New alleged details have surfaced, since it was announced that Stephen G. Hill and Zola Mashariki were leaving BET. Reportedly, Stephen’s departure was not by his own choice, but Viacom allegedly wanted him out.
Meanwhile, Zola allegedly is threatening to sue BET, claiming that she was not terminated and learned of the news about her leaving after an internal memo was sent to the network. A source states,
She was receiving calls and she had no idea what people were talking about because she never accepted any kind of deal nor was she told to leave.
Reportedly, Zola was diagnosed in December with breast cancer and was still under contract.
Here’s the memo that she reportedly sent BET staff, noting that she had been on medical leave since Feb. 6 — with a tentative return date of April 11 pending results of her forthcoming surgery.
I heard yesterday that Stephen was leaving BET. I’m concerned that there was a reference to me, as Stephen’s departure is a separate issue from my status at the company. Here are the facts: I am on medical leave. My job is protected by the Family Medical Leave Act and related statutes (FMLA) and I have a contract in place. Viacom/BET are aware that I am scheduled to return on April 11 and that my medical leave may need to be extended depending on the progress of my recovery,” she wrote. “Bob Bakish has said our company values should be honesty, empathy and bravery. I agree with this wholeheartedly and our team has embodied this over the 2 years we have worked together. Without question, including me in Stephen’s departure announcement is not in keeping with those values. I am continuing to focus on improving my health. I have faith in the Viacom/BET leadership and know they will fix this. I have a long history in Hollywood and am grateful for the outpouring of support I have received across the entire industry during this difficult time. Our Original Programming team has accomplished a lot in a short time and the filmmakers and community are excited to work with us again. There is so much more to do.
So why was Stephen fired? Sources claim,
Viacom was notified that he may have attempted to access Zola’s medical files and questioned the validity of her breast cancer diagnosis — and purportedly addressed the matter in a staff meeting. The matter escalated to Bakish, who made the decision to dismiss Hill from his post as president of programming.
Other sources claim that Debra
wanted it to be perceived that the transition was a part of Viacom’s restructure, so she included Mashariki in the exit story in an effort to protect Stephen, who was ousted. [Viacom] wanted him out.
A network insider, however, claims Zola was fired before taking medical leave.
She was terminated as a result of her own performance prior to taking medical leave. They then allowed her to keep her contract, so she was able to keep her salary and benefits after being diagnosed. She is definitely terminated.
Another source claims that Debra accidentally announced that Zola was leaving the network.
Debra’s really embarrassed and was like it would make her look bad if they put out a retraction. They even told Zola’s lawyer, ‘What if we offered her a dream exit package to save face because it’s going to be hard to get Debra to put out a new statement. Can we find a middle ground?’
Meanwhile, Debra allegedly had plans to leave BET earlier this year,
her days are numbered. She was planning to step down as CEO if Hillary Clinton got elected. There was talk of her having a role in Hillary’s camp.
No additional details about the situation have been released.