NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy is under investigation at the network after he was accused of “presiding over a toxic environment” in a bombshell report by The Hollywood Reporter. Telegdy has been in a public battle with former “America’s Got Talent” judge Gabrielle Union, who accused him of threatening her agent while Union was in …
NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy is under investigation at the network after he was accused of “presiding over a toxic environment” in a bombshell report by The Hollywood Reporter.
Telegdy has been in a public battle with former “America’s Got Talent” judge Gabrielle Union, who accused him of threatening her agent while Union was in the midst of a discrimination suit against the network. Union filed a harassment complaint that accused the network of being “a snake pit of racial offenses,” and claimed she was axed from the show when she complained. Telegdy and NBC have denied the accusations of any threats, and NBC has said an outside investigation did not support her claims.
But now another former “America’s Got Talent” judge, Sharon Osbourne, told The Hollywood Reporter on Friday that Telegdy threatened her in 2012. Osbourne claimed that she once told Telegdy that her famous family was thinking about holding a press conference to protest the network’s decision to drop her son, Jack, from the show, “Stars Earn Stripes,” after he revealed he has MS.
“He said, ‘Go f–k yourself,’” Osbourne told THR of Telegdy, adding that he told her, “’If you call the press you’ll never work in this town, you f–king witch.’” She said she quit over the dispute. But a rep for Telegdy denied Osbourne’s account to THR.
Osbourne also said that she first met Telegdy at a work dinner where he allegedly arrived late “with this tittering girl at his side,” she said. “She was on his knee the whole evening and he had his tongue down her throat and that was my introduction to Paul Telegdy.” Osbourne said she later told Meredith Ahr, who was executive VP of alternative programming at the time when Telegdy ran the division and is now president of NBC’s alternative and reality group, “If that had been a woman, she would have been let go the next day.” Telegdy denied Osbourne’s account of the dinner.
According to further interviews with more than 30 NBC staffers and insiders, THR reported sources as saying they saw Telegdy “mock gay executives, sometimes to their faces; use homophobic and misogynistic slurs; and disparage or make sexual comments about the physical appearance of network talent.” The piece added that, “Current and former insiders say they have heard Telegdy participate in what one former insider describes as ‘appalling’ discussions in the office that included crude sexual remarks.”
Teledgy has overseen successful shows including “The Voice,” “Ellen’s Game of Games” and “America’s Got Talent.”
An NBC spokesperson told THR in a statement: “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.”
Telegdy told THR: “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.”
The piece also alleges that Telegdy had poor relationships with NBC power producers Dick Wolf, of the hit “Law & Order” franchise, and Lorne Michaels at “Saturday Night Live.” Sources said that Telegdy irked Michaels by pushing him to book NBC talent on “SNL,” and that Telegdy never built trust with Wolf.
An NBC rep for Michaels told THR its account of the relationship was “incorrect,” and Wolf apparently declined to comment, but sources said that Wolf instead had a strong bond with Telegdy’s former co-chairman, George Cheeks.
An unnamed executive told THR of Teledgy’s reign, “There was a lot of sex talk, drinking talk,” and another alleged that, “[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.”
Sources alleged to THR that Telegdy mocked gay men at the company. “He would go into impersonations, acting like a gay person with a lisp,” said a former unnamed exec. Another said: “He used to make fun of the way [an exec at the network] talked and his affect as a gay man,” and yet another source said, “He would make fun of my voice.”
Telegdy also allegedly discussed in front of staff a sexual encounter involving himself, a close industry associate and a female musician.
Sources told THR that Ahr egged on Telegdy. ”They have a club and you’re in or you’re out,” said a former staffer. “You fall out very easily. If you choose to challenge [Ahr], you get iced out.” Another producer said, “It’s like a cult inside there.” Several former execs recalled that Ahr pulled an offensive prank by placing a framed photo of a black actress whom Ahr apparently considered very unattractive on his desk. “She played it off as if Paul could refer to that as his wife and make fun of it,” a source told THR. A spokesman for Ahr denied it.
Ahr told THR in a statement: “I have spent my career striving to create a work environment that gives people an opportunity to learn and grow, as well as championing diversity and inclusion both on our shows and in our executive ranks. To see this false portrait painted by anonymous sources is devastating, and in no way reflects who I am.”
A showrunner said of Telegdy: “Paul has no ability to control what comes out of his mouth.”
Another source told Page Six of Telegdy: “Paul is direct and honest. He will call it like it is, and people may not like that … Some people at NBC may suddenly now have something bitchy to say because he called them out, but it’s always been visible from being close to him that he has always been inclusive.”
The source added: “Anyone at that level in a network position will have some people internally or externally complaining about them for one reason or another.”
Sources told Page Six that there have been no official complaints to NBC human resources about Telegdy.