SAG-AFTRA Expands Fremantle Investigation After Gabrielle Union Meeting, Orlando Jones Claims

Orlando Jones - Getty - H 2019

The actors' union said earlier this month that it was looking into the former reality show judge's controversial exit.

SAG-AFTRA is expanding its investigation into Fremantle Media after meeting with Gabrielle Union and following Orlando Jones' claim that he was fired from American Gods.

“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 actors' union said in a statement released Friday morning. “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.”

In response to the expanding investigation, a rep for Fremantle told The Hollywood Reporter, “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.”

SAG-AFTRA initially opened up an investigation into Union's exit from NBC's AGT amid a report of "toxic culture," accusations of racial insensitivity and claims from Union's husband, Dwyane Wade, that his wife was fired.

Earlier this month SAG-AFTRA said of their initial investigation, "We take issues of workplace health and safety very seriously. We immediately reached out to Ms. Union's representatives when these reports came to light. It is our practice to work closely with members who reach out to us and their representatives in instances like this, as that usually affords the best protection and best resolution for the affected member. For certain matters, our investigation and enforcement needs to happen independently and we are prepared to handle this issue accordingly, as warranted."

Following news of Union's controversial exit, NBC and Fremantle issued the following statement: "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 lineup 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."

Fellow producer Syco joined Fremantle in an additional statement, saying, "We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees, and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture. We are working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate."

This weekend Jones claimed that he was fired from the Fremantle-produced Starz series American Gods, saying showrunner Charles Eglee decided his character was sending "the wrong message for black America."

"There will be no more Mr. Nancy. Don’t let these motherfuckers tell you they love Mr. Nancy. They don’t. I’m not going to name names but the new season 3 showrunner is Connecticut-born and Yale-educated, so he’s very smart and he thinks that Mr. Nancy’s angry, get-shit-done is the wrong message for black America," Jones said in a video posted to Twitter. "That’s right. This white man sits in that decision-making chair, and I’m sure he has many black BFFs who are his advisors and made it clear to him that if they did not get rid of that angry god Mr. Nancy he’d start a Denmark Vesey uprising in this country. I mean, what else could it be?"

The actor added that Union and AGT figures Heidi Klum and Nick Cannon "all have said Fremantle is a nightmare."

"They treated you like a 2nd class citizen for doing your job to [sic] well. Stay tuned. More to come. #AngryGetsShitDone," Jones said.

Klum is set to return for spinoff AGT: Champions premiering Jan. 6 while Cannon previously hosted AGT.

Union retweeted Jones' message, adding, "Ohhhhhhhhhhh … let’s chat my friend. #StrongerTogether."

An American Gods spokesperson responded to Jones' claims by saying, "The storylines of American Gods have continually shifted and evolved to reflect the complex mythology of the source material. Mr. Jones’ option was not picked up because Mr. Nancy, among other characters, is not featured in the portion of the book we are focusing on within season three."

9:26 a.m. This story has been updated with a response to the expanding investigation from Fremantle.