Paramount Television president Amy Powell was fired by the studio Thursday for inappropriate comments "inconsistent" with Paramount Pictures and Viacom's values. Powell later denied making racially insensitive remarks, insisting she "will be vindicated."
"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," Powell said in a statement to The Wrap.
"Multiple individuals had concerns "around comments" Powell made in a "professional setting, which they believed were inconsistent" with Paramount parent company Viacom's values, Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos said in an internal memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
"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," Gianopulos wrote in the memo.
Sources told THR the incident happened while the studio was discussing a proposed First Wives Club reboot for Paramount Network, which Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip) is writing and will have a cast with black stars. Powell reportedly made generalized comments about black women, which offended those at the call. Human resources received a complaint, and an investigation was launched.
At first, Paramount considered disciplining Powell, but the studio chose to fire her when she denied the allegations.
"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," Gianopulos wrote.
The fledgling Paramount TV unit will now be led by Paramount Animation president Mireille Soria, Paramount Players chief Brian Robbins and Paramount Motion Picture Group president Wyck Godfrey, with Paramount COO Andrew Gumpert until a permanent replacement can be found.
Paramount TV has helped turn some of Paramount's IPs into TV shows, including Jack Ryan for Amazon and School of Rock for Nickelodeon. The studio is also behind TNT's The Alientist; Netflix's 13 Reasons Why, F Is For Family and the upcoming Emma Stone series Maniac; and Freeform's Girls Code.
Powell was also instrumental in attracting George Clooney to be involved in its Catch-22 series for Hulu. Clooney will direct and produce the series, and has a supporting role.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Powell joined Paramount in 2004 after previously working for Sony Pictures' interactive marketing.0comments
Powell is the second television executive fired in recent weeks for insensitive comments. On June 22, Netflix fired its PR chief, Jonathan Friedland, for using the n-word at company events.
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