CBS TV Studios and the Television Academy Foundation are coming together to help a group of students live long and prosper.
The two have announced a partnership to launch the “Star Trek” Command Training Program, an internship open to graduate and undergraduate college students nationwide, in 2020.
Initially, the new program will place two interns per semester on a “Star Trek” series, providing them a “360-degree immersion” in the production process of the “Star Trek” universe. Selected interns will also be allowed to actively engage in writers’ rooms, wardrobe design, on-set production, animation and post-production on Los Angeles-based programs.
“When Gene Roddenberry created the original ‘Star Trek’ series over 50 years ago, it challenged stereotypes and championed diversity and inclusion in an unprecedented way,” said Alex Kurtzman, the executive producer who currently oversees the “Star Trek” universe. “The Command Training Program is our commitment to expanding that inspirational vision across the entire ‘Star Trek’ canon. The ‘Star Trek’ universe is an ideal place to celebrate new voices and perspectives. We want to provide the framework to begin entertainment careers in a meaningful way and can’t wait to get started.”
Applications for the program, which is designed to “reflect the franchise’s core values of inclusion and diversity,” will be open from Nov. 14 through Jan. 21, 2020, with final selections being announced at the end of March.
Continue on to Variety to read the complete article.
The Russian film crew that traveled to the International Space Station to film scenes for the first movie shot partially in space returned to Earth safely on Sunday. The milestone will potentially give Russian film industry a small win over Hollywood, which also aims to shoot a movie on the ISS featuring Tom Cruise in the future.
On Saturday, actress Yulia Peresild, director Klim Shipenko, and Oleg Novitsky—a real-life cosmonaut who’s been on the ISS since April and also played a part in the movie—headed back to Earth on a Russian Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft. They landed with no incidents in the Kazakhstan desert at 10:35 a.m. local time after a roughly three-hour trip.
In total, Peresild and Shipenko spent 12 days in space filming scenes for their movie The Challenge, in which Peresild portrays an operating surgeon who prepares for a flight to the ISS to save an ailing cosmonaut’s (reportedly played by Novitsky) life.
“The descent vehicle of the crewed spacecraft Soyuz MS-18 is standing upright and is secure. The crew are feeling good!” the Russian space agency Roscosmos, which is part of the joint film project, said on Twitter, according to a translation by AFP.
In fact, the crew sort of had to feel good, because they weren’t done filming. The film crew on Earth got right to work while Russian officials helped Peresild, Shipenko, and Novitsky out of the MS-18 capsule. The New York Times reported that a producer could be seen shouting instructions on the livestream of the landing provided by Roscosmos and NASA.
“Guys, please, let us do some shooting,” the producer said. “Please, do not do any filming on your smartphones. Do not take any videos, because right now, this is actually the future end of the movie.”
Geena Davis has played several complex characters, but the actress, gender and STEM advocate, producer and model is hesitant to call them role models.
For example, take Thelma Dickinson from the iconic 1991 movie, Thelma & Louise. She was characterized as the ditzy wife of an insensitive, bullying, unfaithful carpet salesman.
But it wasn’t until after the Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning actress portrayed this role that she began to consider how women in the audience might feel about it. She also realized the limited opportunities women have to feel empowered or excited about female characters.
And when Davis became a mother, that realization hit hard.
‘If she can see it, she can be it.’
“When my daughter was a toddler, I began watching children’s TV with her, and I was stunned to notice what seemed to be a huge gender disparity in entertainment made for young kids,” says Davis, “It occurred to me that this was a very unhealthy message to send to kids in the 21st century, which led me to create the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.”
Motivated by these imbalances, Davis founded her non-profit research organization in 2004. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (GDIGM) researches gender representation in media and advocates for equal representation of women. The organization works collaboratively within the entertainment industry, thanks in large part to Davis’ connections, and aims to create gender balance, foster inclusion and reduce negative stereotyping in family entertainment media.
Currently headquartered in Los Angeles, GDIGM has collected the largest body of research on gender prevalence in family entertainment, with children’s entertainment being a primary focus.
“My Institute has conducted numerous studies over the years showing that diverse and high-quality portrayals of women and girls are quite simply missing from children’s media,” Davis says.
