Fox Audience Strategy has announced that writer Ester Lou Weithers is this year's Fox Writers Intensive (FWI) Fellow. Ester, who was selected from a group of 12 finalists announced earlier this year, has received a script development deal with FOX Broadcasting Company and 20th Century Fox Television. Since 2011, the FWI has nurtured experienced writers with diverse voices, backgrounds and life experiences and created a pipeline of well-rounded talent for potential staffing on FOX television shows, films and other Fox Entertainment projects.
The FWI finalists spent four months in a rigorous curriculum, administered by FWI partner Film Independent, that focused on honing writing skills for various mediums and establishing creative connections across Fox's television, film and other entertainment businesses. This year's program featured collaborative sessions with producer Glen Mazzara; senior executives from FOX, 20th Century Fox Television and FX Networks; as well as managers and agents.
"Writing for TV requires a lot of trust, collaboration and fearless creativity," said Todd Harthan, creator and executive producer of FOX's drama "Rosewood," which has staffed FWI alumna Diana Mendez as a story editor. "FWI engenders these values in its participants."
"Establishing FWI as a creative resource was a primary goal for our company and, through our partnerships with so many of the Fox creative businesses and shows, that goal is being realized -- to the benefit of the industry," said Nicole Bernard, Executive Vice President, Audience Strategy, of Fox Television Group. "I am especially thrilled that the FWI participants embraced the addition of our partnership with The Young Storytellers this year to contribute to the future pipeline of dynamic talent."
Ester worked at MTV in New York before relocating to Los Angeles to start her writing career, which took her to the writers' room for "House of Lies." In 2015, she co-created and directed the web series "Sexless" and "Chef Julian." Ester's script "Sparrow" resulted in her being named this year's FWI Fellow.
The FWI seeks both to elevate the craft of participating writers and further establish deeper connections with a wide range of Fox staff writers, showrunners, screenwriters, filmmakers and creative executives across television (both on-air and multiplatform), feature films and digital entertainment.
Fox Audience Strategy is a department within 21st Century Fox designed to identify programming and operational opportunities that reflect diverse perspectives across all of its entertainment platforms.
With Chris Froome's record-breaking win at the final stage of the Tour de France on July 24, 21st Century Fox-sponsored Team Sky once again delivered on its reputation as the U.K.'s premier professional cycling team. Froome, who led his nearest competitor, Peter Sagan, by four minutes and five seconds, became the first Briton in history to win the race three times, and he took the opportunity during his acceptance speech to emphasize the teamwork for which Team Sky is so well known.
"To my teammates and support team, this is your yellow jersey too," Froome said during his acceptance speech. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for your commitment and sacrifice... This is one special team, and I'm so proud to be a part of it."
Yet for Team Sky, the work doesn't end when the race is over. Its riders are committed year-round to use their platform as major sports stars to encourage cycling fans toward active, healthy lifestyles.
"Linking inspiration to participation in sport is the holy grail," said Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford. "I think that has been genuinely achieved for the first time by Sky's involvement in cycling."
Team sponsor Sky launched a Sky Loves Cycling digital campaign this summer to not only rally support for the riders as they prepared for the Tour de France but also inspire fans new and old to take up the sport for themselves. Followers on Twitter and Facebook received the most up-to-date news on the team's performance at the Tour, as well as training tips and motivating photos and video.
"The Sky Loves Cycling channels have been created to bring cycling fans closer to the sport and to provide them with the cycling inspiration they need to get on their bikes," said Ian Murray, Head of Brand for Sky Cycling & Team Sky.
The campaign is the latest in a long tradition of public engagement efforts on the part of the team. Its Sky Ride events, for example, which launched in 2009, are credited with inspiring more than 1 million people in the U.K. to take up regular cycling, and for the past three years, the team has supported young people in the Los Angeles area during its participation in the Amgen Tour of California.
During the most recent Tour of California, Team Sky and 21CF donated bikes, helmets, Team Sky shirts and more to the young members of the South Bay Boys & Girls Clubs in Los Angeles. The riders also spent the afternoon of May 11 guiding the kids from South Bay through a cycling confidence course, helping them get comfortable riding and giving them the tools they need to stay active and healthy.
Fox Studios hosts female students from Pakistan as part of State Department Women's Empowerment exchange
Photo by Frank Micelotta for PictureGroup
Dr. Munazza Yaqoob and her students at the International Islamic University, Islamabad's Critical Thinking Forum spend most of the year researching the role of women in Pakistani society and in cultures around the world. Thanks to the efforts of Fox Studios and filmmaker Jennifer Lee, Dr. Yaqoob and the students got to expand their studies and their perspectives this summer through a special field trip to the Fox lot in Los Angeles.
Fox opened its doors to seven of the university's top female graduate students on July 13 as part of an exchange organized by Lee and the Women's Empowerment programs at the U.S. Department of State. The visit, which included a full tour of the studio lot and its operations, gave the students an up close and personal look at the American entertainment industry.
