Paramount Pictures fired its top television executive Thursday for making comments that have been described as racial in tone.
In a memo to staff, Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos said Amy Powell had been terminated for remarks that were “inconsistent with company values.”
Powell made the comments last week in “a professional setting,” Variety reported.
Gianopulos said “multiple individuals” came forward to complain, adding that the company investigated and decided to end Powell’s employment.
“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 said in the memo.
Powell later released a statement to TheWrap denying she had acted inappropriately.
“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,” she said.
Gianopulos’ memo didn’t indicate what exactly Powell was alleged to have said, but it didn’t take long for details to leak.
A source told Variety Paramount’s investigation found Powell made statements about black women being angry during a conference call about Paramount’s adaptation of the movie First Wives Club. The TV project is being led by Tracy Oliver, an African-American executive producer.
Insiders said Powell was upset about a tweet Oliver posted on June 28 complaining about race and the show’s casting process.
“Had a moment today that REALLY pointed out why we need representation across the board,” Oliver tweeted. “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?”
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?
— Tracy Y. Oliver (@TracyYOliver) June 28, 2018
Two weeks earlier, Oliver tweeted about her excitement over the project.
“First day of FWC writers room! Grateful to have my own show,” she wrote.
Powell was promoted to Paramount TV president in 2013. Among the projects she oversaw were The Alienist and 13 Reasons Why.