In an interview with VladTV posted Tuesday, the host of Fox’s “The Masked Singer,” which opens Season 3 Sunday after the Super Bowl, threw his wholehearted support behind Union and suggested Crews was being loyal to his employer.
Soon after news broke in November that Union and fellow judge Julianne Hough were being dropped after one season, Variety reported on a “toxic culture” at the show that included racist jokes and excessive focus on female judges’ appearances, including race-related comments. Union later reported speaking her “unfiltered truth” during a “productive” five-hour meeting with NBC, which is investigating the situation and promising changes, if necessary, according to NBC Entertainment chief Paul Telegdy.
Cannon, who left “AGT” in 2017 after seven seasons of hosting, backs Union without reservation.
“Gabby’s my girl. I’ve been standing firmly with her and support whatever she needs,” he said. “Whatever she said, if it happened, I’m rocking with you. Let’s go.”
Without detailing specific incidents, Cannon responded to a question about the culture at “AGT” by saying, “It was some eye-opening events that occurred that really just shed light on some cultural insensitvities, ultimately, when it comes to women, when it comes to how the show is produced.”
Different perspectives:Gabrielle Union tweets about being thrown ‘under the bus’ after Terry Crews defends ‘AGT’
During his time on the show, Cannon said he saw things “that are truly not fair” regarding how the contestants and judges are handled.
Crews, who succeeded Tyra Banks as host in 2019, said he hadn’t experienced the “toxic culture” described in the Variety story during an appearance on “Today” last week.
“I can’t speak for sexism because I’m not a woman, but I can speak on behalf of any racism comments. That was never my experience,” he said. “In fact, it was the most diverse place I have ever been in my 20 years of entertainment.”
He continued, “When you look at what the allegations were about, it was given by an unnamed source. My thing is – it’s funny because I believe you should listen to women, you should always believe women, so I asked my wife what I should do. She was like, ‘First of all, if it’s coming from an unnamed source – because Gabrielle Union has not made any statement about any of these allegations publicly – … If she hasn’t made a statement, why would you?’ ”
Crews faced backlash after that appearance. Many think Union was referring to his comments in her response to a supporter the next day that talked about “those who enthusiastically will throw you under the bus.”
Cannon says problems at “AGT” are an “institutional issue” related to corporate entities Fremantle, which produces the show, and NBC.
“Fremantle (is) based out of the U.K. and a lot of their producers don’t understand the cultural sensitivities of American culture. And then … you have a network like NBC that’s only really worried about the dollar at the end of the day. All they want to see is that final product. They don’t care how you got to it,” he said. “So, when someone like Gabby, who is well educated, well-versed in speaking her mind, says, ‘Oh, this isn’t right, this shouldn’t be occurring,’ then people are like, ‘Now, she’s angry. Now, she’s a troublemaker.’ No. She’s pointing out things that are true issues that need to be fixed.”
He said he loves Crews and doesn’t blame him, but suggested the current host doesn’t want to speak ill of his employer.
“We get excited about the occupation. We get excited to work for the man and we’re going to defend the man because he gave me a job. And ‘I ain’t seen nothing’ becomes the thing. It don’t matter what you saw,” he said, adding that he supported Crews when he accused his then-agent, Adam Venit, of groping him.
“I stood firmly by him when my former agent accosted him and people thought it was funny. We all thought it was funny, because the situation was so hard to believe that sometimes it can appear to be humorous,” Cannon said. “But the idea was it didn’t matter if it was funny. We stood by you because you said this was an issue. We didn’t see Adam Venit grab your genitalia, but you said it happened so we rocked with you.”