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Battle of the Sexes

21st Century Fox has strengthened its partnership with the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) with the release of a free Battle of the Sexes curriculum guide for the classroom. Inspired by the true story of world tennis champion and WSF founder, Billie Jean King, the curriculum offers materials for teachers to guide their students through discussions on sexism, LGBT rights, inclusion, and the landmark Title IX legislation, as well as handouts and activities to supplement key themes. Along with the curriculum’s release, 21CF is also making DVD copies of Fox Searchlight’s Battle of the Sexes available free of charge to educators in high school and college classrooms across the United States.

Battle of the Sexes tells the story of the historic 1973 tennis match between King and former men’s world champion, Bobby Riggs, played by Emma Stone and Steve Carrell. One of the most watched sporting events of all time, the match represented a convergence of the social and cultural issues underway, including LGBT acceptance and the fight for equal pay between men and women. King rose to enduring prominence not just for her unrivaled tennis skills, but also her relentless advocacy for female and LGBT athletes. “I knew this match was about social change. It wasn't [just] about tennis,” she said in a recent interview. “All I wanted was to get the essence of the fight for equality and what we were going through on all fronts… We need equal pay for equal work.” After the Battle of the Sexes match, she founded the Women’s Sports Foundation, and has led the organization in awarding over $50 million in educational and financial grants to advance participation, research, and leadership of girls and women in sports.

21st Century Fox helped fund the creation and distribution of the curriculum guide by donating 79 cents to WSF from every ticket sold during the film’s September 2017 opening weekend—drawing symbolic attention to the 79 cents that women in the United States earn for every dollar paid to men for the same work. A portion of the donation also went to a special edition of WSF’s Travel and Training Fund, which provides financial support to promising female athletes who could not otherwise afford coaching, equipment, and necessary travel.

The film campaign continues a long running relationship between 21st Century Fox and the Women’s Sports Foundation to help ensure equal access to sports. Since 2014, 21CF businesses have collectively donated over $1 million to WSF, and 21CF, FOX Sports, and Fox Networks Group regularly support WSF's Annual Salute to Women in Sports, a gala recognizing the world's top female athletes.

High school and college teachers in the US can download the Battle of the Sexes curriculum and request a free DVD to screen the movie for students at www.foxconnect.com/battleofthesexes.

Battle of the Sexes is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and Digital HD.

Learn more about the Women’s Sports Foundation, including their research into how sports programs benefit young girls, their grant and scholarship programs, and more.


The National Geographic Society recently approved more than $4 million for 111 grants, further strengthening the 21CF partner’s commitment to investing in science, exploration, conservation, storytelling, education, and technology. These awards complete the annual grants cycle, with over 600 grants totaling nearly $12 million awarded in 2017 to help address the planet’s most critical issues in fighting for a healthier, more sustainable future for all.

“This week’s decision by the National Geographic Society leadership demonstrates a historic and continued commitment to understanding the world and all that’s in it. The significance of Society funding cannot be overstated. We’re making substantial investments to support all those striving to achieve a planet in balance,” said Gary E. Knell, president and CEO, National Geographic Society.

Applicants came from the widest range of disciplines and backgrounds yet, including technologists, educators, and storytellers, in addition to scientists, conservationists, and explorers. Over half of the grant awardees are from outside the United States and represent 34 countries, from Argentina to Italy to Rwanda to Indonesia. Grant recipients will employ citizen science to collect data about widespread mangrove die-off in the Caribbean; test innovations to combat illegal sea turtle egg trafficking, coastline degradation and poaching; and build and test long-range, private wireless networks to strengthen the capacity of rangers and managers in protected areas from Malaysia, Burkina Faso, Niger and Benin.

“Our grant recipients are — and have always been — the heart and soul of what we do. When we award a grant, we’re not just funding a project. We are also inviting bold individuals from a variety of fields to join a passionate community of like-minded global leaders,” said Jonathan Baillie, chief scientist and senior vice president, Science and Exploration, National Geographic Society.

For nearly 130 years, the National Geographic Society has been pushing boundaries to explore and document the world, supporting over 13,000 grant projects along the way. In September 2015, 21st Century Fox expanded its partnership with the Society to create National Geographic Partners, a new for-profit venture bringing together all of National Geographic's media assets, including the channels, the globally circulated magazine, and the popular social media presences. At the new company, 27% of all proceeds return to the non-profit National Geographic Society, supporting their commitment to science, research, conservation and exploration.


