Sofia Vergara Meets with 'AGT' to Fill Gabrielle Union's Seat

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Sofia Vergara is poised to fill one of the 2 seats that are open on "America's Got Talent" ... TMZ has learned.

Sources with direct knowledge tell TMZ ... Sofia met with 'AGT' honchos Wednesday for 2 hours. She was 20 minutes late for the meeting, but that didn't dissuade the decision-makers.

Our sources say Sofia had a big audience over at NBC, from Entertainment Prez Paul Telegdy on down. There were also members of Fremantle present, which produces 'AGT.'

As you know ... Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough were not invited back for the next installment of 'AGT.'

Our sources say although 'AGT' was top of mind, the honchos wanted to meet with Sofia on a variety of possible projects, including dramas and a possible Spanish language project -- NBC owns Telemundo.

"Modern Family" is in its last season, and we're told NBC wants to get into business with Sofia ... our sources say she's a "global star" who is an extremely versatile entertainer.

As we reported, Union has gone public, claiming 'AGT' has a toxic culture and she was fired after complaining. 'AGT' folks say they routinely rotate judges so nothing was out of the ordinary.

The next 'AGT' airs next month.

Orlando Jones I'm Fighting Same Battle as Gabrielle ... Execs Trying to Keep Us in Our Lane!!!

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NOT CHAMPIONING DIVERSITY
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Orlando Jones says he and Gabrielle Union now find themselves in the same boat ... speaking out against workplace injustice, and unfair firings, at the hands of the same production company.

The former "American Gods" star came on "TMZ Live" Tuesday to fill us in on his convo with Gabrielle ... after they initially connected through social media posts about his firing from the Starz drama.

'Gods' and 'AGT' are both produced by Fremantle Media, and Orlando says he and Gabby are in very similar situations -- they spoke up at work, and suddenly they were both shown the door. In his case, he says the trouble started with a dispute over his writing credit on 'Gods' ... as a member of the Writers Guild.

As we reported ... Gabrielle said she had no qualms risking her job in the name of fighting against misogyny and racism. She's urged others in her situation to NOT "be the happy negro that does the bidding of the status quo."

'Gods' execs did offer a public explanation for his firing, but watch ... he told us exactly why it doesn't add up.

Gabrielle Union Refuses to Be the 'Happy Negro' ... Finally Talks 'AGT' Firing

Gabrielle Union's speaking out publicly after her controversial firing from "America's Got Talent" ... urging others to risk it all, as she has, to fight misogyny and racism.

The actress spoke on a panel Monday morning, and urged the crowd to NOT "be the happy negro that does the bidding of the status quo." She never called out NBC or 'AGT' by name, but fans there for the panel -- Power of Inclusivity and the Women Leading the Charge -- knew exactly what she was referencing

Gabrielle added, "It's terrifying. There's a solid chance you'll lose your job ... I speak from experience." As we've reported ... Gabrielle feels she was fired because she complained to NBC and 'AGT' producers about racially insensitive situations on set -- including producers giving her excessive notes about her hair, wardrobe and physical appearance.

According to Variety, Gabrielle told the panel it's incumbent on her to speak up and do the right thing ... never mind the company writing those checks. She said, "How many checks do I need? This financial freedom, they're shackles, masquerading as zeros in my bank account."

She added, "As long as I have air in my lungs, I will always try to cover us all and I will certainly try to center the needs of the most marginalized."

Waka Flocka Flame Gabrielle's Firing Was Racist, IMO ... Black People Should Boycott 'AGT'!!!

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BITE THE BULLET

Waka Flocka Flame believes there were clear racial motives behind Gabrielle Union's 'AGT' firing, and says it's now on the black community to stop supporting companies that have problems with the culture.

Gabrielle's feud with 'AGT' is striking a chord with Waka, and he unloaded when we got him in Atlanta -- telling us he's proud of Gabrielle for speaking out about what was allegedly going down at 'AGT.'

As you know ... Gabrielle feels she was given the boot because she complained to NBC and 'AGT' producers about racially insensitive situations on set -- including producers giving her excessive notes about her hair, wardrobe and physical appearance.

Waka says Gabby's a role model -- because black people in similar situations need to push back and stand up for themselves when someone asks them to change who they are.

KEEPIN' IT LIGHT
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Gabrielle also had issues with Jay Leno joking about Koreans eating dogs while he was guest judging. Jay won't say if the joke is racist, and has been mostly mum on the whole controversy.

We ask Waka if we're living in a society that treats racism as a joke, and he says anyone over 40 who is still acting racist is "f***ed up," and needs to stop teaching racism to younger generations.

Pretty fascinating conversation, and Waka doesn't hold back at all.

