gabrielle, and she’s a ‘great girl.'” They add that when he was asked about the racist incident, he pleaded the fifth. Union and Leno had previously met; she had been a guest on The Tonight Show when he was a host.
SAG-AFTRA (the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the labor union representing actors and media professionals) is currently investigating the situation.