Who Has TV Greenlight Power in Hollywood? A Broadcast Network Guide
By Tim Molloy and Jethro Nededog, The Wrap
This is the hardest time of year to be a television executive.
With the fall season looming, the heads of entertainment at the major networks have to decide what shows you'll watch next season. Some will be surprise hits. Others embarrassing failures. And it will all come down to the choices executives make in the next few weeks.
Pilot season resolves in May with splashy upfront presentations to advertisers, where networks will find out how well they've chosen by how many millions of dollars advertisers decide to spend during their shows. A good greenlight will follow an executive throughout his or her career. A bad one will make him or her a laughingstock.
But no head of entertainment is an island. Every decision to put a show on the air comes with hours of deliberation with people above and below the chief. So we talked with the heads of ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS and individuals from the various studios that pitch them to see how the decisions of what you'll be watching next September are made and who are the players behind those decisions.
ABC: PAUL LEE
Title: President of ABC Entertainment Group
Background: Lee makes the greenlight decisions at ABC. But this year will be the last one he does so with the input of his boss, President of Disney-ABC Television Group Anne Sweeney. She's leaving to become a TV director, and being replaced by ABC News Chief Ben Sherwood, who will also be involved in this year's pilot process.
The executive is known to search out advice and opinions on pilots. Paul Lee makes decisions by committee, one former studio executive told TheWrap.
Quote: Well, I think like everyone else, I have a comedy team and a drama team and, of course, I consult with my teams on which shows to pickup, Lee told TheWrap. They are a very passionate group and have strong opinions which certainly weigh heavily. But in the end you have to trust your gut and go with the shows you believe in.
Tough Decisions: Lee's job is complicated by his network's close relationship with Disney. A synergistic Avengers spinoff like Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a sure thing at the network no matter who was at the president's desk.
Marvel is a big gorilla in the company there, so they don't go through the same pilot process, said an individual who has represented several studios in the pilot-pitching process.
Lee also has a fondness for broad comedies that sometimes confound critics, like The Neighbors and Work It.
Hits: ABC's latest show, the drama Resurrection, has been one of its biggest hits. It has performed well in both of its last two weeks.
Misses: Lucky 7 was the first new fall show on any network to be canceled this season even though it was part of the same Tuesday-night block as S.H.I.E.L.D.
CBS: NINA TASSLER
Title: Chairman of CBS Entertainment
Background: The longest-serving network entertainment chief recently renewed her contract to stay with the most-watched network through 2017. Tassler works closely with CBS CEO Les Moonves, who pays close attention to how the network's shows perform. (He recently opined to investors that three new comedies, Mom, The Millers and Crazy Ones all appear to be working, and that CBS's problem is always where to fit all of its hits.) What Tassler doesn't do is weigh in on CBS's corporate cousins, the prestige cable network Showtime and the CBS- and Warner Bros.-owned CW. Greenlight power at those networks resides with David Nevins and Mark Pedowitz, respectively.
Quote: CBS Corp., as a company, does not discuss its greenlight process. But Tassler did tell us this when asked with whom she consults: Me, Les, really it comes down to a small core group of people. Everybody weighs in and we have a great process of sort of filtering through and letting everybody have a voice and express their point of view. It's a great forum in which to let the cream rise to the top and then make those decisions.
Tough Decisions: Moonves is right: CBS has a deep bench of high-performing shows. Some of them do very well in viewers, but not as well in the key 18-49 demographic, which means CBS has to choose every year whether to cater to its older viewers or make a play for younger ones. It still has the top-performing sitcom in the demo, The Big Bang Theory. And NCIS thrives with a graying audience especially, though in a sign of the times, the cable show The Walking Dead defeats it in the demo. Still, most networks would love to have a dilemma like CBS does.
Hits: Greenlighting The Big Bang Theory was Tassler's greatest gift to CBS. She also greenlit the longrunning How I Met Your Mother, which the network is spinning off. Before she was CBS's President of Entertainment she was just promoted to Chairman she helped develop hits including NCIS and CSI.
Misses: Disappointments this season included Hostages and We Are Men.
FOX: KEVIN REILLY
Title: Chairman of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Co.
Background: The chairman of entertainment for Fox, who has been on the job since 2007, takes full responsibility for what goes on the network's air. But he consults with his staff and his boss, Fox Networks Group CEO Peter Rice. Though Fox has run into recent ratings troubles due largely to American Idol slipping in popularity, Reilly has had a remarkably successful run. The network spent years as the top-rated in the key 18-49 demographic before CBS snatched the crown last season.
But individuals from rival networks, as well as Fox insiders, said not to overlook Fox chief operating officer Joe Earley's contributions to the pilot selection process. He has had a big say in what gets greenlit at the network since he took the job two years ago, and his say is expected to be greater now that both programming and development report to him.
Quote: I certainly talk to my staff and get a lot of input, but at the end of the day, for better or for worse, the buck stops with me, Reilly told TheWrap.
One insider agreed that Reilly is very open to input. Kevin is very accessible, he said.
Can anyone get a show on the air without his approval?
No, not really, Reilly said. Peter Rice and I have a very close working relationship. I seek Peter's counsel a lot. I certainly inform him how everything's going. Peter's running the whole group right now. Peter and I have worked together for the last few years. But ultimately Peter also believes in making your own decisions and having autonomy and standing up for what you believe.
Tough Decisions: Reilly has set out to dramatically change the way networks typically do business by dismantling the old September-May season. He has said pilot season is over for Fox, and that he will greenlight shows throughout the year. One of Fox's biggest swings this year, the 24 relaunch Live Another Day, won't debut until May.
