Twentieth Century Fox Television

Television Academy Honors Social Change This Is Us

This Is Us cast with creator Dan Fogelman. Photo courtesy the Television Academy.

At the Tenth Annual Television Academy Honors on June 8, three programs from 21st Century Fox businesses were recognized for harnessing “the extraordinary power of television to advance social change.” The honorees included National Geographic’s Before the Flood, a documentary from Academy Award winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Fisher Stevens about the global effects of climate change, as well This Is Us and Speechless, two series produced by Twentieth Century Fox Television. Representatives from each program accepted the awards at the Beverly Hills event, which honored six total series drawn from more than 300 submissions.

"With a constant presence in people's daily lives, television consistently demonstrates its ability to power social change,” said Television Academy Chairman and CEO Hayma Washington. “The six honorees have effectively leveraged the medium to raise awareness of complex issues. We are honored to acknowledge storytellers producing meaningful television that provokes important conversations."

Before the Flood follows DiCaprio on a journey across five continents to explore the effects of climate change on our communities, as well as the political and social forces standing in the way of possible solutions. Throughout fall 2016, National Geographic worked to bring the film’s important message not only to government and business leaders but also to as many global viewers as possible, releasing the film across a record-breaking number of linear, digital, and social platforms. As a result, the film garnered more than 60 million viewers around the world, making it the most-watched National Geographic documentary in history.

“Typically, a network would buy a film and put it on their network exclusively, but we really felt that it was important for as many people to see this film as possible,” said Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks. “At National Geographic, we believe in the power of storytelling to change the world, and we think there is no more important issue facing our planet today than that of climate change.”

This Is Us is an ensemble drama tackling the full range of social issues that confront the contemporary American family, including marriage, adoption, racial identity, addiction, body image, parenting, and more. Speechless is a comedy series about the family of a teenager with cerebral palsy. The show has sparked new conversations about disability in America and has garnered notable acclaim for its decision to cast an actor with cerebral palsy in the main role. Speechless creator and executive producer Scott Silveri spoke to these points in his acceptance speech.

“The number of people in America with disabilities is a lot, and the number of people with disabilities on television is not a lot, and the number of those people played by actual performers with disabilities is next to none. Sorry to beat you down with statistics, but they don’t lie,” Silveri joked. “The barriers to casting those with disabilities are false and they’re imagined, and the rewards to casting those people are great… Part of our responsibility in what we do is to represent society as a whole, and you can’t do that without representing disability.”

Learn more about the Television Academy Honors, including detailed looks at each of the television projects that were recognized.


Women@Fox Launch Event

On Friday, May 19, 21st Century Fox launched “Women@Fox,” a group focused on fostering female leadership and initiatives that fuel the professional development of women across 21CF. Women@Fox began on the Fox lot in Los Angeles, with developing plans to roll out diversity and inclusion efforts across the entire company, beginning in North America.

An estimated 1,000 people, including 21CF Executive Chairman Lachlan Murdoch, attended the event, which featured participation from across the company, including Twentieth Century Fox Film Chairman and CEO Stacey Snider and Twentieth Century Fox Television Chairman and CEO Dana Walden, who participated in a panel moderated by FX Networks and FX Productions Development EVP, Gina Balian.

When asked for a piece of advice they would offer to women, Stacey said, “Whatever position you might be in…go a little bit further. Consider what the bigger mandate of your business is and try to see how you can really contribute to that mandate.”

In addition, the event featured remarks from Twentieth Century Fox Television CIO, Alex Grimwade; Fox Diversity and Inclusion SVP, MyKhanh Shelton; and Twentieth Century Fox EVP of Tech and Creative Strategy, Cristina Mancini.

MyKhanh told the crowd, “Diversity is really great for business…teams with different perspectives, backgrounds, and frameworks to see the world are better positioned to identify and solve the most complex problems of our day. And at Fox, we tell the stories of our time.  [We need those stories to be told by a] wide range of voices and perspectives.”

