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Roma Downey, Ted McGinley to Star in LightWorkers Media Drama ‘The Baxters’

Roma Downey, Ted McGinley to Star in LightWorkers Media Drama ‘The Baxters’
Roma Downey and sitcom vet Ted McGinley are set to star in “The Baxters,” the scripted family drama for Downey’s LightWorkers Media platform based on the book series by Karen Kingsbury.

Production on six half-hour episodes of the streaming series begins this week in Los Angeles. LightWorkers is a joint venture of MGM TV, Downey and Mark Burnett, Downey’s husband who also heads MGM TV and Digital. Downey is shepherding the project with Will Packer and his Will Packer Media banner. It’s targeted for premiere late this year.

The Baxters” revolves around the lives of the adult children
See full article at Variety - TV News »

How to Fix Hollywood's Toxic Gender Exclusion Problem (Guest Column)

How to Fix Hollywood's Toxic Gender Exclusion Problem (Guest Column)
Rachel Feldman, a director, screenwriter and activist, is the former chair of the DGA Women’s Steering Committee and has taught directing at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Hollywood’s female filmmakers are hoping that the current spate of scandal exposures will challenge other entrenched sexist toxicities. Employment exclusion based on gender discrimination is certainly not sexual abuse, but it is cruel, torturous and an oppression that asserts power over women and strips them of their dignity. It’s also illegal. Sexual harassment and gender discrimination are difficult to pin down and when called out — often denied. We can...
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

Guest Post: Plenty of Qualified Women Directors Are Ready to Fill the Ranks

Rachel Feldman

Guest Post by Rachel Feldman

If asked to imagine a film or TV director, most people conjure the image of a man. Sadly, this is true for those who work in the film and television industry as well. In fact, research from USC Annenberg’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative confirms that zero percent of Hollywood executives have any women director’s names at the top of their minds. Of course, those in the know have lists that include Kathryn Bigelow, Patty Jenkins, or Ava DuVernay in features and Lesli Linka Glatter or Reed Morano in television — but there are also hundreds, if not thousands, of highly skilled women directors who have been invisible for way too long.

The statistics for women directing stagnates at four percent in feature films and at 17 percent in television, and although the 17 percent in TV may initially sound like forward momentum, when statistically analyzed it proves to be an illusory number because it doesn’t represent the number of women directing, only the number of episodes directed by women. In other words, it is often the same few women doing all the work. But the fact is that there are over 1,300 experienced women directors in the Directors Guild of America (DGA), many with decades of experience in high-quality broadcast and cable television. So why do only about 50 of these directors appear and re-appear on network hiring lists?

Last week NBC announced a new “Female Forward” program that will train 10 new women directors a year through a shadowing program. NBC President Jennifer Salke says that the pool of available directors is “too small” and she’s excited about the idea of having 30 new directors in three years. Of course it’s fantastic that NBC is going to create a program in support of women directors, but it would be a mistake not to correct an insidious false assumption that continues to undermine real progress.

Salke is by no means alone in her thinking: it is a predominate belief throughout the entire industry that one of the reasons why gender employment statistics are so low is because there just aren’t enough qualified women directors to fill the ranks. But this is patently untrue.

The fact is that NBC could have 100 highly skilled directors tomorrow. If our industry truly wants swift, equitable gender equity in the director ranks, the answer is not simply to train new directors and hope for the future. We need to find and hire the large pool of already trained, highly accomplished women directors who have been toiling in the trenches for decades. We need to make the change now.

The employment mechanism for hiring directors is, no doubt, complex. There are many levels of executives, all who need to vet a director. That’s why directors with hot credits and repped by top agents are easy to notice — and those who may not have a recent credit, or who are not represented by a high-profile agent or manager, become invisible.

Women’s careers also look different from their male counterparts’. Women often step away from thriving careers to raise children and care for family members. Add in the gender bias that makes each and every job a Sisyphean hurdle and it’s simple to see how women lose their reps and fall off rosters. But these women are indomitable. Many have thriving careers in allied fields as writers, producers, editors, ADs, or teachers. Some make independent features. All of them are eager to be making an honorable living, with goldstar health insurance, using the masterful skills they have taken a lifetime to hone.

In life, and certainly in the movie business, we are taught that we will be rewarded for tenacity and determination, but so far this has not proven true for an army of women directors.

Meryl Streep sponsors a program for mid-career women writers through New York Women in Film & Television, the Writers Guild of America has made enormous strides supporting the careers of their experienced female members with a variety of initiatives and programs, and The Ravenal Foundation and The Jerome Foundation have long supported mid-career female feature directors. But in the television director landscape the continued focus on new, untrained directors as the sole way to ameliorate a widespread problem is both an unimaginative solution and an enormous injustice to women who have already been injured by decades of gender exclusion.

DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey, and Ryan Murphy are trendsetting new formulas in hiring television directors. They understand that the status quo is not serving directors who are not white men and they are hiring both veteran directors who’ve fallen off hiring lists as well as promising talent. But a handful of progressive thinkers is not enough. The entire industry — networks, studios, producers, and agencies — must create avenues of opportunity for mid-career women directors. It may require a bit of work to discover this gold mine of talent but just below the surface are literally hundreds of brilliant women directors who deserve a break.

This past presidential election was a disgraceful example of how accomplished, highly experienced women can be disregarded. Hiding behind excuses of: “It’s our [pick one] first/second/third season,” or “We have [pick one] stunts/VFX/finicky actors/cross-boarding/a tricky tone…” is as misogynistic/patriarchal as men who think they can grab women wherever they want. We must continue to ask why men are regarded with great potential and women are seen as needing to have a continuing education. Mid-career women directors are trained to figure out what they need to tell a story and it’s high time for the film and TV machine to support and nurture this valuable resource.

Create your own programs and initiatives or search for us at The Director List and the DGA.

And here is a just-a-tip-of-the-iceberg list of experienced television directors — not intended to be exhaustive or comprehensive — to illustrate the bounty to be discovered. There are also hundreds more accomplished women in the independent world:

Victoria Hochberg, Gloria Muzio, Neema Barnette, Debbie Reinisch, Hanelle Culpepper, Martha Coolidge, Amy Heckerling, Tanya Hamilton, Tessa Blake, Kat Candler, Shannon McCormack Flynn, Ellen Pressman, Leslie Libman, Vicky Jenson, Stacy Title, Linda Feferman, Matia Karrell, Maggie Greenwald, Deborah Kampmeier, Debra Granik, Darnell Martin, Anna Foerster, Heather Cappiello, Nicole Rubio, Leslie Libman, Beth Spitalny, Daisy Von Scherler Mayer, Jan Eliasberg, Elodie Keene, Diana Valentine, Jessica Landaw, Julie Hebert, Julie Anne Robinson, Katherine Brooks, Martha Mitchell, Nicole Kassell, Nzingha Stewart, Rachel Talalay, Rose Troche, Stacey Black, Alexis Korycinski, Allison Anders, Ami Canaan Mann, Amy Redford, Anna Mastro, Anne Renton, Catherine Jelski, Claudia Weill, Dee Rees, Helen Hunt, Jessica Yu, Donna Deitch, Kasi Lemmons, Lily Mariye, So Yong Kim, Tina Mabry, Tanya Hamilton, Rachel Feldman

Rachel Feldman has directed more than 60 hours of television and is in development to direct her award-winning screenplay “Fair Fight,” a political thriller based on the life of Fair Pay activist Lilly Ledbetter. She is a former chair of the DGA Women’s Steering Committee. Go to her website for more information. #WomenCallAction

Guest Post: Plenty of Qualified Women Directors Are Ready to Fill the Ranks was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

WGA West Unveils TV Writer Access Project Honorees

On Wednesday, the Writers Guild of America West announced 11 honorees for its 2017 Writer Access Project, which recognizes a diverse group of comedy and drama television writers.

The honorees, which include four minority writers, four women writers, and two Lgbt writers, are listed below.

Drama:

Adrian A. Cruz

Rachel Feldman

Sharon Hoffman

Peter Hume

Donald Joh

Tonya Kong

Zak Shaikh

Mollie St. John

– Ben St. John

Comedy:

Hilary Weisman Graham

Eddie Quintana

The honorees will participate in a series of WGA West-hosted workshops designed to prepare them for careers in television writing. The project, run by the WGA West’s diversity department, identifies talented writers, and makes samples of their work available to showrunners, producers, network and studio executives, agents and managers.

Qualified guild members were invited to submit an unproduced half-hour or one-hour spec script within five industry-underrepresented categories: minority writers, writers with disabilities, women writers, Lgbt writers, and older writers (55 and up). Entries were read and
See full article at Variety - TV News »

11 Honorees Selected For WGA TV Writer Access Program

Eleven female and minority writers have been named this year's honorees of the WGA West's TV Writer Access Program. Now in its eighth year, the goal of the program is to "promote diversity and foster inclusiveness in the entertainment industry." Honorees in the one-hour drama category are: Rachel Feldman – Kinks Adrian A. Cruz – Irwindale Sharon Hoffman – The Doubling Peter Hume – Righteous Texas Donald Joh – Mulberry Tonya KongSkin Deep Zak Shaikh – Runaways Mollie…
See full article at Deadline TV »

Female Filmmakers Express Concern Over Donald Trump’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Picks

Female Filmmakers Express Concern Over Donald Trump’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Picks
A new report over on Deadline casts a troubling light on yet another corner of the Donald Trump administration.

