After only two months as a judge on NBC’s hit talent competition, “America’s Got Talent,” actress and producer Gabrielle Union found herself in a rather uncomfortable meeting with Simon Cowell. He had a very simple message for her; if she had any issues with the show, come directly to him, not NBC.
Her concerns were brought up regularly after joining the show in February. These included Cowell’s smoking inside and alleged racist incidents which had mainly been addressed with NBC executives. She heard the same response that they would look into her concerns, but nothing ever came of it.
When it came time for the new judge and Cowell to meet, she felt very frustrated and concerned with the workplace environment of “America’s Got Talent.” His words felt like a pressure tactic to the actress and left her feeling that both he and the network were covering up some major issues.
Last Friday, Union found out from NBC that she was being let go after one season. She felt that Cowell “perceived” her as “difficult” and prematurely ended her three-contract with the show. The network had even added in a clause for her option to be extended for subsequent seasons. Production ‘sources’ have stated that both Union and Julianne Hough were being rotated out, it is noticeable that past judges Mel B and Heidi Klum were kept for more than one season before being ‘rotated out.’
Union thanked supporters for defending her amid reports she was fired from “America’s Got Talent” after complaining about racism and other alleged on-set issues.
“Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone… you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever,” the actress tweeted Wednesday night. She didn’t directly address her status with NBC’s talent show, and her representatives did not respond to requests for comment Friday or previously.
According to reports, Union and Julianne Hough have been dropped as “America’s Got Talent” judges after a single season.
Union, who is African American, reportedly sought network action to address a workplace environment that allegedly allowed racist jokes and comments and other troubling behavior, including judge-producer Simon Cowell’s smoking indoors in violation of state law.
Union’s husband, former NBA player Dwyane Wade, also weighed in Wednesday on Twitter, saying he’d yet to hear a good reason why his wife was being fired.
In a statement, NBC and series producer Fremantle defended what they called the show’s “long history of inclusivity and diversity.”
“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 companies said.
The judging panel has changed since the show’s 2006 debut, but most judges’ tenures have lasted at least several years, including that of Sharon Osbourne, Mel B, and Howard Stern.
Among the celebrities who have rallied publicly behind Union are “Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo, Holly Robinson Peete and Patricia Arquette.
“I’m just catching up on this. This is terrible,” Arquette tweeted. “You should not be penalized for trying to have a workplace that honors the rule of law in the workplace.”
On Thursday, Union posted a family photo on Instagram to wish her followers a happy Thanksgiving and to salute “all the friends and family that have my back and all the friends and family I’ve never met who show love and support when everyone is looking and when no one is looking.”
Brad Paisley Has A Sense Of Humor
Brad Paisley is perfectly comfortable being the butt of jokes. In his new variety special, “Brad Paisley Thinks He’s Special,” airing Dec. 3 on ABC, the country star allows himself to be the punchline in a number of skits with celeb pals including Peyton Manning, Carrie Underwood, the Jonas Brothers, and Tim McGraw.
“It’s the way I got everybody to do it. I said, ‘You’re here to roast me,’” he says. “When we were talking on the phone I said, ‘Guys, no misconception here. You need to realize this exists for me to be laughed at and I’m good with that.’ So they were like, ‘We’re in.’”
In one highlight, Underwood takes Paisley mudding in a red truck yelling, “I feel the need for speed” with Paisley exclaiming, “Jesus take the wheel!” as he tries to hold on.
“There’s a side of Carrie I’ve never seen before doing this,” said Paisley.
The award-winning musician has enjoyed showing his comedic side since high school and as his star rose in showbiz, it caught on that he was always game to play. He’s co-hosted the CMA’s 11 times, had a comedy special on Netflix and stars in a series of Nationwide insurance commercials with Manning.
“You show up on some of these late-night shows like ‘Kimmel,’ they’ve figured out a long time ago that I’m up for anything and so they’ll frequently have me guest and do a funny song or a skit or a thing. Same with other friends I’ve made. Seth Meyers is a good friend and people like that that over the years I really enjoy the collaborative process of doing things outside of my comfort zone.”
Implementing ideas and turning them into a reality is a thrill for the 47-year-old.
“I love nothing more than creating and sort of coming up with an idea and seeing it through in this career. Whether that’s a song that you write, and it becomes a single and a hit and a video and a thing you do on tour and leads to everything else or it’s a television show. There’s nothing more satisfying than saying here’s the finish line and I think if we do all these things right, we can get there.”
Ozuna Has A Mission
Ozuna set a record for most weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Latin albums chart by a male artist with his 2017 debut album, “Odisea.” The superstar reggaeton and Latin trap singer, who has sold-out New York’s Madison Square Garden, is also the first artist to have seven music videos reach a billion views each on YouTube.
Because he wanted to match his previous success — and reach even greater heights — Ozuna got more involved in the production process of “Nibiru,” his third full-length album released Friday.
“I believe this is the album (that) I have dedicated (the most) time in my career,” Ozuna said in Spanish in a phone interview from New York City this week. “I feel good (about) the music … we took things from everywhere to do this.”
The album features the hit single “Baila Baila Baila,” which earned him his first Latin Grammy nomination this year (he lost to Rosalía). “Nibiru” also includes “Reggaeton en Paris,” featuring Dalex and Nicky Jam, and his latest single “Hasta Que Salga el Sol,” which he said was made “for the disco and the party.”
“It’s a great song with great energy,” he said. “If you wake up with a song like this, you got to cheer up that day.”
“Nibiru” also includes collaborations with high-profile performers such as Diddy and DJ Snake (“Eres Top”), Snoop Dogg and Anuel AA (“Patek”) and Swae Lee (“Sin Pensar”). The track “Temporal” features Willy of the Puerto Rican rock band Cultura Profética — a song that takes the rocker to more tropical grounds.
“I love the style of rock. I love the electric guitar,” said Ozuna about his relationship with rock music.
Ozuna, born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, performed at Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City on Thursday. Last week he was one of the headlining acts at the Coca-Cola Flow Fest in Mexico City, where 75,000 fans attended and Ozuna shined onstage with a bright red jacket and hat.
“It’s out of respect for my fans, you got to look and dress good,” Ozuna said of his fashion choices.
He will return to Mexico for the Machaca Festival next year. His 2020 will be super-busy: He’ll launch his “Nibiru” world tour and he will appear in “Fast & Furious 9,” which will hit U.S. theaters on May 22.
Ozuna is ending 2019 on a bright note. At the beginning of the year, he said he was being extorted over an explicit video filmed when he was 16 years old.
To those facing similar challenges, Ozuna said: “Keep going forward.”
“Those are special situations, everyone comes here to learn something, surely they will learn from those situations. It’s just going to be an experience.”