Nick Cannon and ViacomCBS have reunited following the company’s decision to fire the “Wild ‘N Out” host last summer over comments he made on his podcast, which they said “promoted hateful speech and spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”
“Nick has not only apologized and taken responsibility for his comments, but he has also worked to educate himself and others through engagement with Jewish leaders and on his platforms,” an MTV Entertainment Group spokesperson told TheWrap in a statement Thursday. “Those efforts are of the utmost importance and that’s why we have invited him to rejoin our team. On a separate note, we just learned that he tested positive for COVID and have reached out to wish him a speedy recovery.”
Representatives for Cannon — whose positive COVID-19 result was revealed Wednesday, when it was confirmed Niecy Nash would be filling in for him as host of the first few episodes of Season 5 of “The Masked Singer” — did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment Thursday.
Production on new episodes of Cannon’s “Wild ‘N Out” are expected to resume in the future, though no timetable has been given, and VH1 will return to broadcasting reruns of the long-running series this week, an individual with knowledge tells TheWrap.
ViacomCBS initially cut ties with Cannon on July 14, 2020 following an episode of his podcast “Cannon’s Class” in which he interviewed former Public Enemy member Richard “Professor Griff” Griffin — who himself was fired from the group for making anti-Semitic comments in a 1989 interview — and repeatedly referenced fringe conspiracy theories about Jewish people controlling banking as well as major media companies.
“While we support ongoing education and dialogue in the fight against bigotry, we are deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating anti-Semitism, and we are terminating our relationship with him,” a ViacomCBS spokesperson said in a statement at the time.
Cannon responded to the firing the following morning in a lengthy Facebook post in which he demanded “full ownership” of “Wild ‘N Out” and an apology from ViacomCBS. Cannon also said that he reached out to Shari Redstone, who controls ViacomCBS through her National Amusements, Inc. company, “to have a conversation of reconciliation and actually apologize if I said anything that pained or hurt her or her community.”
Later that day, Cannon issued an apology for the remarks he had made on his podcast.
“First and foremost I extend my deepest and most sincere apologies to my Jewish sisters and brothers for the hurtful and divisive words that came out of my mouth during my interview with Richard Griffin,” Cannon tweeted. “They reinforced the worst stereotypes of a proud and magnificent people and I feel ashamed of the uninformed and naïve place that these words came from. The video of this interview has since been removed.”
“While the Jewish experience encompasses more than 5,000 years and there is so much I have yet to learn, I have had at least a minor history lesson over the past few days and to say that it is eye-opening would be a vast understatement.”
“I want to express my gratitude to the Rabbis, community leaders and institutions who reached out to me to help enlighten me, instead of chastising me.”
He concluded: “I want to assure my Jewish friends, new and old, that this is only the beginning of my education-I am committed to deeper connections, more profound learning and strengthening the bond between our two cultures today and every day going forward.”
In the months since, Cannon — who retained his gig as host of Fox’s “The Masked Singer” — has spent a considerable amount of time engaging and partnering with Jewish leaders and in an attempt to make amends for the comments.