Youth ages 8-18-years-old are engaging with media more than 7 hours a day, according to GDIGM. And although women and girls are 51 percent of the population, entertainment media does a poor job of reflecting that with the ratio of approximately 3:1 male to female characters.
“This has a real impact on young viewers’ ideas about themselves and the occupations they pursue,” Davis says. Disparities are most apparent in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM fields), where only one-quarter of scientists and engineers in the United States are female.
According to Davis, media plays a contributing role to the dismal numbers. She points to a 2012 GDIGM study that found low representation of female STEM characters. The study analyzed occupations in children’s media and found that, for every 15 male characters shown in STEM jobs, there was only one female character portrayed in a STEM profession.
“STEM characters were rarely featured in leading roles, and when they were, men STEM characters were moderately (but significantly) more likely than women STEM characters to be leads,” says Davis. However, when girls do see women in STEM in media, it has a significant impact.
In a 2018 study titled, “The Scully Effect,” GDIGM looked at the influence of “The X-Files’” protagonist Dana Scully on girls and women entering the STEM field.
“Nearly two-thirds of women working in STEM today say that Scully served as their personal role model and increased their confidence to excel in a male-dominated profession,” Davis says, “In other words, as we say, ‘If she can see it, she can be it.’”
An Actress & Advocate
Born Virginia Elizabeth Davis in Wareham, Mass., Davis’ mother, a teacher’s assistant, and her father, a civil engineer and church deacon, were both from small towns in Vermont. Davis also has an older brother named Danforth “Dan.”
At an early age, she became interested in music. Davis learned piano and the flute and played organ well enough as a teenager to serve as an organist at her Congregationalist church in Wareham. She went on to attend Wareham High School and was an exchange student in Sandiviken, Sweden, becoming fluent in Swedish.
It’s been said that she actually adopted the nickname, Geena, after seeing shows with the characters Cheburashka and Gena the Crocodile, which aired as a children’s segment in a national television show in Sweden in the late 1970s.
Davis attended New England College before earning her bachelor’s degree in drama from Boston University in 1979. Following her education, she served as a window mannequin for clothing retailer Ann Taylor until signing with New York’s Zoli modeling agency.
Davis made her acting debut in the 1982 film, Tootsie. In 1986, she starred in the iconic thriller, The Fly, which proved to be one of her first box office hits. While the fantasy comedy, Bettlejuice, brought her to international acclaim, it was the drama, The Accidental Tourist, in 1988 that earned her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She cemented her leading actress status with her performance in Thelma & Louise, receiving a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Later, she starred in A League of Their Own in 1992, which provide to be a critical and box office success, earning her a Golden Globe Award nomination.
Through her work with the Geena Davis Institute and focus on gender in the media, Davis has launched the annual Bentonville Film Festival and executive produced the documentary, This Changes Everything, in 2018. She also received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for all she has done to fight gender bias on and off the screen in Hollywood.
Changing Tomorrow — Today
While areas of gross gender inequality remain, Davis insists the one category where the underrepresentation of women can be fixed overnight is on screen. “The very next project somebody makes, the next movie, TV show, can be gender-balanced,” she says. Which is why the purpose of the research done by GDIGM is not to educate the public, but to take the data directly to the creators of children’s media and share it in a private, collegial way. Since its inspection, GDIGM has prompted a significant change in messaging at major networks and studios. The institute has conducted custom educational workshops and presentations for industry leaders, like the Cartoon Network, CBS, DreamWorks, FOX Feature Animation, PBS, Sesame Workshop, Universal Pictures, The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. The GDIGM website (seejane.org) sites its influence over gender portrayal in content like Inside Out, Hotel Transylvania, Monsters University, The Dark Crystal and DocMcStuffins.
“We are seeing a concerted effort on the part of content creators to strive for greater diversity, equity and inclusion in their stories,” Davis says, “They have embraced our data, and are applying it along with our research tools.”