Reilly tends to go for genre dramas, often with a tinge of sci-fi or fantasy, like this year's successful Sleepy Hollow. The comedies he greenlights, like the hit Glee and Golden Globe-winning Brooklyn Nine-Nine, tend to be sharp and youthful. Seth MacFarlane holds enough sway at the network to keep the struggling Dads on the air, and also to get Fox to take a chance on Cosmos. It isn't exactly a hit, but does phenomenally well for a show about hard science. Putting it on primetime broadcast TV was a very ballsy move.
Hits: Sleepy Hollow was a success for Fox out of the gate this season, and Glee, which Reilly aired in 2010, became as much a social phenomenon as a show.
Misses: Reilly takes big swings that don't always connect. Terra Nova lasted just one season, and X Factor, which was to be the heir apparent to American Idol, fizzled after three seasons.
NBC: BOB GREENBLATT AND JENNIFER SALKE
Titles: Greenblatt is the Chairman of NBC Entertainment. Salke is the President of NBC Entertainment.
Background: Though Greenblatt has the last word at NBC, he and Salke work closely together. (In a recent interview they finished one another's sentences.) If one loves a project and the other doesn't, they try to change each others minds. Greenblatt, who recently renewed his NBC contract through 2017, was appointed when Comcast completed its purchase of NBCUniversal in 2011. Asked if Comcast weighs in on greenlight decisions, he said no. We obviously have a budget to manage, but it's just he gestured to Salke and himself.
She has influence definitely, one insider said of Salke and Greenblatt's relationship. They worked together back in the day and he brought her over from Fox. She has a lot of influence on him.
Quotes: You obviously have to spend your money wisely, Greenblatt said. Every time you pick up something, it takes a chunk of your budget. It's not like we just have an endless, Oh, we can put that on and that on and that on. So there's a lot of strategy about like, if we do this show that we like, we probably shouldn't do this one. So we talk a lot about that.
Adds Salke: Of all the networks, there's no bureaucracy. There's no, like, oh, we've got to go through all these levels. Let me manage and sell this up, and then this person's trying to stop it. And there's agendas. There's nothing like that. It's just all about the material. Do we like it? Can we convince each other if one of us doesn't?
Tough Decisions: NBC wants to be known for quick decision making. How quick? We spoke to Greenblatt and Salke on a Sunday. They had just greenlit an Amy Poehler-produced pilot, Old Soul, starring Natasha Lyonne as a woman who tries to make sense of her life while working with seniors.
If we love something like this Amy Poehler script that we got on Friday we both emailed the comedy team, said Salke. We got a first draft. We read it that night. We emailed Saturday.
Poehler may be an exception to the rule: An individual who has represented production companies in the pilot process with NBC told TheWrap that the network's process is deliberate. They stretch it out more than others do, he said.
NBC has a reputation for trying to keep talent in the family, and clearly fast-tracked Poehler, the star of Parks and Recreation.
NBC has been like that since the Brandon Tartikoff days, the insider said. In town, NBC is the most overt about it. They keep their talent and they do a lot of deals to keep their talent happy.
Hits: Greenblatt didn't greenlight The Voice, a hit that arrived at NBC soon after he did. But he cleverly used the hit singing competition as a lead-in to other shows, like Revolution and The Blacklist. (Revolution slipped dramatically without The Voice as a lead-in, but NBC believes The Blacklist will fare better on its own.) One of Greenblatt's babies, a Sound of Music live musical, was a surprise smash for NBC in December.
Many writers and other creatives see The Blacklist as NBC's big turning point. It came up several times in our reporting of this story.
Misses: Another Greenblatt favorite, Smash, was canceled in its second season. And Michael J. Fox's return to TV, The Michael J. Fox Show, couldn't find an audience. NBC was once the most popular destination for Thursday night comedy, but now can't touch CBS's Big Bang-anchored lineup.
PBS: BETH HOPPE
Title: Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming
Background: PBS doesn't work like any other broadcast network, because it doesn't face the same ratings pressures. It greenlights shows and specials at meetings led by Hoppe, who has held her position since 2012. She meets with just four other people as she decided what public television fans will see. They include Senior Director of Program Scheduling Shawn Halford, Senior Vice President of Programming and Business Affairs Mike Kelley, and two genre heads. Vice President of General Audience Programming Donald Thoms handles independent film and arts, while Vice President of Programming and Development Bill Gardner handles science, history and natural history. Another genre, news and public affairs, does not have a leader at the moment.
The meeting process is straightforward, but the way PBS acquires shows is not: Besides creating its own shows, it also picks up programming from stations all over the country, the most productive of which, Boston's WGBH, is the home of Nova, and Frontline. WGBH's Masterpiece co-produces Downton Abbey, PBS's bigggest hit, with Britain's Carnival Films. WNET in New York and WETA in Washington, D.C., are also top producers.
Quote: We always like to say there's many paths into PBS. We have a biweekly greenlighting meeting that includes me, my genre heads and the scheduler. And that's it that have to say yes. We try to be pretty agile and get people answers quickly. We work also with our producing stations and they often actively develop projects and raise some of the money themselves. But once they put the package together it comes through here, too.
Tough decisions: PBS doesn't have to sell ads or suffer the viewership demands that networks do. That allows it to fulfill its mission of providing the most high-quality programming possible, without trying to appease the lowest-common denominator. But it still wants people to watch, because there's no point in offering shows that no one sees. It also needs people to donate: Contrary to popular belief, only 15 percent of its $598 million annual budget comes from the federal government.
Hits: Hoppe was upfront about what's worked out and what hasn't. I know everyone associates drama on PBS with Masterpiece's Downton Abbey, but I'm really happy to have greenlit bringing several other British dramas to our schedule including Last Tango in Halifax and Bletchley Circle. I'm most proud of Call the Midwife, which has become a favorite with fans and critics alike, she said. (The third season of Midwife premieres Sunday.)
