*Amy Powell is suddenly out as the president of Paramount Television after reportedly saying some inappropriate things about black women during a conference call.
Five years after being tapped to lead the newly relaunched TV division, Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos announced Thursday via an internal memo that “multiple individuals” raised “concerns around comments” made by Powell in a “professional setting, which they believed were inconsistent” with Viacom’s values.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the comments included racially charged language spoken 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 allegedly made generalizations about black women that struck some on the call as offensive, according to THR. A complaint was filed to human resources, who with the legal department, investigated the claims and those involved on the notes call. Sources say Paramount considered discipline but decided to fire Powell after she denied the allegations.
“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,” Gianopulos wrote.
Given the sudden nature of her firing, a search for Powell’s replacement will begin shortly. In the interim, Paramount COO Andrew Gumpert will oversee operational support, while Mireille Soria, Brian Robbins and Wyck Godfrey — presidents of Paramount Animation, Paramount Players and Paramount Motion Picture Group, respectively — will help lead the studio’s team.
Hours after Gianopulos’ memo to staff, Powell denied the allegations in a statement sent by her personal PR: “There is no truth to the allegation that I made insensitive comments in a professional setting — or in any setting,” she said. “The facts will come out and I will be vindicated.”
Powell was tapped to oversee Paramount Television in 2013, after spending two years leading the studio’s digital arm. She has been the only president of the TV studio since. She has delivered hits including Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” and TNT’s “The Alienist,” among others.
Powell’s firing comes nearly a month after Netflix PR chief Jonathan Friedland was dismissed after repeated uses of the n-word at company functions.