Details are starting to surface surrounding the judges shakeup on America's Got Talent. Following new that Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough were not asked to return for Season 15 of the NBC competition series, a new report claims the show has had some behind-the-scenes drama as some say the judges complained about the toxic culture on the show.
The network reportedly decided not to renew the new judges' contracts, despite the fact they could have been renewed under their options. A new report from Variety revealed several incidents that clouded production of Season 14.
Sources told the outlet that both Hough and Union — who joined the judges panel in Season 14 following Heidi Klum and Mel B's exits — received "excessive notes" on their appearance. The insiders said Hugh received consistent criticism on hair, makeup and wardrobe, which they said impacted her morale and led to tension on set.
Hough, however, denied the claims made by the sources in a statement to the outlet.
"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," she said. She also mentioned two upcoming projects she has with the network, Holidays With the Houghs co-starring her brother Derek, and Christmas in Rockefeller Center in December.
"I'm looking forward to what the future holds," she added.
The sources also claimed Union was subjected to racial critiques, with the report claiming she was told her rotating hairstyles were "too black" for the NBC show's audience. She reportedly received the note half a dozen times.
The report also detailed a situation related to a racially-insensitive audition, which Union and other show staffers reportedly expressed their concern about during production.
News of Union and Hough's exit first broke on Saturday, immediately leading to speculation as to why the judges had left the show. The show reportedly received a bump in social media presence since they joined the series. This year's America's Got Talent finale drew approximately 10 million viewers, down three million from the year before but top rated in the 18-49 demographic.0comments
"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 told the outlet 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."
The show is expected to return for Season 15 in summer 2020.