Misses: In 2012, we launched Market Warriors as a companion to Antiques Roadshow,' Hoppe said. The numbers were good, but the audience fell so sharply from its Roadshow lead-in we ultimately decided not to renew it.
THE CW: MARK PEDOWITZ
Background: Three years ago, Pedowitz was given the job of bringing The CW to the next level as its president. With nearly two decades of experience at ABC previously, Pedowitz was given some leeway in trying to figure out how to redefine the network, which targeted women 18-34. The CW has since expanded beyond soapy teen dramas to broader action and high-concept shows, more adult dramedy, and reality competitions.
Quote: CW is owned by CBS Corp. and Warner Bros., and declined to take part in this article because of CBS Corp.'s policy of not discussing its greenlight process. At the Television Critics Association press tour in January, Pedowitz said he considers The CW to be a platform as well as a broadcaster. The CW was an early adopter of On Demand and streaming video. With fewer time slots to fill than other broadcasters, Pedowitz orders fewer pilots.
Tough decisions: Perhaps because it is at the mercy of two parent companies, The CW has let some series stay on the air longer than they would have elsewhere. For example, CBS hand-me-down, the Sarah Michelle Gellar-starrer Ringer, and Warner Bros. TV's Sex and the City prequel, Carrie Diaries, both outlived initial buzz and overstayed their welcome.
Hits: Streaming deals with Hulu and Netflix add to the network's revenue and increase viewers. Arrow has been a success, fulfilling Pedowitz's desire to broaden the networks audience by adding more men 18-34. It has also inspired the CW to move forward with another DC Comics-based pilot, Flash. In November, the CW beat NBC's Thursday-night comedy lineup for the first time in the 18-49 demographic.
Misses: The CW, like all networks, recognizes that to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs. Pedowitz has greenlit several shows that he saw as probable hits, either because they came from producers of CW hits like The Vampire Diaries or because they beckoned back to the networks roots. (It was formed from the WB and UPN networks.) Its broken eggs include The Secret Circle, Cult, Emily Owens M.D., H8R and Breaking Pointe.
Call for Entries: Viewfinder Latin America
Viewfinder Latin America - Fresh perspectives through the lens of local filmmakers around the globe
Latin America's burgeoning economic footprint, together with its political, cultural and environmental profile, has raised its status to new heights. Across the continent there is a certain sense of shared identity and cultural heritage. Nearly every nation was, at one time, an extension of a colonial power. But today they have transitioned to their own unique identity and are each forced to live with a legacy of their own making. Many of these countries are awash in natural resources and rich with indigenous diversity and emerging voices.
As Al Jazeera expands its coverage of the region, it is critical to develop an on-going relationship with regionally based filmmakers. For our audience we strive to connect stories with the best possible storytellers. For Latin America, there is an increasingly intense spotlight on how successfully these vibrant nations will navigate their near future.
Al Jazeera's documentary series Viewfinder is a unique, long-term project showcasing independent filmmaking talent from around the globe. These films focus on the power of storytelling to provide a deeper insight into the impact of global events on local communities. These are stories brought to you through the experiences of those on the front lines of a rapidly changing world.
Our Open Call site-Deadline April 30, 2014
Viewfinder endeavours to do what no other broadcaster has done before: develop regionally based filmmaking talent and bring those new perspectives to a worldwide audience. It speaks to the vitality and energy of local voices reaching a global audience.
Our 2014 season of films speaks to cultural, economic, environmental and social change across this rich, vast domain.
'Nobles'' Alazraki, Zimbron Create Alazraki Entertainment
By John Hopewell, Variety
Adding another significant player to the companies working the U.S./Mexico interface, Gary Alazraki, director of "We Are the Nobles," and former Warner Bros. exec Leonardo Zimbron, a "Nobles'" producer, have joined forces to launch Alazraki Entertainment.
Alazraki will serve as chairman, Zimbron as CEO. With offices in Mexico City and Los Angeles, the tentacles of Alazraki Entertainment, an integrated production company, reach into movies, TV, live entertainment, online, commercials and production services.
"Our strong diversification is attractive for investors, offering collateralization and multiple options for recoupment," said Zimbron.
Also aiding its access to investorsand above all expertise marketing for the Mexican market and beyond, Alazraki Ent. will form part of Alazraki Networks, one of Mexico's biggest and most diversified of communications, PR, marketing, retail advertising and commercials companies. Carlos Alazraki, Gary Alazraki's father, serves as Alazraki Networks chairman. Alan Dayan, Alazraki Networks' CFO, is overseeing fundraising and fund management for the new company, aiding its quicker output on projects.
Alazraki and Zimbron will fold Alazraki Films, the lead production house on "Nobles," and Traziende Films Zimbron's first shingle after leaving Warner Bros. and the producer of "Efectos secundarios" and "Pulling Strings" into Alazraki Ent.
AE's commercials and production services will be offered via Bahia 5, a company headed up by Francisco Gallastegui. Monica Vargas will serve as AE's chief of operations, Moises Chiver as head of production.
Making "Nobles," his feature debut, Alazraki's "big dream," he said, was to break into Hollywood.
Times have changed. The riches-to-rags comedy-drama, which grossed $26.25 million in Mexico, becoming its highest-grossing local movie off all time, put Alazraki on Hollywood's radar, and brought down the flag on a clutch of movies Eugenio Derbez's "Instructions Not Included," now "Get Married If You Can " which suggest a mass movie market for at least select Mexican films.
"The breakout we achieved in Mexico turned us into a company the studios were willing to look at. After Eugenio Derbez's success, they are looking at the Latino market here," Alazraki said.