In addition to getting data into the hands of content creators, Davis has also taken the initiative to create content herself. Davis is the Executive Producer of Mission Unstoppable on CBS. The educational television series from Litton Entertainment is hosted by Miranda Cosgrove and centers on diverse, female STEM professionals. Yet, the engagement of the show goes beyond TV. It’s a social media movement, meeting young girls in the places they’re most drawn to, such as Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Twitch. The content ranges from meet and greets with women role models in STEM, to how scientists use hormones to be able to tell if someone is in love.
Davis says the visibility of unique, intersectional, female characters in entertainment and media is essential to challenging negative stereotypes.
“That’s why shows like Mission Unstoppable are so important,” Davis says, “Increasing media depictions of women in STEM is easy to do, and provides a big bang for the buck.”
And it would seem critics agree. Mission Unstoppable was nominated for two Daytime Emmys in 2020, including outstanding entertainment/educational series.
Davis has also helped champion an AI called, “GD-IQ: Spellcheck for Bias,” that leverages patented learning technology to analyze scripts for unconscious bias and discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disabilities.
“We launched our first ML tool in 2015, GD-IQ, which uses ML along with Human Expert coding,” Davis says, “Which has now gone well beyond just measuring gender which has been used to analyze video for ads, movies and TV shows.”
Davis says her team worked to develop another tool that could be used in the pre-production phase of content development in order to review and improve diversity and inclusion before content went into casting and production.
“This is how Spellcheck for Bias was developed and built utilizing some of USC Viterbi’s patented text IP, which we are currently using to analyze text in scripts, books etc.,” she says, “We’re already testing it with major studios like The Walt Disney company and NBC Universal.”
The new tool can rapidly analyze a script to determine the ratio of male and female characters and how accurately they represent the real population at large. The technology also can discern the numbers of characters who are people of color, LGBTQI, possess disabilities or belong to other groups typically underrepresented in mainstream media.
In the decade since she started GDIGM, Davis has used her influence to move the needle. And slowly but surely, the needle has moved.
In family films, the percentage of lead characters who are female has doubled from 2007 (24 percent) to 2019 (48 percent) and the percentage of leading female characters in children’s television was 42 percent in 2008; that rose to 52 percent by 2018.
“We are beyond thrilled to see one of the most important goals we set [on-screen parity] has been reached during the time we’ve been advocating for it,” Davis says.
Though she is quick to add there is still work to be done.
The Road Ahead…Doing Your Part
“When it comes to intersectionality of gender and the other dimensions, we measure such as race, LGBTQ+, age, abilities, body type…those haven’t budged yet, but we’re very confident that on-screen representation will improve significantly within the next 5 years.”
As a viewer, Davis says there is actually a lot you can do to encourage programming that is diverse, equitable and inclusive.
“Viewers can use the power of their voice via social media to support and challenge what they see in media and entertainment,” says Davis, “Secondly, they can choose what they decide to watch and view with their families. Third, consumers who have children, can use their media consumption as a way to engage in a dialogue with their children around what messages they are receiving and guide them on how to interpret it.”
At the very least, Davis says we can think critically about the content we consume.
“I encourage you to think like a content creator and explore what a gender review might look like on the show you just viewed… Could a female portray a male character?” she asks, “Was the language used by girls equally empowering to that of male characters? Did the portrayal of characters bolster or shatter stereotypes?”
When we take the time to ask these questions, we will see the value of parity in programming.
“Together, we can introduce positive role models onscreen that our children can learn from and emulate in real life,” Davis says.
So, while Geena Davis’ characters are not all role models, as a champion for gender diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM-related industries, she certainly is.
Instagram is making it easier to address people by their defined pronouns. The company announced today that it’s allowing people to add up to four pronouns to their profile, which they can then choose to display publicly or only to their followers. (Users under 18 will have this setting turned on by default.) Instagram says people can fill out a form to have a pronoun added, if it’s not already available, or just add it to their bio instead. Instagram says this is available in a “few countries,” but doesn’t specify further. We’ve reached out for more information and will update if we hear back.
A couple Verge staffers already have the pronouns setting available to them, suggesting it’s live in the US. You can get a better sense of the feature’s user flow in the screenshots below, courtesy of news writer Jay Peters.
Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has a lot more on his mind these days than the sport.
