BET, Debra Lee, Entertainment, Stephen Hill, Viacom, Zola Mashariki -

BET exec says she’s not leaving, despite Debra Lee memo

BET, Debra Lee, Entertainment, Stephen Hill, Viacom, Zola Mashariki -

BET exec says she’s not leaving, despite Debra Lee memo

On Wednesday, BET CEO Debra Lee sent out a memo that said executives Stephen Hill and Zola Mashariki would be leaving the network, but apparently, Mashariki disagrees.

“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 source told PageSix of the BET drama.

But a network insider insists that Mashariki was, in fact, terminated: “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.”

Mashariki, who was EVP head of original programming, sent out this memo to staff assuring them that she would be returning:

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.

PageSix also reported that Lee is embarrassed over the memo but does not want to issue a retraction, citing a source as saying: “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?’”

What’s more, sources claim Lee had planned on exiting BET had Hillary Clinton been elected president, as she was allegedly poised to take a new role in her administration. Obviously, the election did not turn out in her favor.


The post BET exec says she’s not leaving, despite Debra Lee memo appeared first on theGrio.

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