Simon Cowell reportedly hired new legal representation for NBC's ongoing investigation into the America's Got Talent workplace. The investigation was triggered after NBC had a long meeting with Gabrielle Union, who was ousted from the show after one season back on Nov. 25. After NBC announced Union would not be coming back, reports surfaced that the L.A.'s Finest actress frequently complained about a "toxic" work environment at AGT.
Cowell, who created the franchise and is an executive producer, hired Larry Stein, sources told Variety Saturday. Stein, an experienced Hollywood litigator, will advise Cowell on how to respond to the investigations.
The former American Idol judge did not attend the five-hour meeting between NBC, production company Fremantle and Union because he was in London filming a new season of The X-Factor at the time. A source told Variety Cowell thought Fremantle could adequately represent his and his company Syco's interests.
Late last month, NBC surprisingly let Union and Julianne Hough go after they only appeared on a single season of AGT over the summer. A few days later, Variety and LoveBScott reported that Union frequently complained about the workplace environment.
Union complained to producers about Cowell's frequent indoor smoking. She also objected to a racist joke Jay Leno made when filming a guest appearance, and the joke was eventually cut. In another instance, she complained about an audition from a man who wore "black hands" while impersonating Beyonce. That audition was also eventually cut.
Other reports suggested Union and Hough were both frequently sent notes about their appearance. One note reportedly told Union her hairstyles were "too black" for the AGT audience.
After a groundswell of support from her famous colleagues, Union and NBC met on Wednesday about the situation.
"The initial conversation was candid and productive. While there will be a further investigation to get a deeper understanding of the facts, we are working with Gabrielle to come to a positive resolution," an NBC spokesperson said.
"We had a lengthy 5-hour, and what I thought to be, productive meeting yesterday," Union tweeted Wednesday. "I was able to, again, express my unfiltered truth. I led with transparency and my desire and hope for real change."
Deadline later reported that Cowell was at the center of the investigation because of his behavior and "overlording" of the show.
"The ball is in NBC's court to see if they can get Cowell to agree to make some changes to the way things are done on the show," a source told Deadline.
Photo credit: Getty Images/NBC