Former America's Got Talent judge Howard Stern believes showrunner Simon Cowell is to blame for Gabrielle Union's recent firing. "He has set it up that the men stay, no matter how old they are, no matter how fat they are, no matter how ugly they are, no matter talentless they are," Stern, who appeared on the show from 2012 to 2015, said Monday on his SiriusXM radio show, per Deadline. "But what he manages to do on all his shows is he constantly replaces the hot chicks with hotter chicks and younger chicks. Which is so obvious." Stern noted that Cowell, who also serves as judge, and longtime judge Howie Mandel stayed on at the end of season 13, while judges Mel B and Heidi Klum were replaced with Union and Julianne Hough, neither of whom will return for season 15.
"This is the ultimate example of a boys club—two seasons in a row the female judges being fired while Simon and Howie soldier on," Stern said, noting host Tyra Banks was also swapped with Terry Crews for season 14, per USA Today. "It's one thing if you fire everyone, but why is it always the women on that show that constantly go into rotation?" The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists is investigating claims of a toxic work environment, which reportedly involved a joke guest Jay Leno made about dogs on the "menu at a Korean restaurant," per Deadline. ABC News also describes claims that Cowell smoked indoors. NBC, production company Fremantle, and Cowell's company Syco say they "take very seriously any questions about workplace culture" and "will take whatever next steps may be appropriate." (More on the controversy here.)