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Viacom fires Paramount TV president

Viacom has fired the president of US studio Paramount Television after allegations she made racially insensitive remarks.

Amy Powell

Amy Powell had been with Paramount for five years and was behind an array of shows including The Alienist for TNT and Netflix’s hit drama 13 Reasons Why.

In an internal memo, Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos said “multiple individuals” had raised concerns “around comments made by Amy Powell in a professional setting.”

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the comments involved generalisations about black women and came during discussions about studio notes on the reboot of First Wives Club, a show that features a predominantly black cast.

The show is being written by Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip), who in June had complained on Twitter about the show’s casting.

Powell denied the allegations, prompting Viacom’s human resources and legal teams “to terminate Amy’s employment, effective immediately,” Gianopulos said.

The CEO added that the company had “spent the past several days conducting a thorough investigation into this matter and speaking to those who were present” before making the decision.

Following Gianopulos’ memo, Powell again denied the allegations. 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.”

A replacement is now being sought, with Paramount chief operating officer Andrew Gumpert stepping for the interim. Paramount animation chief Mireille Soria, Paramount Players’ boss Brian Robbins and Paramount Motion Picture Group’s Wyck Godfrey will also assist.

Paramount’s slate includes the forthcoming adaptation of classic novel Catch-22 for Hulu, which has George Clooney attached to exec produce, although he is now not expected to star as had been reported.

Gianopulos added: “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.”

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