Production workers nationwide are negotiating a variety of issues, including a good night’s sleep and a living wage, with AMPTP. As no compromise has been achieved, IATSE called for a strike authorization vote, and this set in motion potentially the biggest labor showdown in Hollywood since the last writers’ strike 14 years ago. The potential impact? The strike would shut down film and TV production in the entire country.
It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month and the new government report shows Latinos are continuously absent in major newsrooms, Hollywood films, and other media industries. Not much to celebrate…
Despite many diverse Emmy nominees, all major acting trophies went to white actors at the awards ceremony. #EmmysSoWhite -- we’ve heard this before (remember #OscarsSoWhite?)
In better news, The Flip the Script initiative will fund, market, and distribute six shorts from emerging directors mentored by an advisory board that includes Lulu Wang, Mj Rodriguez, Blake Griffin, Kendrick Sampson, and Elle Johnson.
These and other news stories of the week.
The International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees called for a strike authorization vote, setting in motion potentially the biggest labor showdown in Hollywood since the last writers’ strike 14 years ago -- Variety reported.
Some 60,000 IATSE members could end up walking off the job. A strike would lead to a nationwide shutdown of TV and film production, because three of the locals — 600, 700 and 800 — are “national” unions.
“It’s coast to coast,” said Joe Martinez, a special effects specialist in IATSE Local 44, who said he believed a strike is increasingly likely. “They think they got us by the balls. We make the product. If we don’t show up to work, what are they going to sell?”
Local 600, the largest of the locals, represents 9,600 camera operators and cinematographers in the U.S. If they walk out, no one would be able to hold a camera on a set in the U.S. Likewise, post-production nationwide would come to a grinding halt without the 8,600 editors represented by Local 700.
IATSE negotiators are seeking better accommodation for rest breaks and longer turnaround times between production hours. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — which represents the major studios, including Netflix and Amazon — has refused to make adjustments that would shorten the workday, which would significantly raise the studios’ costs.
The strike authorization vote is expected to begin on Oct. 1, with results announced on Oct. 4. If approved, IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb would have the power to call a strike if further negotiations fail to produce an agreement.
“It is incomprehensible that the AMPTP, an ensemble that includes media mega-corporations collectively worth trillions of dollars, claims it cannot provide behind-the-scenes crews basic human necessities like adequate sleep, meal breaks and living wages,” IATSE said in a statement. “Worse, management does not appear to even recognize our core issues as problems that exist in the first place.”
The Primetime Emmy Awards had historic and diverse nomination fields, but all major acting trophies went to white actors -- Variety reported. Are we surprised, though?
Actors that were seen as solid contenders included Billy Porter and Mj Rodriguez (Pose), the late Michael K. Williams (Lovecraft Country), and Kenan Thompson and Bowen Yang (Saturday Night Live) — but in the end, all ended up empty-handed.
Michaela Coel, nominated for four Emmys, won the writing limited category for I May Destroy You, the third time a Black creative has won the category and a first for a Black woman. Pundits were expecting a couple of actors of color to win, such as the actors from Hamilton and Regé-Jean Page from Bridgerton.
It was, however, a good night for female creatives. Jessica Hobbs became the fourth woman to win drama director in the organization’s 73-year history. Lucia Aniello, co-creator of Hacks received two significant awards at the expense of frontrunner Ted Lasso, winning comedy writing and comedy director. This is the first time in Emmy history that two women have won both comedy and drama director categories. However, The Emmys have failed to reward any Black women directors in any of their three genre distinctions.
Beyond the acting categories, host and producer RuPaul shattered a ceiling. With 11 total career wins, RuPaul broke the record for the most Emmy wins by a person of color, as RuPaul’s Drag Race was named outstanding competition program on Sunday night.
But how many more years do we have to wait until actors of color are equally recognized?
According to a new government report, Latinos are continuously absent in major newsrooms, Hollywood films, and other media industries, where their portrayal could deeply impact how fellow Americans view them -- The Associated Press reported.
