Film star and comedian Faizon Love asked a California court this week to order three top current and former Universal executives to provide depositions about their roles in directing the studio’s racist actions in marketing the 2009 film Couples Retreat.
The motion in Superior Court in Los Angeles seeks expedited discovery from Adam Fogelson, the former Chairman of Universal Studios, Ron Meyer, the now-retired chairman of NBCUniversal, and Michael Moses, President of Worldwide Marketing for Universal Pictures.
It is believed that all three studio executives were responsible for the removal of Love’s name and image, along with that of co-star Kali Hawk, from international marketing posters for the hit film. They were the only Black stars of the film, and Love’s contract with Universal guaranteed him to star billing on par with six of his co-stars, including in advertising and promotional materials for the film.
Love and Hawk appeared in those materials in the U.S., but were erased from international efforts. The studio also refused to invite Love to participate in the European press tour for the film’s initial foreign release.
“It’s vital that we are able to question these powerful industry executives under oath as soon as possible,” said Love’s lead attorney, Eric George, of Browne George Ross O’Brien Annaguey & Ellis LLP (“BGR”). “Their testimony will show exactly how Universal Studios was and is practicing overt racism that perpetuates the second-class treatment of Black talent in Hollywood – and how that racism begins at the very top.”
Love’s complaint alleges that all three executives played a role in either carrying out this racist treatment of Love, or making false promises to Love in the wake of his removal from the poster. Fogelson apologized for the racist poster and assured Love the racist poster would not be used going forward – yet in July 2020, Love discovered Universal continues to use the blatantly racist posters in direct violation of his contract, according to the lawsuit.