Fired for allegedly making racially insensitive remarks during a company meeting, Paramount TV President Amy Powell was fired Thursday after denying the allegations. According to those who attended the meeting, Powell allegedly made offensive generalizations about black women while discussing Paramount Network’s “First Wives Club” reboot.
In an internal memo to staff, Paramount Pictures Chairman Jim Gianopulos wrote,
“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.”
“There is no truth to the allegation that I made insensitive comments in a professional setting — or in any setting,” Powell immediately responded in a statement on Thursday. “The facts will come out and I will be vindicated.”
Powell’s comments were reportedly made in response to a tweet made by “First Wives Club” showrunner Tracy Oliver last month. On June 28, Oliver tweeted, “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 shit out here?”
Powell is the latest high-profile executive to be ousted for making racially insensitive remarks since John Schnatter was recently forced to resign from Papa John’s Pizza and former chief communications officer Jonathan Friedland was fired from Netflix.