This is a sad news release during Hispanic Heritage Month.
Last October, The Congressional Hispanic Caucus asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office to investigate the dearth of opportunities for Latinos.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, has made the inclusion of Latinos in media his main issue, urging Hollywood studio directors, journalism leaders, and book publishers to include their perspectives.
Castro says the lack of accurate representation, especially in Hollywood, means that Americans don’t get a full understanding of Latinos and their contributions. And portraying Latinos solely as drug dealers or criminals helps politicians to exploit negative stereotypes for political gain, he says.
It could also spark violence against Latinos, such as the killing of 23 people in El Paso in 2019 by a gunman who specifically targeted Hispanics.
“American media… has relied on stereotypes of Latinos”
“None of this has been an effort to tell people exactly what to write but to encourage that media institutions reflect the face of America. Because then we believe that the stories will be more accurate and more reflective of the truth and less stereotypical,” Castro said in an interview with The Associated Press. “American media, including print journalism, has relied on stereotypes of Latinos. If the goal is the truth, well that certainly has not served the truth.”
The report found that in 2019, the estimated percentage of Latinos working in newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers was approximately 8 percent. The report also found that the biggest growth among Hispanics in the media industry was in service jobs, while management jobs had the lowest representation.
Ana-Christina Ramón is part of a team that has been collecting data on diversity in Hollywood for a decade and began publishing annual reports in 2014. Ramón is the director of research and civic engagement at the UCLA College of Letters and Science.
Her research found that Latinos account for only about 5 percent to 6 percent of main cast members in TV and film, despite being roughly 18 percent of the U.S. population.
“It’s a bit of a ceiling. It doesn’t go over that percentage,” Ramón said, although she added that TV has made much bigger strides in significant roles for Latinos than movies have.
For years, Hollywood executives have argued that films with diverse leads don’t make money. Ramón found that they do.
“There’s this idea that Hollywood has that ‘Oh, we can’t do too much diversity, it will scare off the white people.’ Well, it has not scared off the white people,” Ramón said.
It seems like it’s time for Hollywood to recognize these disparities and put its money where its mouth is 🤑…
In better news, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Creator+, a new digital-first content studio and streaming platform, has partnered with The Kennedy/Marshall Company for Flip the Script, a program that will fund, market, and distribute six short films from up-and-coming BIPOC creators every year.
Frank Marshall and his head of production development Ashley Jay Sandberg will serve as advisors, while filmmaker Lulu Wang, Pose star Mj Rodriguez, NBA star Blake Griffin (who has a production banner, Mortal Media), Insecure actor and activist Kendrick Sampson, showrunner Elle Johnson (Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker), NAACP Hollywood Bureau senior vice president Kyle Bowers and social media executive Kudzi Chikumbu will serve as mentors on the advisory board.
Submissions will be accepted through Oct. 22 from U.S. residents who submit a short film script that relates to the theme “the power of community.” Creator+ will select six filmmakers, acquiring their scripts and giving them up to $25,000 to cover production and marketing costs for their shorts and help them with development, production, and festival strategy.
The Flip the Script advisory board is looking for purpose-driven projects that champion intersectionality and prioritize hiring a diverse crew. and will offer one of the six finalists the opportunity to develop a feature with Creator+.
“At Creator+, the best course of action we can take to shift culture and address bias against historically excluded communities is investing funds into projects that support and uplift these people to tell their own stories,” Creator+ head of diversity and impact development and production Ben O’Keefe said in a statement. “Our mission is to support the next generation of storytellers and industry leaders to create a more inclusive and equitable entertainment industry.”
Creator+ was founded earlier this year by former YouTube global head of creator partnerships Benjamin Grubbs and former Crackle general manager Jonathan Shambroom.
When COVID-19 hit the U.S., much attention was paid to the impact that it had on industries like hospitality, travel, and sports. But few industries shut down as completely or for as long as Broadway in New York City. CBS News reflected the hardships that Broadway employees endured during these unprecedented times in a new original documentary called Ghost Light: The Year Broadway Went Dark.