For more than a decade, he’s been focused on introducing underserved students to a STEM education, which is science, technology, engineering and math. Blacks and Latinos are underrepresented in the field, in which workers tend to earn more than non-STEM workers with similar education levels.
The Covid pandemic has made his mission even more urgent. Students of color are seeing the biggest learning loss amid school closures, a McKinsey & Company report found in December. That translates into a hit on future earning power.
“It’s a social justice issue; giving kids a better idea of where they can go with their education,” Abdul-Jabbar said.
He began his nonprofit, Skyhook Foundation, in 2009 to provide those educational opportunities to 4th and 5th graders in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Typically, the students attend a camp for five days and four nights in the Angeles National Forest and get an immersive learning experience. The attendees are largely English language learners and participate in free or reduced lunch programs.
When the pandemic hit, the foundation adjusted and used eco-vans to bring the camp to individual recreation centers and playgrounds, while remaining socially distant.
“We try to give them their first experience with science and let them know it’s not something exotic, it just takes application and they can learn a lot,” the six-time National Basketball Champion said.
“It’s been very gratifying for me to see the light turn on with the kids, when they started to realize what’s possible and where they can go with this information.”
Yet there are still several obstacles in Abdul-Jabbar’s path, namely the ability to reach more children. There is currently a six-year wait list to get into Skyhook Camp. There is also a lack of WiFi access and computer equipment for many.
King’s win for lead actress in a limited series or movie for her portrayal of Angela Abar (a.k.a. Sister Night) in the HBO superhero drama is her fourth career Emmy. This ties the record held by Alfre Woodard for most acting Emmys won by a Black performer.
Created by David Lindelof, “Watchmen” is based on the acclaimed comic book series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons but is not a direct adaptation. It is more like a sequel that follows new characters such as King’s Sister Night.
This “allowed me to tap into all those things I think are just wonderful about being a Black woman,” King previously told The Times. “[T]he blueprint that was the inspiration for Angela was probably every Black woman that ever was.”
In addition to being recognized for her performance in “Watchmen,” King has previously won the lead actress in a limited series or movie Emmy in 2018 for “Seven Seconds.” In 2015 and 2016 she won in the supporting actress in a limited series or movie category for her performances in “American Crime” (playing different characters each time). King has five career Emmy nominations so far.
Woodard, who has earned 17 Primetime Emmy nods, won in 1984, 1987, 1997 and 2003. These recognitions were in the supporting actress in a drama series category for “Hill Street Blues,” guest performer in a drama series (before there were gender-specific categories) for “L.A. Law,” lead actress in a miniseries or special for “Miss Evers’ Boys” and guest actress in a drama series for “The Practice.”
The other Black actors with four Emmy wins each are Chris Rock and Bill Cosby, but their awards include non-performance categories. Rock has won three Emmys in writing categories (1997, 1999 and 2009) in addition to his variety, music or comedy special win in 1997 for “Chris Rock: Bring The Pain.” Cosby, who is currently serving time after being convicted of sexual assault in 2018, won three consecutive lead drama series actor Emmys for “I Spy” (1966-1968) and in the variety or musical program category in 1969 for “The Bill Cosby Special.”
Continue on to the LA Times to read the complete article.
“She’s younger than Baby Yoda and she already has an Emmy,” Jimmy Kimmel said after a visibly shaken Zendaya, 24, became the youngest Emmy winner for best lead actress in a drama for her role as Rue on HBO’s “Euphoria.”
The breathless actress, who was surrounded by a semicircle of teary-eyed supporters and wearing a crystal bandeau top with a billowing black-and-white polka-dot skirt, clearly had not prepared an acceptance speech.
“This is pretty crazy,” Zendaya said as she clasped her hands over her statuette, as though hardly daring to believe it was real.
The Disney-actress-turned-drama-star beat out the decades-older counterparts Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Colman, Sandra Oh and Laura Linney to claim the crown — not to mention the incumbent winner, Jodie Comer, who set the record last year when she won for “Killing Eve” at age 26.
“Thank you to all of the other incredible women in this category,” Zendaya said. “I admire you so much.”