"If I am in the U.S. I won't be able to do anything in Mexico, and vice versa. So I need a partner," he added.
In other market moves, two new TV networks launch in Mexico late 2015. Once finally up-and-running, fibre optic networks suggest huge potential for pay TV in Mexico.
Alazraki Entertainment will create what it sees as upscale modern entertainment for the Mexican and U.S. Latino markets.
Regarding movies, Alazraki said his new company
plans to design projects with Mexico/U.S. crossover potential. It will identify "subjects that concern us as people, as a country, or a generation, wrap them in a good genre-driven story to appeal to wider audience and also give them something to talk about," Alazraki said.
Zimbron said AE will also sell and buy remake rights.
As for TV, Alazraki Ent. aims to produce "high-end premium fiction entertainment in the form of what HBO, Netflix, and AMC have been doing but in Spanish, shot in Mexico, with stories that can actually start to speak to a higher-end audience, the more sophisticated viewers who have internet, cable, and a world culture, plus the aspirational middle-class that wants to move into that bracket, "Alazraki said.
"There's a market of 30 million viewers without high-end entertainment being made for them. We want to create a conversation with them," he added.
Alazraki Ent. will act as a talent hub. "It highly important for us to foster new talent that now has a business infrastructure to get their films done, and start to live off filmmaking," Alazraki commented.
It will also play off synergies between its divisions. Commercial production is a great training ground for bigger projects, Alazraki said.
"Some very interesting stories in films could be adapted for the stage," said Zimbron. "TV properties could create movies and vice-versa," he added.
AE also reps a drive towards "a self-sustaining industry that can start relying on other business structures besides fiscal incentives, combining co-production and foreign sales," Alazraki said.
First projects will be announced this month or early April.
Zimbron served as Warner Bros.' director of local production between 2005 and 2011.
Call for Entries: PGA Diversity Producing Workshop
The Producers Guild is encouraging all eligible producers to apply to the 10th Annual "Power of Diversity" Producing Workshop.
This may very well be the best kept secret in Hollywood! Designed to foster the development of aspiring and seasoned producers with diverse perspectives in television, film and digital media, this ten-week workshop offers a once in a lifetime chance for you learn from some of the world's top producing talents.
Current and past mentors include:
Ralph Winter and many others.
For further information, schedule of sessions and application forms, please go to: www.pgadiversity.org today!
Deadline for submission is April 18th.
Register for the NALIP Media Summit Early Bird Rate by Friday!
Dear NALIP members, its now or never. The popular Early Bird Special, which offers members $200 off the NALIP Media Summit registration price, ends FRIDAY!
Don't miss out on the chance to learn media secrets from the industry's top executives, through panel discussions, keynote lunches and countless networking opportunities that will move your career forward.
The clock is ticking, register for the NALIP Media Summit today.
15th Havana Film Festival New York, Apr. 3-11
The 15th Havana Film Festival New York will run April 3-11, featuring an outstanding program of 45 films - 24 of them Cuban! Our line-up includes World, U.S., and NY premieres, and well as award winners from Sundance, Cannes, Guadalajara, and Berlin. A true Latin American film feast that will take place all around the city, at Quad Cinema, Directors Guild Theater, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Museum of the Moving Image, CUNY, King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at NYU, and School of Visual Arts Theatre.
On Thursday, April 3, starting at 5:45pm at the Directors Guild Theater, we will roll out our red carpet with the U.S. premiere of Conducta / Behavior. The latest feature by acclaimed Cuban director Ernesto Daranas (Los Dioses Rotos) has been breaking box-office records since it opened in Cuba. The buzz has already crossed the ocean and we can't wait to share it with you!
Click here to purchase passes and tickets.
For more information visit www.hffny.com
Looking forward to seeing you at the festival!
Call for Entries: New Media Film Festival
An International Festival based in Los Angeles, the New Media Film Festival celebrates the ever-changing world of new media. Declared "worth the entry fee" by MovieMaker Magazine and hailed for making "the cutting edge accessible" by Huffington Post, New Media Film Festival accepts new media entries across a variety of categories.
The jury includes reps from Pixar, Fox and The Caucus, among others. A total of $45,000 USD in awards will be presented at the 5th Annual New Media Film Festival June 10th & 11th 2014.
Join filmmakers from around the world, hear industry leaders, and network with distributors and investors... submit today!
Where Did "Hispanics" Come From?
By Claude S. Fischer PhD for Sociological Images
One may well wonder where the term "Hispanic," and for that matter, "Latino," came from. The press and pundits are all abuzz about the Hispanic vote, Hispanic organizations, and Hispanic cultural influences. Back in the mid-twentieth century, however, they wrote about Mexicans or Puerto Ricans or Guatemalans, not about Hispanics. Of course, people of Latin American origin have become far more numerous in the United States since then and the immigration itself brings more attention. Nonetheless, the labels have changed. Starting in the 1970s, the media rapidly adopted the "pan-ethnic" term Hispanic, and to a lesser degree, Latino, and slowed down their use of specific national labels.* So did, organizations, agencies, businesses, and "Hispanics" themselves.
As recounted in her important new book, Making Hispanics, sociologist (and my colleague) G. Cristina Mora tells the story of how people as diverse as Cuban-born businessmen in Miami, undocumented Mexican farm workers in California, and third-generation part-Puerto Ricans in New York who do not even understand Spanish were brought together into one social category: Hispanic-Americans.
Politics, Business, and Government
Mora describes an alliance that emerged in the 1970s among grassroots activists, Spanish-language broadcasters, and federal officials to define and promote "Hispanic."
