Fox Audience Strategy has announced the finalists for the fourth annual Fox Writers Intensive, a competitive fellowship at the Fox Studios Lot in Los Angeles for writers with diverse voices and backgrounds. This year, FWI selected twelve writers and writing teams for the program, which allows participants to work closely with Fox showrunners, writers, directors, and creative executives.
"Authenticity is essential to successful storytelling. That process starts with hiring writers with diverse and authentic points of view, and that's exactly who we want to engage through the Fox Writers Intensive," said Nicole A. Bernard, Executive Vice President of Audience Strategy for 21st Century Fox.
With the help of the nonprofit Film Independent, FWI offers trained writers a fourth-month curriculum focused on developing original material, learning and honing writing skills for multiple mediums, and exploring the business of media and entertainment. Upon completion of the program, finalists receive priority staffing meetings for the established FWI Staff Writer position on Fox productions. The program also aims to provide each writer with a first-look deal on his/her original scripts.
At the conclusion of the intensive, one finalist will be named the 2015 FWI Fellow, who will be awarded either a purchase and development deal on his/her original script or a "first-look" deal from FOX Broadcasting Company or any of its affiliated entities.
This year's FWI finalists were selected from more than 400 nominations and submissions by talent representation and arts organizations across the country. Visit Deadline Hollywood for the full list of finalists.
Fox Audience Strategy is a cross-divisional resource to help Fox film and television businesses engage and appeal to a culturally diverse audience. FAS works with the Fox businesses to encourage more diverse hiring and authentically reflect diverse audiences. Learn more at FoxAudienceStrategy.com.
In its most recent episode, which aired Friday, February 13, FOX's Glee featured a performance by a 200-person choir comprised entirely of people from the transgender community. FOX worked closely with the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD to assemble the choir.
"This really is the face of America and you hope that when people see this episode they'll recognize, 'Hey, they look just like me,'" said Glee executive producer Dante DiLoreto. "This isn't about tolerance, it's about coming home, and coming home to who you really are -- and who you're meant to be and who you're meant to be with."
In the episode, entitled "Transitioning," football coach Shannon Beiste (Dot Marie Jones) returns to McKinley High as Coach Sheldon Beiste, and he struggles to adjust to his new life as a man. He finds support from student Wade "Unique" Adams (Alex Newell), a transgender student who has been a recurring character on the show since the third season. Unique leads the transgender choir in a performance of "I Know Where I've Been" from the musical Hairspray.
"We know [this storyline] will make a difference," Jones told The Hollywood Reporter. "Look at all the things that all the kids on our show have gone through, everything that Chris Colfer and Kurt have gone through. Of any show on broadcast, it should be a Fox show because they are the risk takers. I don't think even taking a risk is the right word. It's just real."
Together, FOX and GLAAD recruited transgender singers from all over the country. According to GLAAD, many of them said they had never been in a room with so many other transgender people before.
For more information on the choir, visit GLAAD.org, and see below for a behind the scenes clip of the episode:
At the 46th Annual NAACP Image Awards on Friday, February 6, Fox Searchlight's Belle was named the year's Outstanding Independent Motion Picture, and Misan Sagay was recognized for writing the screenplay. The event celebrates the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts (television, recording, literature, motion picture, writing, and directing), as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors. Belle received five total nominations, including for Outstanding Motion Picture.
Set in the late 1700s, the film is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a British admiral who was raised by her aristocratic aunt and uncle. Sagay told The Riveter that she wrote the film "to shine a light on issues that had relevance then and have relevance today."
Projects by other 21st Century Fox businesses received nominations, as well. Jamie Foxx and Zoe Saldana received acting nominations for Rio 2 and The Book of Life, respectively.
In the television categories, FOX comedies Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Mindy Project, as well as dramas Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, and Red Band Society received acting nominations, as did FX's American Horror Story: Freak Show and Twentieth Century Fox Television's Modern Family.
For the complete list of winners, visit NAACPImageAwards.net.
Each year at its Los Angeles Awards Dinner, the Family Equality Council, a U.S.-based nonprofit advocating for LGBTQ parents and families, recognizes media, companies, and public figures that encourage equality for all families. This year, the organization will honor Fox's Glee and Modern Family for advancing the national conversation around the LGBTQ community.
"These two hit shows brought complex, sympathetic, and realistic LGBTQ characters into living rooms across the nation," the organization said in a press release. "Their stories celebrate LGBTQ individuals and families. The positive exposure these series have brought to LGBTQ parents and their children has been and continues to be a vital part of the movement to spread marriage and family equality."
The event, hosted at the Beverly Hilton on Saturday, February 28, will also feature performances by Glee cast members Lea Michele, Darren Criss, Chord Overstreet, Alex Newell, and Becca Tobin, as well as singer Maxine Nightingale. Actors Matt Bomer, Dot Marie Jones, and Amber Riley, all of whom have appeared on Glee, are also scheduled to appear.
The Family Equality Council will also honor Annise Parker, who became the first LGBTQ mayor of Houston, Texas, in 2010, as well as Honey Maid for their #thisiswholesome campaign featuring families who fall outside traditional definitions of the word "family."
Twentieth Century Fox Television, the production studio home to Glee and Modern Family, is a Gold Sponsor of the event, along with Ryan Murphy Television.
The Family Equality Council works at the federal, state, and local levels to create a world where all loving families are recognized, respected, and protected. Learn more at the Family Equality Council website.
This week, the LGBT advocacy organization GLAAD announced the nominees for the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, which honor media for their fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives. Three Fox series were among the nominees.
FOX Broadcasting's comedies Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Glee, along with Twentieth Century Fox Television's Modern Family, received nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series. All three series were nominated last year, and Glee and Modern Family have each won twice before.
"This year's nominees... reflect the widening diversity of LGBT images and storylines that are closing the gap to full acceptance," said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.
The 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards will be held on March 21 at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles and in New York on May 9 at the Waldorf Astoria New York. For more information on GLAAD and a full list of nominees, visit GLAAD.org.