The southern African cheetah

On December 10, Nat Geo WILD kicked off its eighth annual Big Cat Week with a week-long programming lineup of stunning and touching specials documenting the lives and plights of big cats around the world. Big Cat Week is an extension of the Big Cats Initiative (BCI), a long-term commitment from National Geographic Society to protect and tell the stories of the planet’s fiercest felines—lions, tigers, jaguars, panthers, leopards and more.

On December 11, researchers with the BCI also released a new study in the open access, peer-reviewed scientific journal, PeerJ, chronicling updated numbers of the cheetah population in southern Africa. The team of 17 conservationists estimate that there are approximately 3,500 adult cheetahs in the region, with a buffer area potentially supporting an optimistic couple of thousand more. In 1975, the same area counted 15,000 cheetahs. The group has come together to demand that the International Union for Conservation of Nature list the cheetah as endangered. "This collaborative, multiyear effort sounds the alarm about the state of cheetah populations in southern Africa, shining a light on the imperative need to protect these majestic predators," said Gary E. Knell, President and CEO, National Geographic Society. "The National Geographic Society is proud to support such a comprehensive assessment and similar efforts aimed at safeguarding our most precious species, their habitats and the planet we call home."

In addition to cheetahs disappearing from over 75% of their historic range, the African lion population has declined 90% in the last 75 years, and fewer than 4,000 tigers remain in the wild. Big cats worldwide are under threat, with local extinctions imminent due to habitat loss, poaching, and conflicts with rural farmers. National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative, founded in 2009 with Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert, supports scientists and conservationists working to save and protect big cats in the wild. By partnering with some of the world’s leading big cat experts and researchers, the initiative funds on-the-ground research to understand these species better, and innovative community conservation projects to help both animals and the people around them thrive.

BigCat

To date, the BCI has supported over 100 unique projects to protect seven iconic big cat species across 27 countries. Enabled by BCI funding, Nat Geo researchers and conservationists have built over 1,600  livestock enclosures to keep livestock, cats, and people from harm; the BCI has saved an estimated 2,600 big cats from death since 2010. Through special campaigns such as Big Cat Week and conservation in the classroom, National Geographic Society and BCI can continue their protection efforts with regular assessment, on-the-ground safeguarding, community education, and global public-awareness movements.

Big Cat Week includes the premiere of exciting new programs featuring world-renowned storytellers. Follow along as Nat Geo photographers Steve Winter and Bertie Gregory track and collect footage of the rarely seen Brazilian jaguars in ‘Jaguar vs. Croc’, famed wildlife filmmaker Bob Poole tells the intimate story of a cheetah mother and her cubs in ‘Man Among Cheetah’, and the secrets of a legendary tigress that famously reigned over western India are revealed in ‘The World’s Most Famous Tiger’. Big Cat Week takes place globally in 140 countries and 37 languages. For more information, on the Big Cats Initiative and how you can get involved, visit causeanuproar.org.


Fox Solar Panels Sustainability

In its latest analysis of US companies’ action on climate change, the nonprofit CDP recognized 21st Century Fox as a national leader in environmental sustainability. The annual report evaluates the strength and effectiveness of corporate sustainability efforts, and this year, it awarded 21CF an overall performance score of A-, a higher score than any of its media peers.

The honor arrives as 21CF celebrates the 10-year anniversary of launching its corporate sustainability program, committing to addressing its environmental impacts and inspiring its global audience to take action. Over the last decade, the company has greened its own operations, told compelling stories about the natural world that reach a global audience, and become a prominent voice in crafting environmental best practices for the entire entertainment industry. 21CF has disclosed its emissions and carbon reduction strategy with CDP since 2006 and been among the leading companies in CDPs annual rankings since 2009.

CDP is the world’s largest clearinghouse for companies’ carbon footprint data and environmental management strategies. This year, 462 companies, including 70% of the S&P 500, reported this information to CDP, which represents $100 trillion in assets from 803 institutional investors. Companies complete an annual questionnaire that addresses total energy use and carbon emissions across their operations, as well as strategy and governance in assessing and managing risks and opportunities from climate change.