Activists had previously stressed their national origins and operated regionally notably, Mexicans in the southwest (where the term "Chicano" became popular for a while) and Puerto Ricans in the northeast. But the larger the numbers they could claim by joining together, the more political clout, the more governmental funds, and the more philanthropic support they could claim. Pumping up the numbers was particularly important given their latent competition with African-American activists over limited resources and limited media attention. Some pan-ethnic term promised to yield the biggest count.
Spanish-language television broadcasters, notably Univision, looked to expand their appeal to advertisers by delivering them a national market. Although the broadcasters faced obstacles in appealing to Spanish-language viewers across the country differing significantly in programming tastes and dialects, they managed to amalgamate the audiences by replacing content imported from abroad with content developed in the United States. They could then sell not medium-to-small Mexican-, Cuban-, or Puerto Rican-American audiences to advertisers, but one huge Hispanic-American audience.
Making the term official as a census category helped both activists and entrepreneurs. Previously, the Bureau of the Census classified Latin Americans as whites with distinct national origins, usually poorly measured. The activists pressed the census bureau, as did some politicians, to provide as broad a label as possible and count everyone who might conceivably fit the category, including, for example, the African-origin Dominicans (although not the French-speaking Haitians nor the Portuguese-speaking Brazilians). This pressure led to the 1980 formulation, used ever since, in which the census asks Americans whether or not they are "Hispanic" separately from whether they are white, black, Asian, or Indian.
The three interest groups worked together to publicize and promote the idea and the statistical category of "Hispanic." As Mora explains, leaving the label's meaning somewhat ambiguous was useful in both expanding the numbers and in selling the category as a large needy population to the government and as numerous, affluent consumers to advertisers. The three parties also campaigned to get other institutions, such as state vital statistics bureaus and big businesses to adopt Hispanic as an official category. Many so-called Hispanics preferred and still prefer to call themselves by their national origins; Mora quotes a 1990s bumper sticker, "Don't Call Me Hispanic, I'm Cuban!" But the term has taken over.
And, so Hispanic-Americans matter a lot now.
Categories of people that we take to be fixed for example, our assumptions that people are old or young, black or white, male or female often turn out to be not fixed at all. Social scientists have documented the way the definition of Negro/African American/black has shifted over the generations. There was a time, for example, when the census bureau sought to distinguish octoroons and a time when it could not figure out how to classify people from the Indian subcontinent. In Making Hispanics, Mora lets us see close up just how this new category, Hispanic, that we now take to be a person's basic identity, was created, debated, and certified.
One lesson is that it could have been otherwise. If the pace and sources of migration had been different or if the politics of the 1970s had cut differently, maybe we would be talking about two separate identities, Chicano and "Other Spanish-speaking." Or maybe we would be classifying the darker-skinned with "Blacks" and lighter-skinned with "Whites." Or something else. Making Hispanics teaches us much about the social construction of identity.
* Based on my analysis of statistics on New York Times stories and the nGram data on words in American books. Use of "Chicano" surged in 1960s and 1970s, but then faded as "Latino" and, especially, "Hispanic" rose.
Claude S. Fischer is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley and the author of Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character. This post originally appeared at his blog of the same name.
Prolific Mexican Producer Alex Garcia Is Just Getting Started
By Anna Marie de la Fuente, Variety
Mexican producer Alex Garcia's AG Studios is ready to break ground later this year on a facility in New Orleans, where it plans to shoot three English-language movies back-to-back-to-back. But that's just one of several ambitious projects from the 47-year-old Garcia, who has designs set on establishing a wrestling franchise outside Mexico with U.S. partners who include Robert Rodriguez and Mark Burnett, with hopes that their Lucha Libre personae can fuel a Latino Marvel.
It's quite a leap for Garcia, who, despite having invested some $300 million in nearly 100 pics since 2006, hired a publicist recently not to create buzz, but to stanch it. But now that he's relocated to Malibu, he's ready for his closeup.
Garcia launched AG Studios last year, an umbrella company that has absorbed his entertainment biz-related investments valued at $500 million in the U.S. and Latin America. The entity includes a $250 million film fund to back pic production, and his investments in an international sales/Mexican distribution unit (Latam Distribution), an animation studio (Anima Estudios), film festivals (Morbido and Baja in Mexico) and online film platforms such as Slated and Mubi.
At the Louisiana soundstages, AG has three English-language pics teed up: Juan Kuri's directorial debut "Mind Puppets," Colombian adaptation "Luto" and an untitled film from helmer Michel Franco.
Even more ambitious is AG Studio's participation in the Lucha Libre AAA franchise outside Mexico. Along with existing partners Antonio Cue and Dorian Roldan, Garcia tied up with Rodriguez, John Fogelman's FactoryMade Ventures and Burnett to make a Lucha Libre reality series for El Rey Network.
With the lofty objective of creating a Latino Marvel, Lucha Libre AAA and FactoryMade have commissioned the company that created the "Avatar" creatures, Starlight Runner Entertainment, to conceptualize heroes based on the colorful masks the wrestlers wear. "It's scripted theater; children are their biggest fans," Garcia says. "This has the potential to launch in multiple platforms, from comicbooks to films, TV and the Web."
Having been a banker for 20 years, and having managed a diverse number of businesses including a frozen food company, bakery, restaurants, real estate, nightclubs, electronics manufacturing and hotels, Garcia invested in Anima Studios in 2006. When Jose Padilha's 2007 "Elite Squad," one of the first live-action pics he backed, won the 2008 Berlin Golden Bear, he was hooked.
He has kept his investments modest, not spending more than $10 million on a project as a rule. He prefers to invest in films budgeted at $2 million to $3 million, where he can recover his investment at a reasonable pace as the pic travels through a gamut of distribution platforms from theatrical to DVD, television and online streaming services such as Netflix.
