Insiders at NBC say NBC chairman Paul Telegdy took part in racist, sexist and homophobic behavior, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter.
It seems like it’s all coming full-circle. On June 4, actress and producer GabrielleUnion filed a complaint with California’s fair employment office claiming the show was a haven for racism, sexism, and an overall toxic work environment. In that claim, Union included another complaint that she made back in February that stated Telegdy allegedly threatened to silence her while in the midst of a probe that was taking place against the company. “The allegation that anyone involved in this process threatened Ms. Union is categorically untrue,” said NBC in a statement.
However, #SharonOsbourne, who also was a judge on the show, told THR that Telegdy threatened her in 2012 when she told him her family was thinking about holding a press conference to protest NBC’s decision to drop her son Jack from the reality-competition series “Stars Earn Stripes” right after he shared that he had MS. “He said, ‘Go fuck yourself,'” Osbourne recalled. “If you call the press you’ll never work in this town, you fucking witch.'” Osbourne reportedly quit the show after the incident. Telegdy said Osbourne’s account never happened.
However, Osbourne isn’t the only person to speak out against Telegdy’s alleged toxic ways. THR interviewed more than 30 producers, executives, and current and former network insiders who cosigned Union and Osbourne’s words about Telegdy’s alleged behavior. In particular, workers said that Telegdy’s misconduct was mostly seen in the company’s reality division. Employees and execs say Telegdy would mock gay executives sometimes to their face, use homophobic and misogynistic slurs, and would make sexual comments about talent at NB, THR reports.
“There was a lot of sex talk, drinking talk,” said one executive who worked at the company. Another former NBC executive said, “[Telegdy] heard this artist had this penis size and made fun of it. He made fun of the way people looked, their weight. It was par for the course with him.” Several people said he made extremely offensive comments about a pregnant executive’s breasts. “He would go into impersonations, acting like a gay person with a lisp,” one former executive who is gay said. Another said, “He used to make fun of the way [an exec at the network] talked and his affect as a gay man.” Yet another former insider, also a gay man, said, “He would make fun of my voice.”
In a statement to THR, an NBC spokesperson said: “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.” NBC has yet to respond. In Telegdy’s own statement, he wrote: “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.” After just one season, NBC fired Union, claiming nothing unusual had happened, but the implication was that it was a normal business move where to entities didn’t match. But, while an investigation was in place over Union’s allegations, Telegdy told Union’s agent that she “should be careful of who she called racist.” Union says the lack of action taken against Telegdy following her investigation “shows very clearly that white male senior executives of NBC have a completely different set of rules that apply to them.”