Women@Fox is an expansion of the employee resources available to all levels within 21CF, from those just entering the industry and beginning their careers, to women rising through the ranks, to senior executives looking to transform their teams while mentoring the next generation. Check out photos and a video from the event below.

(Anacani Munoz/Fox)


fox-writers-lab-diversity-hollywood-class

Photo by Saman Assefi Photography

For the sixth consecutive year, Fox has sought out some of Hollywood’s most exciting new voices to participate in the Fox Writers Lab, a fellowship program hosted by Fox Inclusion for young screenwriters with diverse perspectives, backgrounds and life experiences. The 13 finalists will work directly with Fox’s writers, directors, executives and more to hone their craft on the Fox Studios Lot in Los Angeles, with opportunities for staffing on the company’s film, television and digital productions. The Fox Writers Lab is one of several programs at 21st Century Fox designed to support the next generation of storytellers and create a pipeline of diverse talent into the industry.

"There's a deep well of untapped talent that deserves to be discovered, developed and empowered to tell their stories,” said Suzanna Makkos, head of comedy at the FOX network. “Fox Writers Lab is a great tool to open the door and create meaningful opportunities for these future writers, producers and creators, and I'm looking forward to working with the members of this year's class."

The finalists will spend 14 weeks on the Fox Lot, shadowing the company’s creatives, receiving feedback on their scripts, attending master classes with experienced writers and directors, and hearing from some of the industry’s most experienced figures through guest speaker sessions.

“Having been closely involved with Fox Writers Lab, it has been wonderful to see the impact its participants have made on a number of our dramas,” said Terence Carter, FOX’s head of drama. “While learning from the best auspices in the business, they bring new and fresh ideas to the writing room and bolster a creative process that thrives on diverse perspectives.”

The program has also partnered for a second year with the Young Storytellers, a nonprofit co-founded by Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk that is dedicated to helping young people discover the power of their own voices. The finalists will mentor elementary school students who are participating in the organization’s Script to Stage program, in which students write their own original short script, then see it performed live by professional actors.

At the conclusion of the program, one fellow will be named the 2017 Fox Writers Lab Fellow and awarded a purchase and development deal on his/her original script or a first-look deal with Fox network or any of its affiliated entities. All of this year’s finalists will receive staffing meetings for current Fox series and a first-look agreement to option their scripts. Participants from previous years have gone on to write for Fox shows such as Lucifer and Star.

“Lee Daniels and I wanted the Star writers' room to be as inclusive as possible,” said Tom Donaghy, co-creator and executive producer of Star. “We also wanted to find strong female voices who could write honestly for our young characters. When Jamila Daniel came to us through the Fox Writers Lab, we knew immediately how much she would bring to the project… We were lucky the Lab was there when we were hiring, and doubly lucky to hire Jamila.”

The Fox Writers Lab was initially launched in 2011 as the Fox Writers Intensive, and since then, it has become one of a growing slate of programs at 21CF that empower new voices in Hollywood. The Fox Filmmaker Lab, a partnership with the American Film Institute, is a mentoring program designed to increase the number of female directors working in the industry and recently announced its first class of 25 participants. In addition, the Fox Directors Lab last fall announced 16 Fellows to participate in its Comedy and Drama Apprenticeship Programs. Fox Inclusion is a department at Fox designed to identify programming and operational opportunities that reflect diverse perspectives across all of its entertainment platforms.

Learn more about 21CF’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, which include fellowship opportunities, filmmaking contests, professional training and more. 


Creators and cast of Shots Fired, New York screening

In advance of the upcoming TV premiere of Shots Fired on March 22, FOX has organized a screening series followed by conversations between the producers, cast, and various community leaders, activists, and members of law enforcement across the country. Shots Fired is a new 10-part series that takes an explosive look at the American criminal justice system through the prism of two racially charged shootings in a small North Carolina town.

