Amy Powell, a 14-year veteran of Paramount and president of Paramount TV, has been fired. Paramount’s CEO Jim Gianopulos explained in a statement that multiple employees came forward regarding comments the executive made “in a professional setting, which they believed were inconsistent with our company’s values.” Though the statement does not reveal what the comments were, The Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters tweeted that they allegedly included “racially tinged language.” Can someone please explain why it is so hard for executives to not do this?
Read below for Gianopulos’s full memo:
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.
Thank you for your continued hard work and ongoing contributions to this effort.
Update, 7/19, 10:14 p.m.: Masters has tweeted more information on the nature of the comments via an anonymous source: “I’m told she characterized black women in a way that was offensive to an employee listening in on a notes call for First Wives Club. Further when questioned she allegedly denied making those comments though others on the call said she did.” In a follow-up tweet Masters clarified, “I don’t know whether others listening on the call felt the comments were offensive.”
Update, 7/20, 12:29 a.m.: Amy Powell has issued a statement denying that she made insensitive comments, “There is no truth to the allegation that I made insensitive comments in a professional setting — or in any setting. The facts will come out and I will be vindicated.”
Meanwhile, Variety is reporting that a source close to Paramount says their investigation found that Powell had “made statements about black women being angry for various reasons” during a conference call regarding the new series First Wives Club. Variety’s source claims that Powell was allegedly acting irritated by the below tweet sent on June 28 by First Wives showrunner Tracy Oliver, who is African-American; however Oliver was not on the call in question.
Variety’s source also claims that Powell strongly denied she used racially charged language when confronted, but that the studio made the decision to fire her after talking to others who were on the call. She is now reportedly considering legal action.