Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos announced firing Amy Powell, the former vice president of Paramount’s Television vertical, in a memo to staff last Thursday.
“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,” the memo stated.
The investigation revealed that Black women came forward and filed complaints with Paramount’s Human Resources department about racist comments Powell made in a professional setting. Though the comments weren’t specified, a source confirmed that Powell remarked about anger specific to Black women on a conference call. A recorded call.
Specifically, the conference call was about an upcoming TV show based on the 1996 movie “The First Wives Club.”
The reboot was being written by TV writer extraordinaire, Tracy Oliver, who co-wrote the incredibly successful “Girl’s Trip.” Unlike the 1996 hit movie, which featured an all-white cast, the TV show was slated to feature a more diverse lineup.
In June Oliver tweeted:
Several hours after the news of her firing got out, Powell last Thursday issued a statement disputing the charges.
“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.”
Powell is exploring possible legal action against Paramount over her termination.
While a “zero-tolerance” narrative for racism and sexism appears to be being pushed by Hollywood and the media, Powell’s dismissal wasn’t, initially, due to her comments. In fact, she was merely going to be reprimanded until she denied the allegations.
Paramount doesn’t exactly look like the pillar of diversity. The white male-dominated executive board seemed to minimize racism in the workplace. After all, Powell could have remained in her cushy position had she played the game. So it wasn’t the actual commentary that Paramount deemed was grounds for termination. It was Powell’s denial of accountability. After all, multiple people filed complaints against her.