A few hours ago Paramount Pictures announced that Paramount Television president Amy Powell had been fired after making “racially charged” statements that were “inconsistent” with the studio’s values.
According to The Hollywood Reporter‘s Kim Masters and Lesley Goldberg, “the inciting incident occurred during a studio notes call for Paramount Network’s First Wives Club reboot, which is being penned by Girls Trip co-writer Tracy Oliver and will feature a predominantly black cast.” Powell allegedly expressed “generalizations about black women that struck some on the call as offensive.”
“A complaint was filed to human resources” which investigated the claims with the legal department and those involved on the notes call. Sources say Paramount considered discipline but decided to to fire Powell after she denied the allegations.” In other words, if Powell had confessed to racial insensitivity and/or p.c. wrongdoing and then begged for forgiveness she might have been spared the guillotine.
(l.) Former Paramount Television prexy Amy Powell; (r.) First Wives Club writer Tracy Oliver.
Nobody has ever attained a high position of power and influence within a big studio without being extra careful about what to say, how to say it and whom to say it to at all times. Especially in this highly sensitive era when a single clumsily chosen word or phrase or the slightest indication of a politically incorrect sentiment on Twitter can land you in a heap of trouble.
What could Powell have said that ignited such a tempest? Sooner or later someone has to leak what it was that Powell actually said along with some context about what she apparently meant and how she might have put it more cautiously or sensitively.
Powell quote to L.A. Times: “There is no truth to the allegation that I made insensitive comments in a professional setting, or in any setting,” she said in a statement. “The facts will come out and I will be vindicated.”
Paramount Pictures chairman Jim Gianopulos told studio staffers in a memo that Powell was terminated Thursday after complaints from other employees sparked an investigation into her remarks.
“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,” Gianopulos wrote. “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.”