America’s Got Talent: Why Gabrielle Union Was Fired – More Reports!

AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- "Auditions 2" Episode 1402 -- Pictured: (l-r) Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)
AMERICA’S GOT TALENT — Pictured: (l-r) Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

Simon Cowell and and America’s Got Talent are neck deep in hot water right now. Earlier this week, Variety dropped bombshell news that Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough were fired from AGT for being “difficult.” Gabrielle, in particular, had a beef with former Tonight Show host Jay Leno, who served as a guest judge during the Judge Cuts round. When he dropped a controversial joke stereotyping Asians, she wanted to go to Human Resources, but higher ups did not take her seriously.

If y’all thought that Variety report was problematic, now New York Magazine has more sordid reports from backstage America’s Got Talent sources:

  • Two months into her tenure as judge, Gabrielle had a tense meeting with Simon. He asked her to bring ANY problems or issues with him directly. Don’t talk to NBC, he said. The directive had Gabrielle wondering if he was attempting to cover up major issues. 
  • Gabrielle learned last Friday (Nov 22) that Simon and NBC fired her. She and Julianne signed 3 year contracts. A source says  Simon and his team of producers fired because they found her to be too “difficult.”
  • Simon smoked in his dressing room. The Pasadena theater where they film AGT had makeshift dressing rooms made of pipes and fabric. Gabrielle is allergic to cigarette smoke. When she asked staff members to request Simon stop smoking inside, they claimed they tried in the past to get him to stop smoking inside, but to no avail. Even a visit from the fire marshall didn’t help (It’s illegal to smoke in enclosed public workspaces in California). 
  • Simon has total control over the show. The network makes no decisions without his approval. 
  • Gabrielle complained after an Italian contestant slipped on black gloves to impersonate Beyonce. She called them “blackface hands.” She voted to eliminate the contestant. The segment never aired. 
  • Gabrielle annoyed producers when she asked drag performers which pronouns they preferred. 
  • Tensions hit an “irrevocable high” over 10 year old black rapper, Dylan Gilmer. In a production meeting for the Judge Cuts 1 episode, producers told Gabrielle that she  needed to pick an artist that “America can get behind.” Producers preferred the Emerald Belles, a white dance troupe from Texas. Gabrielle was frustrated. She felt the producers were implying that the audience wouldn’t back a 10 year old black rapper, a notion she found racist. Also, she felt that the studio audience clearly prefered Dylan. Producers decided to eliminate the young rapper anyway. Gabrielle was so angry, she went outside to get fresh air. She returned 5 minutes later to an angry Simon. He said if it was that important to her, he’d save Dylan. But he delivered the message in a “hostile and aggressive manner.” Gabrielle had enough. (In the episode, it was Julianne and Howie Mandel who expressed skepticism over the Belles, while Gabrielle said they were worth fighting for.)
  • The situation was so tense, Simon and his agents at CAA, who also represent Gabrielle, pushed for a private meeting. She and her manager met Simon at his home last May. 
  • Gabrielle is now exploring her legal options against the network according to sources close to her. 

Both former judges received a ton of critiques on how they dressed and looked. According to Variety sources, Producers gave Gabrielle many notes on her appearance, specifically about her rotating hair styles being “too black” for the audience of AGT.  Sources Julianne felt demoralized by the critques. But she subsequently released a statement to Variety that stated she had a “wonderful time on America’s Got Talent” and that she enjoyed working with the cast. She also thanked thanked the network–It’s worth noting that the singer/dancer still has a relationship with NBC. She’s been in show business since she was a kid, and has likely grown accustomed to brushing off slights. 

But not Gabrielle–not only is she a formidable actress, entertainer and producer. She’s going to stand up for herself and her community. On Twitter, Gabrielle thanked her fans. “So many tears, so much gratitude. THANK YOU!,” wrote Gabrielle. “Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone… you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever”

Gabrielle’s husband, former NBA player Dwyane Wade, who also appeared as a guest judge during the Judge Cuts, defended Gabrielle on Twitter: “So when i got the news that my wife was being fired—my first question was obviously why!?” Dwyane wrote. “I am still waiting on a good answer to that question. But if anyone knows @itsgabrielleu or have heard of her you know she’s an advocate for our community and culture.” Dwyane added, “As proud as i were of her being selected as a judge on #AGT— I am even more proud of her standing up for what she stands for and that’s US. So to you @itsgabrielleu on not losing sight of the lessons we’ve talked about teaching our daughter and for kicking a** while you were on that platform. Number 1 judge on one of the biggest shows in the world??”


