Julianne Hough will not be returning to the judging panel for America's Got Talent for the NBC show's next season, and it was recently reported that she had been subjected to criticism of her appearance during her time on the show. On Tuesday, Hough spoke out against the claims in a statement, saying that she enjoyed her time on the show.
"I had a wonderful time on 'America’s Got Talent,' I loved working with the cast, crew and producers. I am happy to continue my working relationship with NBC," Hough said. "I’m looking forward to what the future holds."
While she will no longer serve as a judge on AGT, Hough has two other projects with NBC, the TV special Holidays With the Houghs, which co-stars her brother, Derek Hough, and an appearance on the annual Christmas in Rockefeller Center program.
Along with Hough, AGT judge Gabrielle Union was also let go, and she, along with Hough, was also reported to have received numerous notes on her physical appearance. Two sources said that Hough was constantly critiqued on her hair, makeup and wardrobe, which allegedly impacted her morale and caused tension. Union was reportedly told that her various hair styles were "too black" for the show's audience at least half a dozen times, four insiders said.
The report also alleges that Union was cut from the show after she urged producers to report an offensive joke made by Jay Leno when the comedian visited the show in April to appear as a guest judge. Four people present for the taping said that Leno joked about a painting of Simon Cowell and his dogs, saying that the animals "looked like something one would find “on the menu at a Korean restaurant."
Union reportedly urged producers to report the joke to human resources at NBC, which did not happen. During an audition taping for Season 14, Union and other staff members reportedly raised a concern over the way a contestant portrayed people of color during his performance. Entertainment writer B. Scott reported that Union's termination was a result of her speaking up about "problematic" situations.
"'America’s Got Talent’ has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show," NBC and series producer Fremantle said in a joint statement. "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."
Cowell, Howie Mandel and Terry Crews are all expected to return to the show for Season 15.
Photo Credit: Getty / Jason Kempin