As controversy continues to mount around "America's Got Talent," former judge Howard Stern says a major root of the problem is Simon Cowell, who along with sitting on the judges' panel is one of the show's executive producers.
Stern, who was a judge on the NBC program for four seasons, said Monday on his SiriusXM show that it's "obvious" Cowell and other "AGT" producers constantly replace female judges based on sexist criteria.
"What he manages to do on all his shows is he constantly replaces the hot chicks with hotter chicks and younger chicks," Stern said. "He sets it up that the men stay, no matter how ugly they are, no matter how old they are, no matter how fat they are, no matter how talentless they are."
He added, "This is the ultimate example of a boys' club."
The critique is reminiscent of something Sharon Osbourne said in March 2019: The former "AGT" and "X Factor" host said that Simon Cowell, who himself is 60, thought she was "too old" to continue judging. "If you want young, fire yourself," she quipped.
Indeed, since the 2006 debut of "AGT," the the judges' panel has always consisted of two men, and all of the male judges have enjoyed much longer stretches on the show than the female ones: Howie Mandel has had the longest run with 10 seasons, while the other long-standing male judges have been David Hasselhoff, Piers Morgan, Stern and Cowell himself.
In contrast, the female judges have held their positions for much shorter stints. In addition to Osbourne, past judges have included Heidi Klum, Brandi Norwood, Mel B, Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union. Recently, Hough and Union were both let go from their spots after just one season, sparking backlash and scrutiny over "toxic culture" behind-the-scenes of the program.
According to insiders, Union and Hough received "excessive notes" on their physical appearances, with Hough in particular being subject to "constant criticism on hair, makeup and morale, which impacted morale and led to tensions," Variety reports. Hough has disputed the accounts.