Heidi Klum defends ‘AGT’: ‘I’ve never seen anything that was weird or hurtful’
Heidi Klum talked about her new Amazon series, 'Making the Cut,' during an appearance at the Television Critics Association Tuesday. She also addressed a controversy and investigation surrounding "America's Got Talent," where she has served as a judge. (Photo: Willy Sanjuan, Invision/AP)
PASADENA, Calif. – Heidi Klum has nothing but good things to say about her time on “America’s Got Talent,” now being investigated by NBC over allegations of a inappropriate comments and behind the scenes behavior by former judge Gabrielle Union.
Union and fellow judge Julianne Hough were dropped after one season and, in November, Variety reported on a “toxic culture” at the show that included racist jokes and excessive focus on female judges’ appearances, including race-related comments.
NBC Entertainment chief Paul Telegdy said Saturday he expected the investigation to be completed by the end of January, adding concerns are being taken seriously. He promised “new practices, if necessary.” SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, also is investigating.
After a Television Critics Association panel Tuesday for her new Amazon fashion-competition series, “Making the Cut,” Klum addressed her six seasons on the popular talent competition. (Union and Hough succeeded Klum and Mel B after the 2018 season, but Klum is back as a judge for this winter’s “AGT: Champions,” a pre-taped competition.)
Investigation: NBC chief promises change ‘if necessary’ at ‘AGT’ after Gabrielle Union complaints, exit
Gabrielle Union, left, and Julianne Hough were judges on 'America's Got Talent' for one season, before being dropped by the show. (Photo: NBC)
“I’ve only had an amazing experience. I can’t speak for (Union). I didn’t experience the same thing,” she said. “To me, everyone treats you with the utmost respect. I’ve never seen anything that was weird or hurtful.”
Variety reported Union’s concerns that a joke from guest judge Jay Leno was anti-Asian, that show personnel spent too much time critiquing the female judges’ appearance and that Union’s hairstyle had been called “too black” for the show’s audience.
Union, NBC meet: Gabrielle Union after ‘AGT’ exit: I spoke my ‘unfiltered truth’ in 5-hour NBC meeting
Asked if she had seen or heard anything racist, Klum replied: “Nothing.” She added that she did not believe undue focus was placed on her wardrobe or appearance.
Klum defended the show as an environment that allows for give and take and offers her the opportunity “to relax a little bit.”
Simon Cowell is a judge and executive producer of 'America's Got Talent,' which is being investigated over reports of a "toxic" behind-the-scenes culture. (Photo: Trae Patton/NBC)
“Of course, there’s always this cat-and-dog fight, but this is fun. You say something silly,” she said. “For me, being on television, I want to entertain people. I want people to have a good time. I want people to go away from their life for two hours and just have fun and enjoy.”
She offered the example of judge Simon Cowell, who also is the show’s executive producer, making a generalization about female rivalry on the show.
“If there’s a girl on stage and she’s a beautiful girl … and I said, ‘I didn’t love the act so much, I think you’re gorgeous and this and that,’ and he’s like, ‘Meow!’ I think that’s funny, because I understand the joke, because normally girls are catty and it’s like, ‘Oh, maybe I don’t like the girl on the stage because she’s beautiful,'” she said. “But, like relax! It’s a joke.”
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