Universal Pictures has settled with Frank Davis, the African-American first assistant director who’d filed a racial discrimination lawsuit over his getting fired off 2 Fast 2 Furious. It’s rough getting canned — it can really hurt — but when I read the comments of Universal production executive Andrew Fenady, as passed along by L.A. Times reporter Lorenza Munoz, I couldn’t help but go “hmmm.”
Fenady testified that doubts about Davis’s work performance “arose before he was aware [he] was African American. Fenady said his concern mounted when he attended a meeting in August 2002, after Davis was hired, during which the first assistant director seemed to lack ‘command’ of how complex scenes would be coordinated.
“By September, when filming began in Miami, production staff told Fenady that Davis was ‘a weak link,’ and that the production was going to suffer, Fenady said. In a movie, the first assistant is a key liaison among the director, the crew and the production staff.
“Fenady said that on the third day of principal photography the set was in ‘sheer and total chaos.’
“But the clincher for him came when the studio’s transportation captain said to him that Davis was ‘going to get someone killed out here,’ Fenady testified.
“Fenady said he flew back to Los Angeles and immediately reported this to his boss. Davis was fired a few days later.”