Created by Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood, the show begins with an African-American police deputy (played by Mack Wilds) shooting an unarmed white teenager. Before the police department and community has time to process through the aftermath, a Department of Justice-assigned prosecutor and investigator (played by Stephan James and Sanaa Lathan, respectively) unearth another tragic shooting in the town, of an unarmed black teen, followed by an onslaught of twists and turns that threaten to tear apart their case and the community.  The show also stars Academy Award-winners Helen Hunt as the North Carolina governor and Richard Dreyfuss as the wealthy owner of a private prison, as well as Stephen Moyer as Lieutenant Breeland and Jill Henessy and DeWanda Wise as the mothers of two slain teenagers. By skillfully navigating social unrest, media attention, and political debate, Shots Fired untangles and exposes the complexities of race relations in America today. 

Following a screening at New York City’s Paley Center for Media on Thursday, March 9, the cast and creators participated in a moderated discussion about racial tension in America and filming the show in the middle of ongoing violence and tragedy in the country. “Dealing with two different murders allowed us to really get into how victims of violence are treated differently based on race,” said Prince-Bythewood, who also talked about their aim to inspire empathy by creating a show where every character demonstrates layers of complex humanity, rather than being painted as a villain or hero. Dreyfuss added, “This is the most current thing you’ll ever see. This is as current as tomorrow’s news…hopefully this show will start the national conversation that’s so overdue, that we’re still not being honest about.”

The screening series is taking place in 10 cities across the U.S., and each of the screenings is followed by a moderated panel discussion with the cast, creators, and community leaders, including Tony Dixon, president of the DC chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and Kathy Chaney, managing editor of Ebony magazine in Chicago.  

“I want people to have fun watching it—it’s fun to watch, but it’s also horrible. I hope that people cry, I hope they get mad, and I hope they have discussions and debates and that ultimately, some empathy is created—that people step out of the comfort zone they’re used to thinking within,” concluded Lathan at the New York screening.

Watch the trailer for Shots Fired, which premieres on FOX on Wednesday, March 22 at 8pm ET.


humanitas prize hidden figures birth nation this is us

At a ceremony in Los Angeles on February 22, the organization Humanitas announced the recipients of its 42nd Annual Humanitas Prize, recognizing the screenwriters behind two films and one television series from 21st Century Fox. Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder, who wrote Fox 2000’s Hidden Figures, tied with Robert Schenkkan of Hacksaw Ridge to win the Feature Film category, while Nate Parker and Dan Fogelman were honored for writing Fox Searchlight’s The Birth of a Nation and the 20th Century Fox Television production This Is Us, respectively. The Humanitas Prize celebrates onscreen stories that reflect a dedication to social progress and inspire compassion, hope and understanding.

“These were truly the best of the best, writers whose work engaged, illuminated, inspired and entertained, all while exploring the range of human experience from fresh and diverse perspectives,” said Humanitas executive director Cathleen Young. “Stories that inspire, engage and bring together are more important than ever in a world fractured along political and culture fault lines.”

The Humanitas Prize includes an award of $10,000 to each of the winners, many of whom announced their plans to donate the winnings to a nonprofit. Fogelman will donate his cash prize to the Motion Picture Television Fund, which provides health care services to those in the entertainment community. Parker will make his contribution to Together We Rise, which supports foster child programs across the United States.

“I write for my children,” Parker said during his acceptance speech. “As I write, I always ask myself, ‘What do I owe them?’ …This moment doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to the little kids.”

Hidden Figures continues to serve as the center of social impact campaigns encouraging young women and people of color to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and math. The film was the basis for the Search for Hidden Figures scholarship contest last fall, and 21CF recently partnered with AMC Theatres to host free screenings of the film in order to celebrate Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March, as well as build broader awareness of the film’s true story and inspire younger generations to follow their dreams.

Learn more about the 2017 Humanitas Prize, including the full list of this year’s winners.