Jay Leno Calls Gabrielle Union a 'Great Girl' ... Mum on 'AGT' Firing Her

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Jay Leno's trying like hell to put a positive spin on the firestorm around Gabrielle Union's 'AGT' firing and his role in it, but for the most part ... he's at a loss for words.

Leno was asked point-blank Sunday night about Gabrielle calling him out to 'AGT' producers for making a joke about Koreans eating dog. On his way out of the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, CA ... Jay would only say he enjoyed working with Gabrielle, and she's a "great girl."

As for Gabrielle, and others, labeling his joke racist ... Jay pleaded the Fifth, but in his own unique way.

As we've reported, prior to her firing, Gabrielle complained to 'AGT' honchos about the workplace environment -- due to Leno's joke and what she reportedly called "excessive notes" from producers about her hair, wardrobe and appearance.

The insinuation from Gabrielle's camp is she was fired because she complained.

The photog asks Leno if he thinks Union was treated fairly -- he's refusing to commit one way or another.

Either way, her firing has garnered a lot of attention, and SAG-AFTRA has even announced it's investigating the matter ... but so far, it has nothing to report.

Kodi Lee Full Support from 'AGT' ... No Restrictions on Performances

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"America's Got Talent" is not going to get in the way of Kodi Lee entertaining folks in his hometown, because producers know that's what helped make him a star ... and he's still gotta make a living.

Production sources at 'AGT' tell TMZ ... there's nothing in his contract keeping the 22-year-old from performing local shows in Southern California, even though he was awarded the "golden buzzer" pass from Gabrielle Union to ensure his spot in the competition's live shows.

We're told as long as Kodi shows up for his scheduled 'AGT' events and filming dates -- and isn't intentionally seeking press for an unfair advantage -- he's free to perform any previously scheduled live concerts and gigs.

As one source put it ... many 'AGT' contestants make a living off their art, so it wouldn't be right for the show to keep them from that.

We broke the story ... Kodi's breakout 'AGT' moment has created a huge buzz for his upcoming shows with the cover band Midnight Satellites, with whom he's been playing for a while.

Owners of 2 separate venues in Riverside County tell us Kodi's scheduled performances have fans in a frenzy, and fortunately, the Old Town Blues Club will have doubled its seating capacity for its July 6 show featuring Lee.

As for 'AGT' ... since Kodi's already advanced past the auditions stage, he won't be back on stage until the live shows kick off in August.

But, we'll probably hear about him plenty 'til then.

'AGT' Star Kodi Lee Golden Buzzer Has Him Buzzin' ... Local Shows a Hot Ticket!!!

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Kodi Lee -- the blind, autistic "America's Got Talent" contestant who wowed judges with his incredible performance -- has caused a fan frenzy at 2 SoCal spots where he's already a rock star.

Kodi's amazing breakthrough moment on the show this week culminated with new judge Gabrielle Union using her first-ever golden buzzer to ensure his spot in the competition's live shows. Fans in his hometown can't wait until then.

Paul Little, the owner of The Shamrock Irish Pub in Murrieta, CA ... says Kodi's been entertaining at the bar for 4 years, and they've known all along what America just found out.

Paul tells us Kodi has a gig with the Temecula-based cover band, Midnight Satellites, scheduled for June 7, but after his 'AGT' appearance ... it's become a WAY bigger deal.

The owner says they've been flooded with calls for reservations, and the pub had to send out a message to regulars to reserve spots ... because the venue's almost totally booked.

Kodi and Midnight Satellites have another show at the Old Town Blues Club on July 6, and its owner, Andy Doty, tells us they're preparing for it to be "insane."

Doty says Kodi's already a local legend and always plays to a packed house, but the club's expanding its capacity -- from 75 to 200 people -- and will be ready in time for Kodi's band to rock.

Other changes for the show -- a cover charge (they're not dumb), and extra security for the much larger crowd.

If you're wondering, the band plays a variety of rock, blues and funk songs to showcase Kodi's range.

Probably a good bet they'll play Donny Hathaway's "A Song For You." The whole world knows Kodi has that one down pat.

'AGT' Singer Skilyr Hicks Busted for Underage Boozing

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Cops busted a former "America's Got Talent" singer for underage drinking ... TMZ has learned.

20-year-old Skilyr Hicks is still in custody in Findlay, OH and is facing one count of "sale to/use by underage person" ... according to her booking info. Law enforcement sources tell TMZ she was arrested Tuesday for underage consumption and intoxication, and charged with a misdemeanor.

The alleged boozing went down in October, but for some reason a warrant for her arrest was just issued this week.

Hicks also spent some time in a Georgia jail in April 2017 for allegedly assaulting 3 family members -- including her grandmother -- after coming home intoxicated.

She reportedly injured her older sister and blew a .126 after police responded to the call. She was charged with domestic violence.

Skilyr wowed the judges during Season 8 auditions of 'AGT' when she was just 14 years old, by playing and singing an original song.

