Randall Emmett sued for race discrimination, hostile workplace by former assistant

A man in a dark jacket and open-necked shirt with a scruffy beard.
Randall Emmett, director of “Midnight in the Switchgrass,” poses at the Los Angeles premiere of the film at Regal L.A. Live on July 19, 2021.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision/AP)

One of Randall Emmett’s former assistants has sued the once-prominent filmmaker, accusing him of racial discrimination and creating a hostile workplace that included the use of the N-word.

Martin G’Blae, 29, worked at the production company Emmett/Furla Oasis for much of 2020 and served as a production assistant on Emmett’s action movie “Midnight in the Switchgrass.”

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, G’Blae, who is Black, alleges that race discrimination was a factor in his termination.

The complaint — against Emmett, business partner George Furla and their L.A.-based film production company — asserts that Emmett made racist comments about Black performers, including rappers 50 Cent, Cardi B and Quavo. The Atlanta rapper Quavo of Migos co-stars in “Savage Salvation,” an Emmett-directed movie starring Robert De Niro, which is scheduled for release next month.


“Randall Emmett has never used a racially derogatory term in his life and Mr. G’Blae knows it,” Suann MacIsaac, Emmett’s attorney at the Kinsella Weitzman law firm said Tuesday night in a statement. “Mr. Emmett looks forward to vigorously defending this action.”

G’Blae’s lawsuit contains 24 claims of alleged legal violations, including that Emmett asked G’Blae to retrieve a “brick of cocaine” from a hotel room in Puerto Rico during a work trip in early 2020. The former assistant also said Emmett enlisted him in an “insurance fraud scam,” asking him to file an insurance claim for his missing Rolls Royce, which G’Blae maintains wasn’t actually stolen.

“By bringing to light the illegal pay scheme, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation that I suffered during my employment with Randall Emmett and his companies, I’m glad to open the floor for these discussions to take place,” G’Blae said in a statement. “I hope, through this, a message is made that there are just some things you cannot remain silent about — illegal practices, abuse, and your rights within the workplace are just a few of many.”

Several of G’Blae’s complaints were described in a Los Angeles Times investigation last summer into Emmett’s crumbling empire. The Times detailed allegations of mistreatment of women, assistants and investors who poured millions of dollars into Emmett’s film projects. Several financiers are now suing Emmett and Furla for civil fraud, which both men deny.

In June, Emmett’s spokesperson Sallie Hoffmeister declined to comment on claims of his alleged past drug use but emphasized that the producer has been sober since October 2021. She added in a statement at the time that G’Blae “has only recently criticized Randall, despite previously speaking about him in glowing terms — even after leaving EFO.”

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The filing comes amid a rising tide of discontent among Hollywood assistants, who have spoken out about low wages and harsh treatment by Hollywood executives.

Emmett has been a fixture in Hollywood for two decades, producing more than 120 movies, including low-budget action films starring Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Mel Gibson. Emmett also has co-produced critically acclaimed movies, including Peter Berg’s “Lone Survivor” and two Martin Scorsese films, “Silence” and the Oscar-nominated “The Irishman” for Netflix.

The lawsuit said Emmett became upset in August 2020 after reading a book by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who has a dim view of Emmett. The two men were once business partners and co-produced the Starz series “Power,” but they had a public falling-out in 2019. In early 2020, Jackson released the book, “Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter.”

“Emmett got mad at 50 Cent and G’Blae. He called 50 Cent, ‘this f-----g n----r,’ and then said to G’Blae, ‘All you guys are alike. All you guys do is hustle people.’ He then threw the book at G’Blae,” the lawsuit states.

G’Blae contends he was targeted in other ways.

“Emmett often dropped money around G’Blae, and left expensive watches and jewelry around him, as if to see if he would steal them,” according to the lawsuit. “Other employees noted to G’Blae the oddity of it, as they noticed Emmett would only do this around G’Blae.”

Emmett also asked G’Blae, then the only African American employee at Emmett/Furla Oasis, to “turn out his pockets to check if he had stolen anything,” the lawsuit said. “ Emmett did this to play into the stereotype that African Americans are thieves.”

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In another incident, while watching the Black Latina rapper Cardi B on TV, Emmett allegedly “called her a ‘ratchet b—’ and expressed that he had trouble understanding what she was saying. So, he asked G’Blae to ‘translate’ for him,” the lawsuit said.

The complaint added that Emmett said he had trouble understanding Quavo and once asked G’Blae: “Martin, if I go out with Quavo, would anyone know who he is? Or is it just like a culture thing?”

A man sits outdoors, his hand to his chin.
Martin G’Blae in June 2022.
(Allie Leepson + Jen McClary / For The Times)

G’Blae, who was paid $1,500 every two weeks, said he was on call 12 hours a day and on weekends, resulting in pay that amounted to less than California’s minimum wage. And he said he often was asked to cover Emmett’s personal expenses, including meals and stays.

“To date, G’Blae has only been partially reimbursed for these expenses,” according to the complaint.

In her statement, MacIsaac accused G’Blae of “attempting to extort thousands of dollars from Mr. Emmett for months. Although he claims he is owed for past expenses, Mr. G’Blae’s story perpetually changes and he has refused to back up any of the supposed unpaid expenses,” she said.

In the lawsuit, , G’Blae said he was subjected to religious discrimination because he is a Muslim, and faced discrimination based on a disability, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

In June 2020, Emmett called G’Blae into his office — in front of at least two other people — and asked: “‘What was that sickness you had that makes you retarded?’ Although uncomfortable with the question, G’Blae reminded him that he had ADHD,” according to the lawsuit.

Employment attorneys Young K. Park and Tara Hattendorf of the law firm Marlis Park are representing G’Blae. The suit does not specify damages sought but does ask for a jury trial.

Last year, in an effort to get his expenses repaid, G’Blae sent text messages to EFO’s accountant and Emmett.

The producer then left several voice memos, including one offering G’Blae $50,000 to help produce a movie, saying he “was in a sad place right now.”

Voice notes from Randall Emmett to former assistant Martin G’Blae

June 29, 2022

The voice memos, reviewed by The Times, were left just days after Emmett’s former fiancé, Lala Kent, a star of “VanderPump Rules,” broke off their relationship amid allegations that Emmett was cheating. Kent, who shares custody of a young daughter with Emmett, has been outspoken about their relationship.

Last month, Emmett’s former wife, Ambyr Childers, sought a restraining order against the producer after she received emails in which Emmett’s attorney allegedly spoke about her in a threatening manner. A judge denied Childers’ request. She and Emmett have two daughters together.

Staff writer Amy Kaufman contributed to this report.