- Amy Powell, the former head of Paramount Television, was fired last week.
- A company-wide memo from Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos said the termination was for comments Powell made in a call.
- Gianopulos did not specify what she said, but sources told The Hollywood Reporter that it was “ racially charged” commentary on black people.
- Powell disputes this explanation. Her lawyers have said that part of the reason she was fired was her gender.
- They said: “The fact that [Paramount] pushed her out the door after a spurious two-day ‘investigation’ raises serious questions about their real motives.”
The former president of Paramount Pictures’ TV division has claimed that suggestions she was fired for making “racially charged” comments are false, and that the real motive for her dismissal could have been her gender.
Amy Powell, who was dismissed from her position last week, claimed that “gender bias” may be at the root of her departure.
Her boss, Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos, told staff in a company-wide memo that she was being terminated after an internal investigation found that she made comments in breach of company values.
He did not specify what the comments were, but unnamed sources told The Hollywood Reporter that they were “racially charged” remarks about black people, linked to an upcoming show with a majority black cast.
Powell disputes this. A statement from her attorney, again to The Hollywood Reporter, said: “Paramount’s ready-fire-aim strategy has nothing to do with promoting diversity, fostering conversations in and out of the creative process, or Amy Powell’s actual conduct, which has always been impeccable.”
The statement continued: “Notably, this is not the first time the Gianopulos regime at Paramount has pushed out a highly regarded female executive under questionable circumstances.”
Freedman said he is looking into potential claims of wrongful termination and defamation against Paramount.
A statement from a Paramount spokesperson denied that gender had been a factor.
It said: “It’s unfortunate that Mr. Freedman has opted to employ a baseless gender bias argument during a time when real, bona fide claims of that nature are being addressed throughout our industry.
“While we never take the decision to terminate employment lightly, we are confident in our decision with respect to Ms. Powell.”
Gianopulos’ memo which announced Powell’s termination said that “multiple individuals” had complained about comments Powell made in a “professional setting.” He said an investigation by the company’s human resources and legal departments concluded that what she said was “inconsistent with our company’s values.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter’s sources, the comments came in a call about an upcoming remake of “First Wives Club” which will have a majority-black cast.
The news outlet described the comments like this:
“Powell’s comments are said to have been racially insensitive, including references to African-American females being ‘angry’ over black men dating white women and black men having ‘mummy issues’ because they are raised by ‘single mothers.'”
Powell has denied making any offensive comment.
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