CDP evaluates the responses to the questionnaire and awards each company an overall score in the form of a letter grade. The grade represents the company’s performance in four tiered categories: Disclosure, Awareness, Management, and Leadership, which recognizes the steps a company takes that represent best practice. 21CF’s A- score places it in the Leadership category, the highest of the four levels.

“While policymakers dally, businesses, investors and cities are getting to work,” said Lance Pierce, President of CDP North America. “From the backrooms at climate negotiations to the boardrooms of America’s companies, the US is keeping climate action at the top of the agenda.”

Learn more about sustainability at 21CF, including recent efforts to green the set of Legion and empower new voices to create their own solutions to climate change.


Twentieth Century Fox Television - Fox Directors Lab

In its annual report on the ethnic and gender diversity of the television industry, the Directors Guild of America in November identified Twentieth Century Fox Television as the industry leader in hiring diverse voices behind the camera. The DGA Episodic TV Director Diversity Report found that women and minorities helmed 45% of the studio’s 553 episodes of television produced during the 2016-2017 season, including episodes of shows such as Empire, The Americans, This Is Us, and many more.

“I have to credit the Current team who feel personally responsible for giving more opportunities to female and diverse directors,” said Carolyn Cassidy, SVP and Head of Current Programming at TCFTV, about the report. “We’re always looking for new voices behind the camera. With the help of our production department we educate ourselves on new diverse and female directors and aim to integrate them into the pipeline at 20th. Some of our finds this season have really elevated episodes of Empire, The Exorcist and Fresh Off the Boat, to name a few. Giving these directors more chances to succeed with us is a real priority.”

Changing the Face of the TV Industry

In addition to leading the industry overall, TCFTV also hired more people of color to direct television than any other studio, with 23.3% of its episodes directed by ethnic minorities. The company was second only to Amazon at hiring women directors, with 28.9% to Amazon’s 33.5%. These figures combined to make the overall 45%. The DGA also concluded that diverse hiring increased across the industry this year to a record 22%, making 2016-2017 the most inclusive production season ever.    

21st Century Fox is committed to supporting and developing the next generation of storytellers through programs that nurture their creativity and create a strong pipeline of diverse talent to the entertainment industry. The Fox Directors Lab (FDL), for example, was launched in 2014 to increase the number of women and minority directors working in Hollywood. The program annually recruits up-and-coming directors for an intensive three-week course that includes mentorship from directors, showrunners, and executives. Participants from past years have gone on to direct episodes of American Horror Story, You’re the Worst, Snowfall, Empire, Scream Queens, and more.

Studio executives at TCFTV not only shepherd the talent that participate in programs like FDL but also take active roles in shaping the conversation about diversity in Hollywood at large. Dana Sharpless, SVP, Current Programming at TCFTV, Reena Singh, VP, Current Series at TCFTV, and Jonathan Frank, EVP, Current Programming at FX all participated in this year’s DGA Directors Development Initiative, speaking on panels and serving as mentors to young directors. Ann Calfas, EVP of Labor Relations, now serves as Co-Chair of the DGA-Producers Joint Diversity Action Committee, an industry-wide body that meets several times per year to determine the best ways to support directors with diverse voices and backgrounds at the studio level.

Championing Screenwriters and Filmmakers

Twentieth Century Fox undertakes similar efforts to increase diversity behind the camera on its film projects. This year, the studio announced it would partner with the American Film Institute on the Fox Filmmakers Lab. The program gives alumni of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women exclusive access to the studio’s production, creative, and marketing executives.  This past spring, the filmmakers pitched original ideas for a short film based on a Fox franchise or reboot to key creative executives.  In November, 21CF Global Inclusion hosted a breakfast to honor the inaugural class of 25 female filmmakers.

The group also operates the Fox Writers Lab, a fellowship program that spans film, TV, and digital storytelling. Finalists spend 14 weeks on the Fox Lot meeting the company’s creative executives, receiving feedback on their scripts, attending master classes with writers and directors, and hearing from some of the industry’s most experienced figures through guest speaker sessions. At the conclusion of the program, the participants receive staffing meetings for current Fox series and one fellow will receive a first-look development deal to option their original scripts. Many have gone on to write for Fox series such as Lucifer and Star.

Learn more about 21CF’s company-wide diversity efforts, including its suite of programs to support women and minority directors. The 21CF Global Inclusion team is currently working to launch the 2018 edition of the Fox Directors Lab, submissions for which will open in the spring.