The chairman of the Diversity Task Force formed amid the controversy over racially tinged emails leaked during the Sony hacking crisis has stepped down, blaming the studio’s “firing” of Amy Pascal. Sony announced yesterday that Pascal was stepping down from her position as co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and chairman of the Motion Picture Group and that she was launching a Sony-backed production venture that would be based on the studio lot.
“Firing Amy Pascal was not part of our proposal,” said director-producer Jean Claude LaMarre in a statement from the Task Force. “I’m sure there were certain members that wanted her gone, but I’ve always appealed for moderation. I wanted us to engage Sony as partners, not as an adversary. That was always a source of contention within the group.”
The task force was largely selected by the Rev. Al Sharpton in response to the leaked e-mails between Pascal and producer Scott Rudin, that included racially insensitive remarks about what black movies President Barack Obama might like. Pascal and Rudin apologized for the emails. The Task Force was scheduled to meet with Pascal this coming Monday, but that meeting has been postponed to meet with her successor, according to the statement. “Perhaps in the future, I would work with Rev. Sharpton on Diversity issues affecting Black FilmMakers, but it will be outside of this immediate Task Force,” LaMarre said. “Right now, making my own films and hiring more black people in the business is my priority.”
Task force members also include Ron Taylor, the former head of diversity at Fox; Dawn Carter; Tanya Kersey, CEO and Founder of Hollywood Black Film Festival; Dr. Woodrow Clark, environmental scientist and producer; journalist Maleena Lawrence; Rev. K.W Tulloss of the National Action Network; Pastor William Smart Jr of Southern Christian Leadership Conference; publicist Edna Sims; and author/filmmaker Gary Hardwick.