Back in the fall of 2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began interviewing a wide variety of female film and television directors about their experience in the industry in service to an investigation into Hollywood and its potentially discriminatory hiring practices. It was a heralded move — one encouraged by the Aclu and other organizations — and one widely recognized as a major step forward in cracking open the machinations of the industry’s so-called boys’ club.

Read More: One-Third of the Films At Sundance Were Directed By Women, But That Shouldn’t Be Confused With the Real World

But now, female filmmakers and their supporters are worried that Trump’s new picks for the Eeoc might derail the ongoing investigation.

As Deadline notes, Trump has already picked Republican Victoria Lipnic to
See full article at Indiewire »

Female Directors Worry Donald Trump’s Eeoc Picks Could Stall Hollywood Probe

Exclusive: The ongoing reshuffling of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could have dire consequences for female film and TV directors who've been hoping that the Eeoc's ongoing investigation would address Hollywood's discriminatory hiring practices. "We're all talking about it," said director Rachel Feldman, one of the more than 100 women directors who have been interviewed by Eeoc investigators over the past year. "We're all very concerned that Trump's new…
See full article at Deadline TV »

Female Directors Worry Donald Trump’s Eeoc Picks Could Stall Hollywood Probe

Female Directors Worry Donald Trump’s Eeoc Picks Could Stall Hollywood Probe
Exclusive: The ongoing reshuffling of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could have dire consequences for female film and TV directors who've been hoping that the Eeoc's ongoing investigation would address Hollywood's discriminatory hiring practices. "We're all talking about it," said director Rachel Feldman, one of the more than 100 women directors who have been interviewed by Eeoc investigators over the past year. "We're all very concerned that Trump's new…
See full article at Deadline Movie News »

Director Rachel Feldman Looking For ‘Fair Fight’ To Tell Lilly Ledbetter Story

Director Rachel Feldman Looking For ‘Fair Fight’ To Tell Lilly Ledbetter Story
Rachel Feldman, former chair of the DGA Women's Steering Committee, knows firsthand the uphill battle women directors face. "I've heard all the excuses men and women make for not hiring women directors," she told Deadline. She was one of the leaders of the movement to get the Aclu and the Eeoc to investigate Hollywood's discriminatory hiring practices, and now she's in the biggest fight of her career: to direct a film based on the life of Lilly Ledbetter, the modern-day…
See full article at Deadline Movie News »

Lilly Ledbetter Biopic Wins New York Women in Film & Television Grant

Lilly Ledbetter Biopic Wins New York Women in Film & Television Grant
New York Women in Film and Television, which supports female directors in film, TV, and digital media, has awarded its $7,500 Alan M. & Mildred S. Ravenal Foundation Grant to Rachel Feldman for "Ledbetter," which she will direct from a script co-written with Adam Prince. The film is based on the true story of Lilly Ledbetter, namesake of The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. Read More: "Rachel Feldman to Direct Lilly Ledbetter Biopic" The grant aims to support the production of a dramatic feature film from a female second-time feature film director over 40 years of age. The funds may be used for pre-production, production, or post-production. Feldman, a director and screenwriter with credits in both film and television ("The Commish," "Beyond the Break"), also won this year's Writers Guild of America Drama Queen Award for Best Spec Pilot. In addition, Feldman has chaired the Directors Guild of America Women’s...
See full article at Thompson on Hollywood »

News in Brief: Revolution Studios, Nywift

  • ScreenDaily
Revolution Studios has purchased the Cold Spring Pictures motion picture library. Separately, New York Women in Film & Television has announced the recipient of the Nywift Ravenal Foundation Grant.

Revolution Studios’ library acquisition includes all eight films produced by the studio from 2007 to 2012. Titles include Up In The Air (pictured), Disturbia and No Strings Attached. Cold Spring Pictures LLC was created in 2006 as a production facility to co-finance motion pictures produced by Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock’s The Montecito Picture Company.

New York Women in Film & Television (Nywift) has presented a $7,500 grant funded by the Alan M & Mildred S Ravenal Foundation to Rachel Feldman for Ledbetter. The Nywift Ravenal Foundation Grant supports the production of a dramatic feature film from a female second-time feature film director over 40.
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Lilly Ledbetter, Equal Pay Champion, Agrees to Biopic by Rachel Feldman

  • The Wrap
Lilly Ledbetter, Equal Pay Champion, Agrees to Biopic by Rachel Feldman
Lilly Ledbetter, the inspiration for President Obama's fair-pay act of 2009, has signed with producer/director Rachel Feldman to film a biopic about her crusade for equal pay for women. Ledbetter endured more than two decades of sexual harassment and cronyism as she worked her way out of poverty in an Alabama Goodyear factory, only to discover she was paid 40 percent less than her male counterparts. She sued Goodyear for compensation and won $3.8 million in damages but the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that decision on a technicality. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
See full article at The Wrap »

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