The group has met three times to develop a set of recommendations it plans to present to Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal later this month, the report notes. Pascal came under fire for racially insensitive email exchanges that emerged after a cyberattack on the company late last year.
“The task force was created with the express goal of combatting the lack of black meaningful content in the (entertainment) industry,” said task force member Jean Claude LaMarre, a producer and director whose film “Chocolate City” is set to debut later this year. “Sony just happens to be the focus.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton recently formed the group after a meeting and phone calls with Pascal, the report notes. Besides LaMarre, members include: Ron Taylor, a former head of diversity at Fox; actress Vivica A. Fox; Hollywood Black Film Festival CEO Tanya Kersey; Pastor William Smart Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; environmental scientist and producer Woodrow Clark; the Rev. K.W. Tulloss of Sharpton’s Harlem-based National Action Network and writer/filmmaker Gary Hardwick, according to Deadline:
LaMarre said the group plans to continue meeting well beyond an initial meeting with Pascal. Sony is not providing any funding or other resources for the task force, and it eventually will look at other Hollywood studios, networks, talent agencies, guilds and other major organizations, which also largely have a dearth of African-American executives.
Pascal and producer Scott Rudin have apologized for an e-mail exchange that included racially insensitive jokes about what Black movies and actors President Barack Obama might like, guessing that the list would include actor/comedian Kevin Hart. Both have apologized, but clearly civil rights leaders said their apologies do not go far enough:
“Kevin Hart comedies (produced by Sony label Screen Gems) are great, but if even the chairman of the company is laughing at them, there’s an issue,” LaMarre said. “There isn’t a single senior VP or president of a major studio who is of African-American descent.”
LaMarre says task force goals include getting Hollywood to nurture and develop African American talent both in front of and behind the screen, and to create more substantive programming with African American themes, the site reports. No comment yet from Sony.