"Broadway makes more money for New York than all of the sports teams combined … yet we are invisible," said Fran Curry, who worked as a star dresser on Disney's Frozen until the pandemic forced the show to close its doors for good.
"We weren't kind of given the same weight as other components of New York City and I do not know why," Flying Over Sunset actress Michele Ragusa said.
While much of the nation reopened, the Broadway community has been suffering for more than a year.
"I've been in the industry long enough to understand that the economics are hard in the best of circumstances. It's an expensive — very expensive — art form. So there's just no way to make the numbers work without having full capacity available," Hurwitz says in the documentary Ghost Light: The Year Broadway Went Dark.
It was especially hard for artists who usually turn to the service industry for back-up work in between Broadway gigs. Service workers were laid off and no one was hiring waiters or personal trainers. Without jobs, many Broadway professionals couldn’t afford to stay in New York City.
"It has fractured us, I think, in a really big way that maybe not a lot of the country has realized because so many other people became work-from-home," said Kevin Matthew Reyes, who was working as an actor in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the time of shutdown. "For a lot of us, it was like we could only live here when we were working. We've been severely displaced and there are many artists and workers from the theater who have left this town and maybe are unsure about when they'll be able to return."
Many Broadway professionals either had to move home or couch-surf and live a nomadic lifestyle. Some wondered whether they’d have enough money for food or toilet paper the following week. Depression plagued many while others pivoted to new careers.
Don Darryl Rivera, who has played Iago in Broadway's Aladdin since it opened in 2014, made the difficult decision in May of 2020 to pivot completely and pursue his real estate license. After "seven years doing the same show every night, eight times a week," he's spent the last year working for the real estate team that sold his family their home in New Jersey.
"I've spent a third of my time just in tears," he told CBS News. "I literally don't know what to do. And maybe even on bad days in real estate, I'll look at my computer screen and be like, 'How did I get here? Why am I here? What am I doing?'"
Maria Briggs, who was a swing, or backup performer, for Mean Girls at the time of the shutdown, says it led her to experience depression for the first time in her life.
"It's so hard to have it taken away, which is such a huge part of your identity, and then have to figure out who you are," she told CBS News in the Spring of 2021. "I'm having a really hard time getting out of bed during the mornings. I'm having like really vivid dreams that I've never experienced before. I'm also losing motivation to do something that I've loved so much."
The light at the end of the tunnel finally came in May, with the announcement that Broadway shows could resume performances in September 2021 at full capacity. Broadway cornerstones like Wicked, Hamilton, and The Lion King set a reopening date of September 14, with vaccinations and masks required. Other shows followed.
Christina Capatides of CBS News writes, “Broadway's signature slogan is "The show must go on." After 9/11, it roared back to life after only two days. Superstorm Sandy forced it to close for four. Nothing has ever kept Broadway dark for as long as the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, in one sense, the Great White Way never truly went dark.”
"The ghost light," says Chuck Cooper, a Tony Award-winning veteran of the stage, referring to the single bulb traditionally left aglow in an otherwise darkened theater. "I love the ghost light. ... The practical purpose that the ghost light serves is to, if some workman is walking across the stage late at night, they won't fall off the edge of the stage because the ghost light is on and they'll be able to find their way. But it's also a wonderful metaphor for the theater because, with a ghost light, the light of understanding, the light of compassion, the light of witness, the light of so much that's good about human beings is never extinguished. The theater, that light, always shines.”
In Memoriam: Melvin Van Peebles, who helped champion a new wave of modern Black cinema in the 1970s, died on Sept. 22 -- CNN reported.
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Demi Vitkute writes the weekly entertainment industry news blog for Productions.com. She’s a journalist who has covered entertainment, fashion, and culture. Demi is a founder of The Urban Watch Magazine and has written for The Washington Post, Inside Hook, and Promo Magazine, among others. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and Emerson College.