Tan France Denies He Tried to Replace Bobby Berk with Jeremiah Brent on “Queer Eye”

“My former colleague getting fired had nothing to do with me trying to get my friend hired," France says in an Instagram video, days after 'Rolling Stone' reported that he had a hand in Berk's exit

<p>Jon Kopaloff/Getty, Emma McIntyre/Getty</p> Tan France and Bobby Berk

Jon Kopaloff/Getty, Emma McIntyre/Getty

Tan France and Bobby Berk

Tan France is speaking out about claims that he had a hand in Bobby Berk's departure from Queer Eye.

According to a Rolling Stone story published Tuesday, three unnamed sources reportedly told the outlet that France “campaigned to replace Berk” with Jeremiah Brent with “alleged support” from castmate Antoni Porowski.

In an Instagram Reel posted Friday morning, France disputed those allegations.

“Yes I’ve heard what’s going on and I just want to address one point, real quick,” the fashion expert begins in the video. “My former colleague getting fired had nothing to do with me trying to get my friend hired. Netflix, the production companies, did a full on casting. I didn’t pop my friend up for the job.”

Brent, who’s taking over Berk’s spot as the series’ interior design guru, was, according to France, chosen because he’s “the best person for the job." The streaming service made the announcement on Feb. 27, three months after Berk first announced he’d be exiting the show.

Brent, who has starred with his husband and fellow designer Nate Berkus on HGTV’s Nate & Jeremiah by Design and The Nate and Jeremiah Home Project, has also appeared on Netflix’s Say I Do, from the same creators as Queer Eye. France was a guest on Brent’s podcast in April.

“Am I so happy that they have the job?” France asks. “Uh huh, I really am. I think they’re going to be incredible on the show, but I didn’t get them hired by getting rid of somebody else.”

“This all started because of a comment on a gossip blog that just got reposted and reposted and then it’s almost become gospel,” France continues. “So from the horse’s mouth, I’m telling you that that’s not at all how it went down. And that’s all I’ll say on the matter. We need to dig deeper if you still don’t believe it, but believe me, that’s it.”

A representative for Netflix did not reply to PEOPLE's request for comment on Friday.

Amy Sussman/Getty
Amy Sussman/Getty

Related: Tan France Reportedly 'Campaigned' to Replace Bobby Berk with Jeremiah Brent on Queer Eye

While France says in his video that Berk was “fired," Berk previously said he opted not to renew his contract on his own.

In January, Berk told Vanity Fair that when he and his costars, who also include Jonathan Van Ness and Karamo Brown, finished filming season eight in New Orleans, he thought the show was wrapping up, since the seven-cycle contract they’d signed ended in September 2022.

On the last day of filming, he said, “the Fab Five and the crew, we all stood there, and we took pictures and cried. We thought we were done. Mentally and emotionally, I thought we all moved on. I know I did, and I started planning other things.”

However, due to the SAG/AFTRA strike, Netflix was looking for original content and renewed Queer Eye. 

Related: Jonathan Van Ness Accused of Having 'Rage Issues' on Queer Eye Set: Report

“We’d just assumed that the show wouldn’t come back if we all didn’t come back,” Berk said. “I was like, I’m not going to be having FOMO ’cause the show is not going to happen. I had become at peace with it.”

But then the show’s other four stars decided to renew their contracts.

“There were definitely emotions,” Berk said. “But each one of us had our reasons why we did what we did. I can’t be mad — for a second I was.”

<p>Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty</p> Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, Tan France and Karamo Brown

Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty

Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, Tan France and Karamo Brown

In the Vanity Fair interview, Berk also admitted to a rift with France.

“I hope this interview will help extinguish some of the speculation,” Berk said. “I want people to know that Tan and I — we will be fine.”

While he acknowledged there was a "situation" between him and France and he’d unfollowed France on Instagram as a result, he said they’d moved past it.

“Tan and I had a moment,” Berk said. “There was a situation, and that’s between Tan and I, and it has nothing to do with the show. It was something personal that had been brewing — and nothing romantic, just to clarify that.”

“Should I have unfollowed Tan? No,” Berk continued. “Maybe I should have just muted him. But that day, I was angry, and that’s the end of it. We became like siblings — and siblings are always going to fight.”

<p>Neilson Barnard/Getty; Joe Maher/WireImage</p>

Neilson Barnard/Getty; Joe Maher/WireImage

Berk announced his exit from Queer Eye in November, with a message to the show’s fans on Instagram.

“The love that I have received from you all over the last 6 years has been absolutely surreal,” he wrote. “You have tuned in and been dedicated fans and together we were able to share the healing powers of design. I learned from you all about kindness, love and acceptance and that has changed my life for the better. The way you have embraced me and accepted me for who I am is something that l will truly carry with me for the rest of my life.”

He thanked the "die-hard fans" of Queer Eye and praised the show’s “wonderful, loving, amazing, and brave” heroes before he officially confirmed he was leaving the series: “It’s with a heavy heart that I announce that season 8 will be my final season on Queer Eye. It’s not been an easy decision to be at peace with, but a necessary one. Although my journey with Queer Eye is over, my journey with you is not. You will be seeing more of me very soon.”

<p>Rob Kim/Getty</p>

Rob Kim/Getty

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He concluded, “I love you all so so much and I’ll meet you all in Nola for one final season. #foreverthefab5”

Shortly after the announcement, a source close to the situation told PEOPLE Berk had no hard feelings toward his costars. “Bobby’s departure is unrelated to relationships with his castmates,” the source said. “The parting was amicable.” 

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