“Euphoria,” a drama series created by Sam Levinson about high-school students who navigate love, sex, drugs and identity conundrums, premiered on HBO in June 2019. It received six nominations this year, though Zendaya’s was the only one for acting. HBO announced last year that the series had been renewed for a second season.
The actress said she was inspired by others her age who were working to make a difference in the world. “I just want to say that there is hope in the young people out there,” she said. “And I just want to say to all our peers out there doing the work in the streets: I see you, I admire you, I thank you.”
The Television Academy nominated a record number of Black actors for Emmys on Tuesday morning, with 34.3% of the acting nominees being Black.
There were 102 acting nominees this year across lead, supporting and guest categories for drama, comedy and limited series/TV movie. Thirty-five of those slots went to Black actors (notably, Maya Rudolph actually accounts for two of those slots, being nominated against herself in the guest comedy actress category for her work on both “The Good Place” and “Saturday Night Live”).
Other nominees in top acting categories include Billy Porter, Sterling K. Brown, Zendaya, Anthony Anderson, Don Cheadle, Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, Regina King, Jeremy Pope, Octavia Spencer and Kerry Washington.
This is a notable increase from last year, when Black actors made up 19.8% of the nominee pool, as well as an increase from 2018, when there were 27.7% Black actors nominated — the previous highest percentage in the Academy’s history.
“2020 isn’t just about the global health crisis. This year we are also bearing witness to one of the greatest fights for social justice in history, and it is our duty to use this medium for change. That is the power and responsibility of television — not only delivering a multitude of services or a little escapism, but also amplifying the voices that must be heard and telling the stories that must be told. Because television, by its very nature, connects us all,” said Frank Scherma, chairman and CEO, Television Academy, at the start of the nominations announcement.
But the fight for inclusion is far from over, as these numbers have ticked up but are still far from parity. And although the acting categories are still split by gender, which forces parity, the writing and directing categories are not.
The writing categories fared better than directing, but only marginally, when it came to parity. Not including the variety series writing category which lists entire staffs on the ballots, the select writers scoring noms in the drama, comedy, limited series/TV movie/dramatic special, variety special and documentary or nonfiction program consisted of 40 people, 13 of which were women. This is 32.5% women nominees (67.5% men). The limited series/TV movie/dramatic special category is what really made the difference, with six of nine nominees here being women, including “Unorthodox’s” Anna Winger and “Normal People’s” Sally Rooney and Alice Birch.
Continue on to Variety to read the complete article.
As previously announced with the Kennedy Center’s Social Impact initiatives, the Center will launch Arts Across America on July 27, a program to uplift artists and showcase art from communities and regions across the country in this time of uncertainty.
Over 20 weeks, Arts Across America will feature free, digital performances from over 200 diverse, visionary artists who play leadership roles in their communities, exemplify unique regional artistic styles, and are using their medium as a tool for advocacy and social justice. Arts Across America is made possible and livestreamed by Facebook and will continue through December 11, 2020.
“Bringing the world closer together is at the core of Facebook and that’s exactly why we’re supporting the Kennedy Center’s Arts Across America program to help people around the country connect virtually through their appreciation for the arts,” said Facebook’s Director of Public Affairs Robert Traynham. “We look forward to seeing the diverse artists share their talents through this innovative program.”
There is a good chance that most people reading this have tuned into at least one live video over the last week. It’s something that is becoming increasingly popular, and is expected to continue to increase in popularity going forward. There are many good reasons why more influencers and businesses alike are turning to creating a live video community, and harnessing the power that it can offer. Now is the time to learn how to create a live video community and why it’s so important to do so.
“People are showing that they love live video and interacting with it in a big way,” explains Alexander Riesenkampff, the chief executive officer of GetVokl, a livestreaming platform. “We have helped many people build and grow their live video community, and know that as this field continues to grow, we will be helping many more.”
People tend to feel more urgency to watch a live video. Seeing that it’s live gets them interested. The area of live video offers a lot of potential for those who are brand influencers, businesses, or those who want to make a strong connection with their followers. Not only is viewing live video on the rise, but research shows that it tends to outperform recorded video.