About mj santilli 33688 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!


  1. I guess Simon must be sorry that he let Heidi and Mel B go. They were on the show for years. Maybe he should come to them on bended knee with a hefty pay up grade. But Mel B was having many personal problems that I hope have been resolved. She was recently a guest on a show in the UK, along with Adam Lambert, and she looked and seemed okay but you can’t really tell by that. When they were judges together on XFAU she looked fine then too but maybe that was before she ran into problems. But it seems she has or had a good relationship with Simon because he has put her on AGT and XFactor. I don’t know much about Gabrielle but Julianne may feel that sometimes these things don’t work well, so she has cut her losses and moved on to the next gig. I would think it is difficult and a challenge dealing with Simon. But there is only going to be one boss and it is going to be Simon.

  2. So basically she was fired for being a decent person.

    Simon’s a pig.

  3. I think that both Gabrielle and Julianne should have been fired (along with Howie). But these were clearly not the reasons to fire Gabrielle. Firing her for not giving any critiques that help contestants improve and for turning Kodi Lee into inspiration p**n would have been justified. Firing her for raising totally legitimate and troubling issues about Simon, Howie, Jay Leno, the producers, etc. pisses me off.

  4. Simon should be fired as well. The show was much better with Howard Stern.

  5. I suspect you are correct. I don’t know what happened or why they were fired. We haven’t heard from him (I doubt we will, at least not by twitter or instagram). But when you are the creator and the boss, you are unlikely to listen to others or newbies unless you want to. And you are unlikely to keep the people you no longer want to work with unless they are big hits and really help the franchise.

  6. What I liked about Howard, especially in season 9, is that he gave fair critiques to everyone and he championed the variety acts. When Simon came into the picture, it became a singer overload – 3 of the last 4 winners incorporated singing into their act

  7. i agree, i started watching this show in season 7 howards first season but now AGT is not like before.

  8. It doesn’t sound like Simon can be fired without cancelling the show. NBC has, according to the reports, completely deferred to Simon’s judgment.

    It is somewhat ironic though. When Howard was announced as a judge, there was a lot of concern about him bringing over the vulgarity from his radio show. By all reports, he was a gentleman and it’s Simon who brought the unpleasant working environment.

  9. Saw an interesting tweet about this and essentially what is said was that Gabreille was hired because they wanted to give the appearance of inclusion. But they only wanted the appearance, and not anything else a minority person might bring to the show. .

  10. My mom was really active with Prince Poppycock from S5’s fanbase back in the day. Right after the finale, a NBC staffer quit and wrote a whole rant on his fb saying that Piers buzzing him for being “boring” was all planned out and the buzzer is always turned off during the later weeks. At the time, I thought that it could not have been fixed since Michael Grimm who wasn’t as popular as Jackie Evancho won .

    Somebody wrote and unauthorized AGT book years ago where it showed the rules and it literally said producers can control every aspect. This whole mess proves that……

  11. S9 was one of my favorites. I didn’t care for Howard during S7(He was mean to a teen singer I liked who then disappeared and deleted social media 2-3 years later) but I thought he was fair and respectful. during S9. Even though my favorite Emily West didn’t win, it was still super enjoyable that year.

    Pretty sure the only singing act Siimon ever signed that wasn’t a winner during his tenure as judge was Courtney Hardwin and I haven’t heard about her since Champions

  12. As I understand it, all the Got Talent shows in every market are owned by Simon Cowell’s SYCO Company. He approves the judges; Stern left the US version because Cowell wanted to sit on the panel, even though he was already judging on the UK version. The story was covered here on the blog at the time.

  13. In all honesty, Howard Stern was right about Simon and Jay Leno. It seems like we need someone that would challenge Simon such as Howard, Sharon Osbourne, Christina Aguilera or a Meghan McCain/Johnny Bananas figure on the panel. I think it is time for NBC to wrestle some control out of Simon’s hands and I empathize with Gabrielle Union. I also think Howie’s next season (Season 15) should be his last! Just like Randy Jackson and Adam Levine on ‘Idol’ and ‘The Voice,’ he has outstayed his welcome.

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