Amy Powell, the head of the entertainment giant Paramount Pictures’ TV division, has been fired over comments she made in a conference call, which sources told The Hollywood Reporter included “racially charged” language.
Powell, who had overseen Paramount TV since 2013, was dismissed after an internal investigation into her comments, prompted by a series of complaints. She has denied making insensitive comments.
Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos announced her dismissal to the staff on Thursday in a memo obtained and published by The Hollywood Reporter.
Gianopulos’ memo said “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” and serious enough to warrant immediate termination.
Gianopulos’ memo did not specify what Powell said or the exact context.
Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the source of the complaints was racially charged comments she made in a conference call to discuss a comedy series in which most actors are black.
Per the Hollywood Reporter story:
“According to sources, the comments included racially charged language. Sources say the inciting incident occurred during a studio notes call for Paramount Network’s ‘First Wives Club’ reboot, which is being penned by ‘Girls Trip’ co-writer Tracy Oliver and will feature a predominantly black cast.
“Powell, who is said to have been a favorite of Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, allegedly made generalizations about black women that struck some on the call as offensive.”
Powell has disputed the claims. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, she said: “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.”
Business Insider has contacted Powell and Viacom, Paramount’s parent company, for further comment.