"A trip like this is so valuable for them, because by spending time here, many stereotypes of Americans have been dissolved," said Lee, who was the coordinator for the students' visit. "Most of what they know of American life comes from our media, but the diverse neighborhoods of Los Angeles and the beauty of the Fox Studios lot gave them a much more complex view of our culture. They were very impressed with our love for our families and our environment."
Lee began working with the Critical Thinking Forum after they invited her to campus to screen Feminist Stories from Women's Liberation, her documentary tracking the achievements of the women's movement between 1963 and 1970. Lee kept in touch with Dr. Yaqoob for several years and finally partnered with the State Department on a trip to Los Angeles for them to tour multiple cultural sites, including the Fox Studios lot.
Volunteers from across the Fox entertainment businesses pitched in to make the students' visit a memorable one. They offered a full tour of the historic studio lot and a behind-the-scenes look at production on Bones, from costumes and set construction to post production and sound design.
Photo by Frank Micelotta for PictureGroup
Of 21st Century Fox's combined 103 nominations for the 68th Emmy Awards, five belong to He Named Me Malala, the powerful documentary from Fox Searchlight and National Geographic chronicling the life of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai. In February, the National Geographic Channel aired the global broadcast premiere of the film commercial-free and ran a social media campaign with 21CF to raise funds for Malala's work to ensure young women and girls have access to quality secondary education. 21CF and its employees donated more than $125,000 to Malala Fund to provide education for Syrian refugee girls living in Jordan and Lebanon.
He Named Me Malala's five Emmy nominations include:
- Outstanding Production Design for a Variety, Nonfiction, Event or Award Special: Alexander Fuller, Production Designer; Lori West, Art Director
- Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program: Erich Roland, Director of Photography
- Outstanding Directing for a Nonfiction Program: Davis Guggenheim
- Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program: Greg Finton, ACE, Editor; Brian Johnson, Editor; Brad Fuller, Editor
- Outstanding Sound Editing for a Nonfiction Program (Single or Multi-Camera): Skip Lievsay, Supervising Sound Editor; PK Hooker, Sound Editor; Susan Dubek, Dialogue Editor; Bill Bernstein, Music Editor
"This incredible and critically acclaimed film left movie audiences applauding this young woman's journey and left them wanting to make a difference," said Courteney Monroe, CEO, National Geographic Global Networks. "We are extremely proud and honored to have dedicated National Geographic's collective resources to bring awareness of Malala's advocacy for girls' education to our global audience."
21CF's fundraising efforts around the film, which included an employee donation matching campaign, have helped empower young women in war torn regions by supporting Malala Fund's educational partnerships across the Middle East. The Kayany Foundation in Lebanon completed construction of a school in May to serve 200 Syrian refugee girls ages 14-20. The Middle East Children's Institute in Jordan will expand its Girls Clubs programs to an additional 100 girls ages 13-17. Malala Fund partnered with The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on their Walking to School Initiative, where adults in the Azraq refugee camp accompany girls to school, and Malala Fund and Save the Children partnered to establish computer labs and IT literacy courses for 150 girls ages 13-24 living in the Za'atari Refugee Camp in Jordan.
Middle and high school students embark on global journeys through National Geographic Student Expeditions program
Photo courtesy National Geographic
What better way to spend a summer than by exploring the world with National Geographic? The legendary institution has spent more than 125 years at the forefront of scientific discovery, and now it's offering middle and high school students the chance to join in on the action.
National Geographic's Student Expeditions program offers educational travel experiences for students all over the world, providing unique learning opportunities at more than 40 locations for budding photographers, writers and scientists. National Geographic also provides scholarship assistance for students in need, awarding nearly two dozen free expeditions this summer to students completing 6th through 12th grades. 21st Century Fox expanded its partnership with the National Geographic Society last fall, with 27% of all current proceeds going toward the society's grant-making pursuits.
"On our student expeditions, we're teaching a number of discrete skills--filming, photography, science, climate change, history, whatever the focus might be--but also, we're teaching self-confidence," said Ford Cochran, Director of Programming for National Geographic Expeditions. "We're trying to give students the sense that what they have to say matters and by the end of the few weeks that we have with them in the field, they leave as leaders."
For each student expedition, National Geographic selects a trip leader from its vast global network of explorers and researchers. The trips can last anywhere from 12 to 21 days and often focus on wildlife conservation and archaeology, as well as how to tell stories about the people and places the students encounter. Many of the trips involve a service component, with opportunities for the students to tutor English, work on a small-scale construction project, or support a local conservation effort.
"This trip is amazing; it's the best thing that's ever happened in my life so far," said Sam M., who embarked on a recent expedition to Iceland. "It gives an opportunity to kids like me to explore their interests further and just seeing that is different than anything I could ever read in a textbook."
Sam is one of several students each year who receive scholarship funds from National Geographic toward participation in the Student Expeditions. Scholarships are generally awarded to students whose parents' combined income is less than $50,000.
"It's also about meeting all sorts of different kinds of people from all sorts of different kinds of backgrounds," Cochran said. "And that's not just about the people in country that we go and meet. It's about the diversity of the students that we include in the program. They're learning from one another and setting examples--becoming role models for each other."
The application period for National Geographic Student Scholarships will re-open for summer 2017 this fall.