Those interested in creating a live video community should spend a little time exploring how others have done it. GetVokl, for example, has many live communities that can be accessed, providing a good place to do a little homework and learn the ins and outs. Once you are ready to get started, GetVokl can help you create a larger community. They also make it easy to directly monetize the audience. The app allows each live video to be shown across multiple platforms at one time. This ensures that your video is live across all platforms, rather than being live on one and then having to post a recorded video to the others.
Here are 5 reasons why it’s a good idea to create a live video community:
Live video gives you the ability to increase engagement and interaction with your audience. It allows for immediate feedback and discussion. This helps to build authority, make a connection, and increase loyalty.
An effective marketing tool, creating a live video community can lead to an increase in sales and revenue. It gives all types of companies and influencers a way to increase their earnings.
Live video communities feel real and authentic. This is one of the reasons why people prefer it to recorded videos. Most recorded videos are heavily edited, yet people prefer the authenticity that comes with it being live.
There is a greater ability to make an impact when you engage in live video with your target audience. They can ask questions, provide immediate feedback, and get to know your personality more.
Audiences tend to watch for a longer period of time when the information is coming to them live, as opposed to in a recorded video. Keeping your target market watching longer makes for a more effective marketing experience.
“Creating a livestream community is something anyone can do,” added Riesenkampff. “Once you do it, you will see there are benefits. It’s like getting the chance to be with your people in the same room, even if they are thousands of miles away. Whether you hold Q&A sessions, offer how-to talks, host interviews, provide advice, or just offer fun looks into what you are doing, it leaves a powerful mark.”
GetVokl is an app that allows people to livestream across multiple platforms at one time. It’s free to use and ideal for podcasters, coaches, teachers, bloggers, reporters, or others who want their livestream to reach people on multiple platforms. It’s quick to set up and easy to use, requiring only minimal technical knowledge. GetVokl also features VCoin, which helps podcasters earn more money by letting people give tips or donations as the livestreaming takes place. To learn more about GetVokl or to download the app, visit the site: https://getvokl.com/.
About GetVokl: GetVokl is a free livestreaming community platform built for podcasters, livestreamers, and hosts to unleash the potential of their audiences through interactive live shows that inspire and create vibrant communities. GetVokl allows a livestream to be broadcast over multiple social media platforms at one time. Join or create your live video community. To learn more about GetVokl, please visit https://about.getvokl.com.
Families who play Pokémon GO and have dreamed of taking their kids to the game’s annual live event, Pokémon GO Fest, may have an easier time doing it this year.
The augmented reality game played via mobile app encourages participants to get out and explore their real-world surroundings by connecting the Pokémon universe to actual local businesses and landmarks
But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the game’s creators are taking the need to travel out of the equation, allowing families to participate in Pokémon GO Fest 2020 right in their own backyards.
Niantic formerly held Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago, Illinois, and in cities in Germany and Japan, where hundreds of thousands of fans traveled to designated outdoor parks to meet up in person and participate in special in-game challenges. But the spread of COVID-19 left the game creators needing a more socially distant way to connect fans.
“While we can’t bring hundreds of thousands of people together in a local park, we can certainly recreate the spirit of what Pokémon GO Fest represents,” Niantic said in a blog post. “We’ve designed this year’s event so trainers around the world can go outside to play and celebrate the summer, and do so, of course, while practicing social distancing and being safe.”
Tickets for the 2020 event, which will be held over the weekend of July 25-26, are on sale now. A GO Fest ticket, which covers both days of play, will cost each participant (each mobile device running the event and playing along) $14.99. Participants will enjoy a brand new adventure within the app on those days, and will have special projects and assignments to complete, all exclusive to the ticketed event.
During past in-person Pokémon GO events, the parks where the events were held were split into various “habitats,” where players could complete tasks and catch different Pokémon. For the virtual event, there will be rotating habitats within the app which will change every hour, regardless of the player’s geographic location.
Niantic plans to donate all proceeds from Pokémon GO Fest ticket sales to supporting the Black community amid the continuing protests surrounding the deaths of George Floyd other victims of police brutality. The proceeds will fund new projects from Black gaming and augmented reality creators as well as donating to U.S. non-profit organizations who are helping communities rebuild.