Turns in '2 Fast' bias suit
EmptyIndustry veteran Frank Davis on Wednesday settled his portion of the federal government's racial discrimination case against Universal Pictures, then took the stand and told a seven-member jury that he believed he was fired as first assistant director on "2 Fast 2 Furious" because he is black.
"I did what I was supposed to be doing," Davis testified in federal court in downtown Los Angeles. "Unfortunately, Universal has certain stereotypes of people who look like me, and I was fired.
"I was held to a different standard," he added.
Universal has vehemently denied Davis' charges, saying that the director was fired because he could not handle the high-budget film, which included numerous action sequences.
The second day of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's case against Universal included the conclusion of testimony from "2 Fast" director John Singleton as well as sidebar discussions, settlement-talk breaks and the removal of a sick juror by U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess.
The EEOC sued the studio in 2003 over Davis' firing, claiming that it was without cause.
Davis then joined the commission's lawsuit, seeking additional compensatory and punitive damages. Davis claims that he has not worked in the industry since being fired from the 2003 film.
Outside the courtroom, Davis' attorney John Sweeney said of the settlement, "We are satisfied."
Universal officials attending the trial, including general counsel Maren Christensen and senior vp litigation David Burg, declined comment on the settlement. The EEOC resumed its case after the judge informed the jury the dispute between Davis and Universal had been resolved.
"We're going forward with all our witnesses," EEOC attorney Gregory McClinton said in the courthouse.
Said EEOC regional attorney Anna Park said of Davis' settlement: "We are a separate party, and when we sue, we sue in the public interest. We need to be satisfied in any resolution that the public interest is served."
Singleton then resumed his testimony, with cross-examination by Universal lead attorney Steve Cochran of Katten Muchin Rosenman.
Singleton worked with Davis -- a 20-year film veteran -- on 2001's "Baby Boy" and on a Burger King commercial starring Shaquille O'Neal.
The well-known "Boyz N the Hood" director testified that he "wanted to bring my people from other productions" in for "2 Fast," including Davis.
Under questioning, Singleton testified that he was satisfied with Davis' performance as a producer but that he made an "executive decision" to let Davis go after several crew members complained about him.
"I think he was well liked by the staff, not the line producers," Singleton told the jury.
The director had said in a previous deposition that he thought race might have played a role in Davis' dismissal.
Davis, testifying after Singleton, said he never received any complaints personally about how he was running the production.
Singleton "told me I was doing a good job," Davis said.
The trial resumes today.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Leslie Simmons is a senior staff writer for The Hollywood Reporter, ESQ.