Sharon Osbourne quitting America’s Got Talent over NBC’s “discrimination” against Jack

America’s Got Talent judge Sharon Osbourne is quitting the NBC reality series over the network’s treatment of her son, Jack, which she says is discriminatory because they rejected him as a contestant on Stars Earn Stripes because of his multiple sclerosis.

When Sharon first said she was quitting, she said only that it was because of money. Later, she told a TV critic that NBC “hasn’t asked me back, so I don’t know.” In a follow-up, Eric Deggans says she misled the press, since her story changed.

That’s because Sharon just told the New York Post she was actually quitting because, “I just can’t be fake. It’s discrimination, and it was badly handled. … It’s time to move on.” She’s referring to NBC’s rejection of Jack as a cast member on Mark Burnett’s Stars Earn Stripes, a series that puts quasi-celebrities such as Todd Palin through military-style challenges.

NBC Entertainment President Bob Greenblatt said in a statement that “We hold medical information in strict confidence and therefore cannot comment specifically about Jack, but as a company that cares deeply about the health and safety of everyone on our shows — especially one like Stars Earn Stripes that requires dangerous water stunts, strenuous physical activity, and uses live ammunition — we required all potential participants to undergo medical vetting to ensure that they could safely participate.” He added
that they did “offer him two substantial alternative roles on the show, both of which he declined.” Greenblatt’s statement also said, “This network does not discriminate on any basis.”

In response, Jack tweeted, “NBC said they didn’t fire me over my diagnosis? Bull-Fucking-SHIT”; he also insisted he was up for the physical challenge.

Earlier, the show’s executive producer, David A. Hurwitz, basically acknowledged that Jack’s medical condition was to blame, but says Jack was never cast and then fired. He told TV critics on July 24 that “because of the strains and the rigors of not only the show and but also our intense shooting schedule, it was best not to go with him at this time.” Hurwitz added that Jack “did not get penciled into the final lineup. Prior to us making our decision, it was found out that the rigors of the show were too intense for him.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.