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The Schmooze

Nick Cannon may be headed back to ViacomCBS

Ousted in July from ViacomCBS for anti-Semitic comments, actor Nick Cannon may be back in the media conglomerate’s good graces after a lengthy learning tour.

In an internal town hall on Monday, Chris McCarthy, president of entertainment and youth brands at ViacomCBS, commended Cannon’s efforts to overcome his biases and hinted that the network was open to working with him again, Variety reported.

“I struggle with the fact that Nick, a longtime partner and friend of ours, is on this journey and we’re not part of that journey,” McCarthy said.

CBS Viacom terminated its relationship with Cannon after the actor made anti-Semitic comments on a June 30 episode of his podcast “Cannon’s Class.” During the episode, in which he interviewed Professor Griff, a former member of the rap group Public Enemy, Cannon promoted conspiracy theories about the Rothschild family and argued that people of African descent are the “true Jews.”

“You can’t be anti-Semitic when we are the Semitic people,” he said.

In the wake of his firing Cannon was defensive, publishing a lengthy Facebook statement in which he accused Viacom CBS of trying to “make an example of an outspoken black man” even as he apologized for the Jewish community for “putting them in such a painful position, which was never my intention.”

But since then, Cannon has spoken publicly and at length with several Jewish leaders, far exceeding the tepid gestures towards teshuva made by most celebrities accused of bias.

He got a crash course in anti-Semitism from Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and later hosted the rabbi on his podcast. During the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’av, he participated in a full day of “fasting, meditation, study and prayer” and delivered a Facebook book report on Bari Weiss’s book “How to Fight Anti Semitism.” He even revealed that his great-grandfather was a Sephardic rabbi in a video interview with Rabbi Noam Marans of the American Jewish Committee.

McCarthy said that Cannon’s interrogation of his own prejudice was “consistent” with the strong character he demonstrated in his years-long partnership with ViacomCBS.

“He apologized, he said it was wrong,” McCarthy said. “He has since been on a journey of learning and understanding, and more importantly, he is using his voice to help educate other people and is becoming an advocate on this issue.”

A source within ViacomCBS told Variety that while McCarthy and Cannon have spoken, there are no formal plans for the actor to return to the network.

Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @katz_conn.

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