Amy Powell, former president of Paramount Television, is getting ready to fight back against the company that fired her for using “racially charged language.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Powell has hired legal representation, and claims gender bias caused her firing on Paramount’s side under the company’s CEO Jim Gianopulos.
Powell’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, told The Hollywood Reporter that her tenure at Paramount should raise questions.
“Paramount’s ready-fire-aim strategy has nothing to do with promoting diversity, fostering conversations in and out of the creative process, or Amy Powell’s actual conduct, which has always been impeccable,” said Freedman. “In Amy’s 14 years at Paramount, the last five building Paramount Television from scratch, there has never been a question about her sensitivity, inclusivity or treatment of others. The fact that they pushed her out the door after a spurious two-day ‘investigation’ raises serious questions about their real motives.”
Freedman said he and litigator Shawn Holley are looking into potential defamation and wrongful termination claims against the studio and will argue that Powell’s firing was pretextual since former Paramount head of marketing and distribution Megan Colligan–another client of Freedman’s–was also fired and claimed gender bias. Colligan, who never sued, settled her claim against Paramount.
A Paramount spokesperson has said in a statement, “It’s unfortunate that Mr. Freedman has opted to employ a baseless gender bias argument during a time when real, bona fide claims of that nature are being addressed throughout our industry. While we never take the decision to terminate employment lightly, we are confident in our decision with respect to Ms. Powell.”
Powell’s firing came after Gianopulos cited “concerns about comments” Powell made in a conference call regarding the reboot of First Wives Club, which would feature a predominantly black cast and would be written by Girls Trip co-writer Tracy Oliver. Powell’s comments are reportedly related to a tweet from Oliver in which she discussed a negative stereotype about black women. Oliver wasn’t on the conference call, but a black assistant at Paramount and another Paramount executive reported Powell’s comments to higher-ups.
Powell’s comments are said to have included references to black women being “angry” over black men who date white women and how black men have “mommy issues” because they’re raised by “single mothers.” Powell has denied making these remarks; however, witnesses have said otherwise, leading to the company’s decision to fire Powell after her denial.
At the time of her firing, Powell released a statement through her PR which read: “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.”