Filmmaker Steps Down From Rev. Sharpton’s Hollywood Diversity Task Force Citing Pascal Dismissal

February 11, 2015  |  

Director and producer Jean Claude LaMarre has resigned from the Diversity Task Force spearheaded by Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network, citing differences in opinion over the fate of Sony co-chair Amy Pascal.

The Diversity Task Force launched last month in the wake of the email leak at Sony Pictures. In a number of emails, racially insensitive comments were made. Pascal vowed to take steps to both make amends and improve diversity at that company and in Hollywood at large. The Diversity Task Force pledged to do the same.

Among the members of the nine-person Task Force are actress Vivica A. Fox, CEO and founder of Hollywood Black Film Festival, Tanya Kersey; Nobel Laureate, Dr. Woodrow Clark; and Rev. K.W Tulloss of the National Action Network.

At the time of the launch of the group, LaMarre said in a statement: “As a 15-year veteran of this business, first as an actor then as a director, this is not only an important step in the right direction for Sony, it’s a necessary step.”

But now LaMarre has stepped down before the group could have its first meeting. In a new statement, LaMarre said:

“Firing Amy Pascal was not part of our proposal. 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. I thank Rev. Sharpton, as well as the other members for asking me to serve, but at this time I’d like to focus on several film projects and my production company.”

Pascal and Sony have since announced that she will be leaving her position when her contract is up in May. She already has a four-year contract waiting in which she’ll work on projects including the upcoming all-female Ghostbusters and any new Spider-Man projects.

The task force was meant to have a meeting with Pascal on Monday. That meeting had been canceled for obvious reasons and has not yet been rescheduled.

The implication here that the Task Force may have had anything to do with Pascal being fired has not been confirmed by leaders in the Task Force nor with anyone at Sony. MadameNoire was in touch with Sony Pictures, but got no response.

We did, however, receive this statement from Rev. K.W. Tulloss, the National Action Network’s Western Regional Director who was convening the task force on behalf of Rev. Sharpton:

Jean Claude Lamarre was one of the many individuals who reached out to NAN in the aftermath of the Sony emails. His statement representing a task force that has not met yet was a misleading representation of the group’s goals.

The task force that NAN formed is set to meet to work on an agenda and a plan of action around diversity in Hollywood. We do know that some of our main goals addressing diversity in this industry include representation and hiring practices. Further specific points or calls to action have not been made by the task force. Our group is constructed of individuals committed to bringing real change to the industry and this is not something that can be done overnight. The task force’s first meeting is being rescheduled and the group will be meeting very soon.” 

A source close to LaMarre who corresponded with MadameNoire via email says that there were other disagreements between him and the group that also led to his stepping away.

Even without Mr. LaMarre, the task force is moving forward.

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