Her performance and touching story about teaching herself to play music after losing her father made her a fan favorite, but she was eliminated before the live shows in NYC.

Super Bowl LIII NFL Hires ATL R&B Group!!! But, Not for Halftime Show

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The NFL is finally caving to pressure and booking an ATL-based musical act for Super Bowl LIII, but fans hoping to see local culture in the halftime show will still be disappointed ... TMZ has learned.

The R&B act is a group called Final Draft and, while the Super Bowl is a huge score for them ... they'll be more of a side act at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. As you know, Maroon 5 is holding court as the halftime headliner -- a decision many fans and even artists, like Waka Flocka, blasted the league for making.

The feeling is the NFL's missing out on showcasing Atlanta's hugely popular and successful hip-hop scene.

We're told Final Draft will perform at the Players Tailgate party, about 3 blocks away from the stadium. No tickets are needed, just show up and enjoy. The group will also perform later at the GameDay Fan Plaza ... which, at least, is inside the stadium.

Prior to this, Final Draft's big break came on season 12 of "America's Got Talent" where they reached the quarterfinals -- and they've also appeared on Wendy Williams' show.

As we first reported, Cardi B was in negotiations to join Maroon 5 for part of the halftime show. As far as we know, that's still in play.

So, we're saying there's still hope for hip-hop at SB LIII.

Nick Cannon Unlike 'AGT,' FOX Loves My Turban On New Late Night Show

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Nick Cannon's getting a warm welcome at FOX for his new late night TV show, and so is his turban ... TMZ has learned.

Sources close to the situation tell TMZ ... Nick will rock his signature headgear without concern or pushback from the network. That wasn't the case in the latter part of his nearly 10-year run as host of "America's Got Talent" on NBC.

Sources said the Peacock Network wasn't jibing with his look on 'AGT,' and unleashed its wrath on him over a "black card" joke he made during a Showtime comedy special.

That dispute led to Nick quitting 'AGT', and leaving millions on the table.

As for his new FOX gig, we're told it has to be a weekly show, because Nick is currently finishing up his master's degree at Howard University. When he's done, it'll free him up to do a nightly show. We're told the show's set to debut in early 2019.

The premise of the show ... think "community party" for every episode.

'AGT' Finalist Michael Ketterer Avoids Charges After DV Arrest ... Gets Talking-To Instead

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"America's Got Talent" finalist Michael Ketterer will not be charged after getting arrested last week for domestic violence ... TMZ has learned.

The L.A. City Attorney's Office tells us it's declined to file charges against Ketterer, and has instead opted to hold a City Attorney hearing for the 'AGT' singer. The hearing is often used as an alternative to criminal prosecution for low-level crimes.

We're told the Office looked at the evidence in Ketterer's case, and decided a hearing would be the best route. During the hearing, Ketterer will receive counseling on domestic violence, violence prevention and warned of the consequences for any repeat violations. It's essentially a stern talking-to.

ARREST FOOTAGE
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TMZ broke the story ... Ketterer was put in cuffs last Thursday in Hollywood after cops were called to a hotel where he and his wife were staying. When officers arrived, they saw a visible red mark on Ketterer's wife, and arrested him for felony domestic violence.

Our law enforcement sources tell us cops had to book Ketterer for felony DV due to the mark, but the charge was being reduced to a misdemeanor because the injury was minor.

Michael told us the whole thing was a "misunderstanding" and that his wife didn't want to press charges.

'AGT' Finalist Arrested for Domestic Violence ... Video in Cuffs

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2:35 PM PT -- We've obtained video of Ketterer in custody outside of the hotel he was arrested at talking with an officer.

ARREST FOOTAGE
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Michael Ketterer -- who finished in 5th place on this season's "America's Got Talent" -- has been arrested for felony domestic violence.

Ketterer was taken into custody Thursday afternoon by the LAPD in Hollywood. Law enforcement sources tell us ... he got into a fight with his wife, and when cops showed up they noticed she had a visible red mark.

We're told he was cuffed and booked for a felony because of the injury. Ketterer was released after posting $50k bail.

Michael tells us ... the arrest was a big "misunderstanding." He admits he and his wife got into an argument in their hotel room and cops were called, but she told them she didn't want to press charges. Ketterer says they arrested him anyway, telling him the law's the law.

Law enforcement sources tell us, the case will be downgraded to a misdemeanor because the injury was so minor. We're told the case will be referred to the L.A. City Attorney.

The 5th place finisher on season 13 of 'AGT' made headlines when Simon Cowell hit the Golden Buzzer during his audition, which advanced him right to the live shows. He later moved Cowell to tears during his quarterfinals performance ... after revealing his wife and daughter almost died during childbirth.

Originally published -- 1:11 PM PT

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