Garcia is readying construction on a studio in Medellin, Colombia, in the next few months, after last year's launch production shingles Itaca Colombia and Itaca Brazil, which joined Itaca Mexico, Costa in Argentina, 11:11 in Colombia and L.A.-based boutique shingle BN under the AG Studios banner. BN was co-founded in 2012 with Argentinean Lucas Akoskin, who produces shorts anthology "The Heartbeat of the World" with Garcia and Guillermo Arriaga.
Upcoming projects from Itaca Mexico include Alfonso Pineda's "The Jesuit," scripted by Paul Schrader; Gael Garcia Bernal starrer "El Desierto," helmed by "Gravity" co-writer Jonas Cuaron; and Demian Bichir's directorial debut "El Refugio," with Eva Longoria.
Garcia's expertise may be in the business end of companies, but he sees himself as a creative exec. "My financing background has helped me to raise money, but I find it tedious," Garcia says. "I enjoy the production process being on set." His favorite projects include "Elite Squad," which grossed $14 million worldwide and cemented the bona fides of helmer Padilha; Mexican box office hits "Top Cat" ($15 million wordwide) and "Km 31" ($10 million in Mexico); and "The Snitch Cartel" (El Cartel de los sapos), the Colombian entry to 2012's foreign language Oscar race.
Ultimately all the films Garcia backs conform to one overriding financial formula. "One should recoup 80% of one's investment or at least 30% by the first three years," the exec explains.
His plans seem to be working. "I've always recouped my investments," he says.
Why Net Neutrality Matters So Much to Indie Filmmakers
By Jordan Zakarin, The Wrap
Consumer groups and tech advocates have been voicing concern about the growing threats to net neutrality, but Hollywood - especially independent filmmakers and distributors - have plenty of reason to worry about the walls and toll booths being erected to discriminate between internet content.
Soon after Netflix reached a deal with Comcast to directly access its broadband network and thus make its service faster for the cable company's customers, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings ripped into the "arbitrary tax" that the cable network forced his company to pay. He asked readers of a post on the streaming service's site to "imagine the plight of smaller services today and in the future," and looking downstream, there are plenty of outlets that specialize in independent film that have become endangered before they are established or even launch.
"If we want to directly sell movies off our site, like Louis CK does, the challenges that I then have is, what price do I have to pay to make sure that my information is delivered at the speed and is as high quality as it can be?" Ted Hope, a veteran indie film producer ("21 Grams," "Adventureland") who now runs the independent distributor Fandor, told TheWrap. "To get information faster, big pocketed entities like Netflix go and make deals with Comcast, but small companies don't have that option."
Fandor operates on a revenue-splitting model, allowing filmmakers to sell their work directly to consumers by using the site as a platform. It is one of many services that operates in this sort of fashion; an ever-growing list also includes Vimeo, Joost, Indiefix and even large companies like Hulu, which has not struck a deal similar to that which Netflix grudgingly made with Comcast.
Platforms, in this case, could either ultimately be forced to pay for special access to the pipes and thus pass along the cost to either the consumer or the filmmaker or fall behind.
"The independents are now looking at the smaller companies who are competing not only with Comcast, but also with Netflix, and don't have the money to pay for preferred carriage, and are not going to pay for co-located interconnection," Jean Prewitt, the CEO and President of the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA), told TheWrap. "And those are increasingly going to be the services that a lot of our members are going to be looking to as their way onto the internet. Or, our members are looking themselves to put forward their own service in which they aggregate content of a particular genre or type and try to put forward."
In theory, having just a handful of content distributors equipped with the fastest connections could be okay for independent filmmakers, but monopolization and market share have already constricted the free flow of movies, and that would only get worse. The struggle of independent distributors and platforms is intimately connected with the fate of independent filmmakers because outlets like Netflix and iTunes (which may also reach a deal with Comcast), as well as the cable companies' own VOD offerings, are so tightly curated. This, even before the courts struck down the FCC's Net Neutrality principles in January.
"If you do not have films that have been theatrically released in the United States, or have a very strong, quite obvious niche audience, it's very difficult to get on the major VOD services," Prewitt said. "That's true for a couple of reasons, but it's complicated by the fact that none of the big services really are putting out there unlimited capacity."
The fact that distributors and platforms don't release their VOD profits only adds to the problem, as it's hard to tell which movie is a surprise hit and discourages discovery.
The potential merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable could only serve to exacerbate that problem. The IFTA, which is on the record as pro-open internet, hasn't released an official position on that pending marriage, but is wary of its potential consequences.
"Increasingly independents have to go through one or more levels of aggregator, because no one coming down the line, starting at a Comcast, Time Warner or Fox, wants to deal with a company that only has one or two films to offer at a time," Prewitt said. "So they say go find someone else to package that together, and in many cases that's In Demand, which is commonly owned. In Demand chooses what it wants to put forward, and that's not everything, and In Demand won't deal with smaller distributors, so you have to go to another aggregator. And every one of those layers leads to cherry picking, costs and delay."
Simply put: If you weren't in theaters or don't have a star, you've got way less of a shot of getting of one of the big VOD systems. And if broadband providers price smaller VOD systems out of business or at least put them at a technical disadvantage, you're either out of luck getting distribution or paying a bigger share of your profit to one of the big name platforms if they do happen to accept your film.
"I care about net neutrality because I've got to try to get my movies out in a good way, any way I can," Daniela Taplin Lundberg, a veteran indie producer ("The Kids Are All Right") and partner at Red Crown Productions, said. "I want audiences to be viewing the content that I've slaved over through any platform. Whether that's Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, iTunes, I want them to be able to view it in the same way, with the best quality. That being said, that doesn't feel the way the tide is turning."
