On Thursday, NBCUniversal announced that the chairman of NBC Entertainment, who has been accused of fostering a toxic work environment, was leaving his job.
Paul Telegdy was “about to be investigated by outside counsel hired by NBCUniversal after accusations from several Hollywood stars, including the actress Gabrielle Union, that he fostered a toxic work environment,” The New York Times reported.
Union served as a judge on “America’s Got Talent” but was forced out after complaining of racist and offensive behavior on the set. She filed a complaint in June 2020 with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). “In addition to the complaint, she raised a new accusation that NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy threatened her over speaking out against racism on set,” Variety reported in June 2020. The complaint stated that Telegdy warned Union’s agent that she “should be careful of who she called racist.”
A spokesman for NBCUniversal stated to Variety: “The allegation that anyone involved in this process threatened Ms. Union is categorically untrue. We took Ms. Union’s concerns seriously, and engaged an outside investigator who found an overarching culture of diversity on the show. NBCUniversal remains committed to creating an inclusive and supportive working environment where people of all backgrounds are treated with respect.”
Union’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, responded, “It’s very telling that NBC fails to substantively address the DFEH complaint that Ms. Union filed based on racial discrimination. Instead, NBC wants to try and play word games by saying that their Chairman Paul Telegdy did not directly threaten Gabrielle Union. NBC of course ignores Paragraph 5 of the DFEH complaint which specifically states: On or about Febraury 4, 2020, Telegdy threatened Union through her agent and warned Union’s agent that Union had better cease from pursuing her claims of racism while filming AGT.”
The Hollywood Reporter (THR) reported at the end of July:
Sharon Osbourne, who was a judge on America’s Got Talent for six seasons, tells The Hollywood Reporter that Telegdy threatened her in 2012 when she told him her family was considering holding a press conference to protest NBC’s decision to drop her son Jack from the reality-competition series Stars Earn Stripes shortly after he disclosed that he had MS. “He said, ‘Go fuck yourself,’” Osbourne recalls. “If you call the press you’ll never work in this town, you fucking witch.’”
“Sources say they have seen Telegdy mock gay executives, sometimes to their faces; use homophobic and misogynistic slurs; and disparage or make sexual comments about the physical appearance of network talent. Current and former insiders say they have heard Telegdy participate in what one former insider describes as ‘appalling’ discussions in the office that included crude sexual remarks,” THR added.
An NBC spokesperson issued a statement to THR: “This narrative is not reflective of the values of NBC Entertainment or the culture we strive to create. NBCUniversal takes these matters seriously, and will investigate these allegations, many of which are coming to our attention for the first time. NBCUniversal remains committed to creating a safe, respectful and supportive workplace for all.”
“The nature of these allegations flies in the face of everything I stand for. I hope that my actions over decades — empowering those around me, supporting artists, and creating shows with values of aspiration and inclusion at the core — speak louder than the selective words of a few,” Telegdy said in his statement to THR.