Simon Cowell is lawyering up ahead of an investigation into the behavior at ‘America’s Got Talent.’
Cowell has hired Larry Stein, a longtime litigator in Hollywood and media spaces, multiple individuals familiar with the matter told Variety. Stein is expected to advise Cowell and participate in a probe regarding complaints of a toxic culture at the show, raised by staffers including Union. The complaints included numerous accusations of racial insensitivity and excessive critiques of the female cast.
Cowell’s banner Syco, production company Fremantle and NBC all expressed a desire to learn more about Union’s issues a week ago, which resulted in a five-hour meeting on Tuesday — though sources said Cowell was notably absent for this exploratory meeting, as was any representative from Syco. The meeting included an NBC staffer who took notes, Fremantle’s North American COO, Suzanne Lopez, and a third party counselor hired by the network.
Cowell is currently shooting “The X Factor” in London, and felt that Fremantle was sufficient to represent the company in the room, another insider said. Yet another individual with knowledge of the matter said that the third party was representing all three companies, and was primarily interested in hearing Union. The investigation will result in many more such meetings across the production, the insider added.
Representatives for Cowell and NBC had no immediate comment. Stein did not return Variety‘s request for comment. Fremantle did not immediately comment on Lopez’s involvement.
“The initial conversation was candid and productive. While there will be a further investigation to get a deeper understanding of the facts, we are working with Gabrielle to come to a positive resolution,” an NBC spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday.
He must know what’s coming.