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SAG-AFTRA Expanding Fremantle Investigation

SAG-AFTRA, the union representing 160,000 actors, writers and others in the entertainment business, said it was expanding its investigation of Fremantle Media.

“After initial meetings with Gabrielle Union and her representatives about her experiences on America’s Got Talent, and after learning more about Orlando Jones’s experience on American Gods, SAG-AFTRA is expanding its investigation of Fremantle Media,” the union said in a statement Friday.

“Our enforcement actions are handled confidentially to protect the members involved, and we typically do not publicize these matters unless the affected members request that we do so,” “We have nothing further to report at this time.”

A Fremantle representative said: “We welcome this investigation and intend to cooperate fully. Allegations without factual support should not go unchecked. We have already informed SAG-AFTRA that we are willing to meet to discuss the allegations.” 

Union--and her husband former NBA star Dwyane Wade-- said she was fired from the reality show.

Variety reported that Union had been urging the show’s producers to report a racist joke being made to human resource officers. Producers also told her that hairstyle she wore on the show was “too black.”

At the time NBC and Fremantle issued a statement saying that "America's Got Talent has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show. 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."

Jones has claimed he was fired from the Starz program American Gods. Jones called out the studio in a tweet that said that Union, Mel B., Nick Cannon and Heidi Klum “all have said @FremantleUS is a nightmare. They treated you like a 2d class citizen for doing your job well.”

Jones also noted differences with the series’ new showrunner, “a white man [sitting] in that decision-making chair.” He said he was told his character was sending the wrong message to “black America."

Fremantle said Jones’ option for season three of American Gods was not picked up because of shifts in the show’s storyline.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.