At the moment, Lundberg says, the uncertainty around which VOD services will carry her films and the financial boom or bust that will cause doesn't have much impact on many of the projects she chooses to produce, especially micro-budget features; you can only shave a budget down so far.
But, with pre-sales on distribution making up quite a bit of a film's financing these days, and theaters showing fewer and fewer independent films, there's more pressure on VOD. If there's no guarantee that a movie will make it onto a VOD system, no one will want to buy its home entertainment rights and that means a film just may not get made in the first place.
Now Accepting Submissions for NALIP's Youth Moves Forward Video Contest!
Calling all Young Media Makers!
NALIP is is now accepting submissions for the first ever Youth Moves Forward Video Contest.
This is a chance for talented youth to attend the largest and most prestigious annual gathering of Latinos in the media field nationwide, which includes industry led panel discussions, keynote lunches, and countless networking opportunities.
We are awarding 2 youths (21 and under) full 2014 NALIP Media Summit registration (valued at $500), plus winning videos will be displayed during the weekend to showcase our up and coming Latino media makers! So what are you waiting for? Submit your video, today!
NALIP Discount for John Truby's Anatomy of Story Master Class in NYC
NALIP members and friends receive a significant discounted rate to John Truby's Anatomy of Story Master Class.
The Anatomy of Story Master Class is the most modern, exciting approach and method to screenwriting to be developed in a generation. Over the course of a 25-year career as Hollywood's most respected and sought-after screenwriting teacher and story analyst, Truby offers successful and proven principles that allows the writer to precisely map their entire plot in a way that allows them to tell their story in the most dramatic way possible. Drawing on a broad range of concepts and archetypes from writing, philosophy and mythology, Truby's Master Class offers fresh techniques and insightful principles that allow the writer to design an effective, multi-layered, multifaceted narrative.
Truby's Master Class not only explains how a great story works, but gives you the principles and techniques needed to create one. Over three intense days, Truby lays out a practical poetics for storytellers that works whether you're writing a screenplay, a novel, a TV show, a play or a short story.
WHAT: John Truby's Anatomy of Story Master Class
WHEN: May 2-4 (Friday-Sunday)
TIME: 9:30am to 6:00pm each day
WHERE: Doubletree Guest Suites
Times Square1568 Broadway New York, NY 10036-8201
DISCOUNT $122 OFF!
Discount Code: NALIP
COURSE OUTLINE: Read the Full Course Outline Here
Call for Entries: HollyShorts Film Festival
Calling all filmmakers! This is the official call for entries for the 10th annual HollyShorts Film Festival, which takes place August 14-23rd, 2014 at the TCL Chinese Theatre, in Hollywood, CA.
Submissions must be in DVD NTSC, maximum running time 30 minutes.
We will showcase the selected shorts live in Hollywood in front of your industry peers!
Regular deadline is April 11, late deadline is May 23. Entry Instructions are on the HollyShorts website.
El Rey Network Renews 'From Dusk Till Dawn' For Second Season
By Whitney Friedlander, Variety
"From Dusk Till Dawn," the first scripted series from director Robert Rodriguez's El Rey Network, has received a 13-episode second season order.
"This is a truly unique property and one that has really resonated for viewers," said Rodriguez, who created the series based on the 1996 movie he co-wrote with Quentin Tarantino. "It has been a joy to bring these characters back to life and have the opportunity to take our storytelling to a whole new place. We look forward to going back into production later this year and are excited about raising the bar even higher in season two."
Rodriguez directed four of the first season's installments.
"Our decision to launch this ambitious original in just our first few months on the air was certainly bold but the payoff has been incredibly satisfying," said Scott Sassa, El Rey Network's Vice Chair. "As the television landscape becomes even more crowded, it's important for El Rey Network to have a recurring and memorable franchise that speaks to our audience and allows us to break away from the noise of all the competition. 'From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series' is most certainly that kind of property and we are thrilled with the response from our affiliate partners, advertisers, viewers and the international community."
The series is shot in Austin, Texas, home to the Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios.
Hispanic Moviegoers Had Major Impact on 2013 Box Office
By Todd Cunningham, The Wrap
Hispanic moviegoers played a huge part in the record 2013 U.S. box office, according to figures released Tuesday by the MPAA.
Despite representing roughly 17 percent of the U.S. population, Hispanics bought up 25 percent of the movie tickets sold in the U.S. last year. They number of Hispanics who are frequent moviegoers - those who go to the movies more than once a month - continues to grow and represents 32 percent of that group.
Motion Picture Association of America Chairman Chris Dodd detailed the strong Hispanic representation in his state of the industry report delivered Tuesday at CinemaCon in Las Vegas.
Despite purchasing fewer tickets in 2013 compared to 2012, Hispanics remained more likely than any other ethnic group to go to movies, according to the report. African-Americans and "others" purchased more tickets in 2013 than in 2012.
The share of tickets sold to Caucasians has been trending downward since 2009. The share of tickets sold to African-Americans increased for the first time since 2009, while the share of tickets sold to Hispanics declined slightly from 2012.
Lionsgate's comedy"Instructions Not Included" was a big factor. The Eugenio Derbez comedy became the highest-grossing foreign-language film ever in the U.S. with more than $44 million domestically last year despite never playing in more than 1,000 theaters.
And Universal made a point of targeting the Hispanic audience with "Fast & Furious 6" as well, and that paid major dividends. Hispanics made up 32 percent of the hot car blockbuster's opening weekend audience, while white moviegoers accounted for 29 percent, and it went on take in $238 million at the domestic box office.
Announcing the HBO/NALIP Documentary Filmmaker Award Winner!
It is with great pride that HBO and NALIP announce this year's HBO/NALIP Documentary Filmmaker Award winner and finalist.
