Former Paramount TV president Amy Powell has denied making the insensitive and inappropriate comments that led to her firing on Thursday.
“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 TheWrap.
Her statement came just hours after her dismissal from the company, which was announced in an internal memo from Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos on Thursday afternoon.
“Last week, multiple individuals came to us to raise concerns around comments made by Amy Powell in a professional setting, which they believed were inconsistent with our company’s values,” Gianopulos wrote.
Gianopulos did not specify the nature of the comments, though an individual familiar with the situation told TheWrap that they were racially charged.
Powell, a 14-year veteran of the studio, has led the TV division since 2013, when she was appointed by then-CEO Brad Grey. She has overseen the studio as it launched shows like “13 Reasons Why” and “A Series of Unfortunate Events” on Netflix, “The Alienist” on TNT, “Condor” on Audience and the upcoming “Jack Ryan” series on Amazon and George Clooney’s “Catch-22” for Hulu.
Paramount COO Andrew Gumpert will provide operational support for the TV division as the search gets underway for Powell’s replacement. Paramount Animation’s Mireille Soria, Paramount Players’ Brian Robbins and Paramount Motion Picture Group’s Wyck Godfrey will provide creative input.
“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.
Read the full memo below.
Last week, multiple individuals came to us to raise concerns around comments made by Amy Powell in a professional setting, which they believed were inconsistent with our company’s values. 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.
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.
We will begin immediately looking for Amy’s replacement. In the interim, Andrew Gumpert, Paramount’s Chief Operating Officer, will provide operational support and Mireille Soria, Brian Robbins and Wyck Godfrey — Presidents of Paramount Animation, Paramount Players and Paramount Motion Picture Group, respectively — will provide creative input, where needed, to the incredibly talented Paramount TV team, which is very well-placed to continue the incredible growth of this division.
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.
We will continue this conversation in smaller groups and on a companywide scale in the coming months and, in the meantime, I want us to take stock of where we are and explore what more we can do to foster a safe, supportive and inclusive workplace. Through direct engagement and an open dialogue, my hope is that we can undertake this progress together, in an environment where each and every one of our employees feels heard and valued.
Thank you for your continued hard work and ongoing contributions to this effort.