By Ryan Velez
The Grio reports that Paramount TV President, Amy Powell, was fired following racially-charged comments she made over a conference call. While we don’t know the exact words that were said, the context revolved around a planned reboot of The First Wives Club with a mostly-black cast penned by Tracy Oliver. Oliver would originally blow the lid off of Powell’s comments via Twitter on June 28th.
“Had a moment today that REALLY pointed out why we need representation across the board. A black female voice doesn’t matter if the decision makers don’t understand nor even want to understand what you’re saying. Where’s the #metoo for race sh*t out here?”
Following her termination, Powell sent out a memo via her publicist, reading as follows. “There is no truth to the allegation that I made insensitive comments in a professional setting — or in any setting,” she said. “The facts will come out and I will be vindicated.” This is a bit hard to believe, considering that Paramount was willing to move so quickly.
Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos made a formal announcement and explanation of the decision to fire Powell this Thursday:
“Last week, multiple individuals came to us to raise concerns around comments made by Amy Powell in a professional setting, which they believed were inconsistent with our company’s values. Having spent the past several days conducting a thorough investigation into this matter and speaking to those who were present, our Human Resources and Legal teams came to the same conclusion, and we have made the decision to terminate Amy’s employment, effective immediately.
Amy has made lasting contributions to Paramount in her 14 years with the company, including building a world-class team at Paramount TV. While it is incredibly difficult to part ways with a valued member of our community, it is imperative that we uphold our values and ensure that all employees feel safe and included in the workplace.
We will begin immediately looking for Amy’s replacement. In the interim, Andrew Gumpert, Paramount’s Chief Operating Officer, will provide operational support and Mireille Soria, Brian Robbins and Wyck Godfrey — Presidents of Paramount Animation, Paramount Players and Paramount Motion Picture Group, respectively — will provide creative input, where needed, to the incredibly talented Paramount TV team, which is very well-placed to continue the incredible growth of this division.
Importantly, I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the type of company and culture we’re committed to building at Paramount. It’s one of inclusion, honesty and accountability – where diversity is critical to ensuring that all ideas, backgrounds and perspectives are embraced and respected.
We will continue this conversation in smaller groups and on a companywide scale in the coming months and, in the meantime, I want us to take stock of where we are and explore what more we can do to foster a safe, supportive and inclusive workplace. Through direct engagement and an open dialogue, my hope is that we can undertake this progress together, in an environment where each and every one of our employees feels heard and valued.
Thank you for your continued hard work and ongoing contributions to this effort.