America might still have talent, but Nick Cannon will no longer be overseeing it.
The “Drumline” actor, who has hosted NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” for the past eight seasons, announced in a lengthy Facebook post Monday (Feb. 13) that he would not be returning to the reality competition series.
Cannon made the decision to exit the franchise amid controversy over a racially charged joke he told in his recent Showtime stand-up special “Stand Up, Don’t Shoot.” According to Cannon, executives at NBC believed he “disparaged the brand” and later threatened to terminate his contract.
“After days of deliberating over some extremely disappointing news that I was being threatened with termination by Executives because of a comedy special that was only intended to bring communities closer together, I was to be punished for a joke,” he wrote on Instagram and Facebook. “This has weighed heavy on my spirit. It was brought to my attention by my ‘team’ that NBC believed that I was in breach of contract because I had disparaged their brand. In my defense, I would ask how so? Or is this just another way to silence and control an outspoken voice who often battles the establishment.”
In his stand-up special, which premiered on Showtime Friday (Feb. 10), Cannon reportedly riffs on his experience hosting “America’s Got Talent” and how the series has changed his core fanbase.
“I honestly believe, once I started doing ‘America’s Got Talent,’ they took my real n****r card. They did! Because then, like, these type of people started showing up to my shows,” Cannon said in the special, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “I can’t do the real n*****r stuff no more, because then they’ll put me on TMZ.”
He also added that NBC stood for “N****r Better Come on” and that the network didn’t allow him to speak freely at risk of losing “white money.”
“I find myself in a dark place having to make a decision that I wish I didn’t have to, but as a man, an artist, and a voice for my community, I will not be silenced, controlled or treated like a piece of property,” he continued in the post. “There is no amount of money worth my dignity or my integrity. I have loved hosting AMERICAS GOT TALENT for the last 8 seasons, watching talented, brave, and courageous Americans accomplish their dreams in front of millions has been nothing but a joy, and everyone has been a pleasure to work with but my soul won’t allow me to be in business with corporations that attempt to frown on freedom of speech, censor artists, and question cultural choices.”