The former Tonight Show joked that Cowell looked at his dogs like they were “on the menu at a Korean restaurant
Page Six reports that now-former America’s Got Talent judges Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough left the show as a result of a “toxic” workplace culture at the NBC talent competition show.
Union also reported Jay Leno for racist comments when he was a guest judge on the show in April. The former Tonight Show host allegedly made a racist anti-Korean slur during his appearance.
Commenting on a painting of executive producer Simon Cowell and his dogs, Leno said it looked like something one might see “on the menu at a Korean restaurant.”
One insider highlighted that there are “very few Asian staffers” working on the show.
Union, who was introduced in AGT’s 14th season, urged producers to report the joke to NBC’s human resources. She emphasised that production needed to understand why Leno’s joke could be offensive.
The joke was cut from the episode but Union’s complaint was not taken further by NBC executives.
Leno’s racist joke was just one of many instances of “toxic culture” on the show. Union and Hough reportedly “received excessive notes on their physical appearance”. Hough reportedly was criticised for her hair, makeup and wardrobe. The comments affected her morale and resulted in tensions.
Union and Hough were since let go by the show and will not be returning for its 15th season.