Social change has been at the core of HBO's critically acclaimed and award-winning documentary programs, with a myriad of issues presented in uncompromising quality and honesty. A long-term sponsor of NALIP, HBO created in 2009 this $10,000 cash award for Latino filmmakers to focus its lens on the Latino experience. With this award, HBO supports the growth of social commentary by Latino documentarians. Films were judged based on the uniqueness of their topic/subject matter, the professional quality of the film, and the structure, tone and style planned for presenting the topic to an audience.
Out of the many high quality submissions this year, a winner and finalist, were selected by a panel of professional filmmakers and the HBO Documentary Films executives:
2013-2014 HBO/NALIP DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER AWARD WINNER
Looking at the Stars
Alexandre Peralta, Director and Editor
Look at the stars. Keep your head up. Don't let anyone stop you from achieving your dreams. The film is a motivational and inspirational documentary about the ballerinas at the Fernanda Bianchini Ballet Association for the Blind who are empowered women but also, happen to be visually impaired. It focuses on the triumph and tribulations of Geyza, the Prima Ballerina who was one of the first students at the school and is now a performer in their company and a ballet teacher. The film also follows the founder of the school, Fernanda, as well as three other ballerinas: Thalia, Marina and Talita. Though it is not always easy, these women prove that anything is possible when you follow your dreams.
Olhando Pras Estrelas (Looking at The Stars) was originally conceived at USC's School of Cinematic Arts, where the film crew met. Our goals are to empower young women with disabilities and affect the way the blind community is perceived. With that in mind, we would also like to create an accessible version of the film that has a rich sound design and narration so that the blind community, included in the viewing experience, can understand the film, and be inspired to follow their dreams. www.starsdoc.com
2013-2014 HBO/NALIP DOCUMENTARY FINALIST
Jessica Gonzales vs. the United States of America
Katia Maguire and April Hayes, Director and Producer (LPA 2009)
Jessica Gonzales vs. the United States of America is the story of one woman, who after surviving the murders of her three young daughters, becomes a crusader for the human rights of American women and children who suffer from domestic violence each year and depend on restraining orders to protect them. The film is currently in post-production and has been supported by the ITVS Diversity Development Fund and the Garrett Scott Documentary Development Grant.
NALIP Executive Director Axel Caballero Moderating Panel at NHMC MediaCon
Going to the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) MediaCon this Thursday, March 27? Don't miss the panel hosted by NALIP's Executive Director Axel Caballero! "Reaching the Emerging Online Audience" will be held from 2:15-3:30pm in the Hiro Room.
Reaching the Emerging Online Audience (Hiro Room)
Facing a quickly changing media landscape, how can digital media producers best adapt in order to not get left behind? What are the opportunities in user generated outlets vs digital distribution? Panelists will discuss the current state of affairs, what they are looking for in content, and how Latinos can gain access.
Moderator: Axel Caballero, Executive Director, National Association of Latino Independent Producers
Katherine Oyama, Sr. Policy Counsel, Google
Sara Inés Calderón, Editor, Más Wired
Ruth Livier, Actress/Writer/Producer, Livier Productions, Inc.
SAG-AFTRA Low Budget Theatrical Agreements Made Simple
On April 10, SAG-AFTRA presents the monthly Low Budget Theatrical Agreements Made Simple workshop where SAG-AFTRA Theatrical Business Representatives will walk you through signing SAG-AFTRA Low Budget Agreements from start to finish. Workshops are held in New York and Los Angeles at 6:00pm local time and are free.
Workshops fill up quickly so RSVP here now!
myLINGO Translates Hollywood Films into Spanish
From EFE News Services
A new smartphone application called myLINGO provides a simultaneous dubbing service for Spanish-speaking people so they can hear in Spanish the soundtracks of films screened in English at movie theaters.
The service, winner of the 2013 Harvard College Innovation Challenge, will debut on March 28 with the premiere of the film "Cesar Chavez," even as its creators are in contact with leading Hollywood studios to expand their catalogue of dubbed feature films, myLINGO said in a statement.
The myLINGO app is free, but downloading audio files will have a cost that the company describes as "a small fee."
The user, who will need headphones and an Android (Google) or iOS (Apple) smartphone, will have access to the official dubbing approved by the studio and which automatically synchronizes with sequences on the screen by means of sound-recognition technology.
The app was developed by two first-generation American brothers, sons of Polish immigrants, and its first goal is to offer dubbing in Spanish in the United States.
"myLINGO has partnered with Pantelion Films to bring together, for the first-time-ever, bilingual multi-generational families to enjoy an unprecedented movie experience," the company said.
Up to now the app has only been used as a demonstration of its dubbing system applied to a trailer of the movie "Despicable Me 2."
"Cesar Chavez" will be the first movie to be included in its catalogue.
The myLINGO app has the support of United Talent Agency CEO Jeremy Zimmer, among other Hollywood figures.
Apply to the Latino Media Market and Get a Six Month NALIP Membership in Three Easy Steps!
Do you have a feature project that is ready for development/financing? A documentary in production or post in need of finishing funds? How about a great concept for a reality TV series?
Apply to the Latino Media Market and become a NALIP member in three easy steps:
1) Download and review the Latino Media Market application here.
2) Complete & e-mail the application to: firstname.lastname@example.org by April 13, 2014 deadline.
3) Pay for your application fee.
Bonus: As a Latino Media Market applicant, you also receive a special registration rate to attend the 2014 NALIP Media Summit 2014.
The NALIP 2014 Latino Media Market (LMM) is designed to bring funders, studio executives, distributors, dealmakers, agents, mentors and employers together with NALIP members and their projects. The LMM will be held concurrent to the NALIP Media Summit on June 6-7, 2014 at the Sheraton Universal in Universal City, CA
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