Tag Archives: Variety

FILM. Jay-Z To Produce Lee Daniels’ Richard Pryor Biopic.

Variety’s Dave McNary reports…

Lee Daniels has committed to directing The Weinstein Company’s Richard Pryor biopic with Jay Z on board to produce.

The Weinstein Company had decided in May to postpone the project, titled “Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said,” after Daniels, the showrunner of Fox’s hit series “Empire,” left the helming gig when he was unable to fit the movie shoot into his schedule. A start date is now set for early 2017.

The movie’s cast had been previously announced as Mike Epps as Pryor, Oprah Winfrey as his grandmother, and Kate Hudson as Pryor’s widow Jennifer Lee Pryor.

The script has been written by Bill Condon. The title of the movie is taken from Pyror’s Grammy-winning live album, released in 1975.


FILM. Variety To Host First Conference On Diversity And Inclusion In Hollywood.

Variety has been running a series of articles calling attention to the lack of diversity in Hollywood. Articles calling out issues of ageism, sexism, under-representation of people of color and women in an older white male dominated industry. Variety is going a step further, hosting its’ first-ever conference on diversity and inclusion in Hollywood.

“The conference, which is called “Inclusion,” aims to foster dialogue around various aspects of diversity including ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and aging, by engaging senior executives and talent from the creative community.

Academy Award nominee and musician Pharrell Williams and Universal Studios chairman Donna Langley will have keynote conversations with Variety editors at the conference.  “Inclusion” will also consist of a series of panels tackling issues ranging from advancing Latino entertainment to LGBTQ rights. PwC’s U.S. Board Chairman Brian Cullinan will moderate a fireside chat with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“There is no issue in Hollywood today more important and relevant than diversity and inclusion. It is Variety’s privilege and responsibility to lead an industry-wide dialogue and bring the decision makers of our community together to promote solutions to counter the lack of minority talent in film and television. This is an issue that transcends the entertainment business, and we are excited to play a role in the broader conversation,” said Michelle Sobrino-Stearns, group publisher of Variety.”

Should make for an interesting forum to have a much needed dialogue. With the Academy inviting a record 683 new class members this year, with 46% female and 41% being people of color being, things are already moving in the right direction.

FILM. ‘Moonlight’ Cast Chats With Variety At Toronto Film Fest.

The coming-of-age drama “Moonlight” is one of this years’ breakout films. The Brad Pitt executive produced film, is still going strong on the campaign trail, even with the news of Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s divorce making even bigger international headlines.

Moonlight“Director-writer Barry Jenkins, playwright Tarell McCraney, and stars Andre Holland, Mahershala Ali, Trevante Rhodes, Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Naomie Harris visited the Variety Studio presented by airbnb to discuss their movie, which played at the Toronto Film Festival.

“I find myself attracted to characters that are vulnerable in some way and I feel like all the characters in this piece are vulnerable: They’re black and brown, queer,” Holland said. “It just touches on so many things. It really resonates with me.” “

Watch the video from the Variety Studio Toronto Film Fest interview and go see the film! Enjoy!


TV. ‘WGA East, New York City Agencies Launch Diversity Initiative For TV Writers’

Variety writer Gordon Cox reports…

The Writers Guild of America East has teamed with New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and the department of Small Business Services for the Made in NY Writers Room, a fellowship program that aims to bolster the diversity of the writers in the city’s television writing staffs.

The six-month fellowship, which will accept open submissions starting Sept. 15, will accept 500 applicants for up to 12 writers (working either as individuals or as teams of two) to work one-on-one with New York-based showrunner mentors, including Beau Willimon (“House of Cards”) and Richard LaGravense (“The Divide”), who both attended a launch event for the program Thursday morning. Lee Daniels (“Empire”), Sarah Treem (“The Affair”), Julie Klausner (“Difficult People”), Julie Martin (“Law & Order: SVU”), and Brian Koppelman and David Levien (“Billions”) will also participate as mentors.

Writers will submit a pilot script for an original series, and each winner of the fellowship will work with a mentor to hone the script and establish industry connections. Regardless of whether they win, each applicant (up to the 500 cutoff) will receive written feedback from the two pros who read the script for evaluation.

The program could cost as much as $500,000 depending on the number of submissions, with all the money coming directly from city funding, according to MOME. The initiative’s organizers will work with several city organizations, including Ghetto Film School and New York Women in Film and Television, to reach out to writers whose perspectives are under-represented among TV writers. According to a WGAE study of data up through 2014, only 13% of television scribes were minority writers, while 29% were women.

“There’s two big goals here,” Willimon said at the launch event. “To get more series in production here in New York City, and to diversify the stories that we’re telling.”

The Made in NY Writers Room Program will accept applications via the WGAE website from Sept. 15 until Oct. 20, or until the program reaches its 500-submission cutoff.

FILM. ‘Hollywood Slammed As ‘Epicenter’ Of ‘Inequality’ In USC Diversity Report’  

In the article ‘Hollywood Slammed as ‘Epicenter’ of ‘Inequality’ in USC Diversity Report’ by Variety’s Brent Lang, he reports…

“Minorities, women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender characters remain the exception, not the rule, and their representation in movies falls short of population norms, according to a blistering new report by USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Calling Hollywood “the epicenter of cultural inequality,” the report’s authors found that women comprised a mere 31.4% of the 4,370 speaking or named characters in the top 100 grossing films last year despite making up more than half of the population. The study discovered that 49 of these films lacked a speaking or named Asian or Asian-American characters, 17 had no black or African American characters, 45 films failed to have characters with disabilities, and 82 lacked lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender characters.

The research hits as the movie business has been engulfed in a debate about how to better promote diverse voices. Last year’s Oscars lacked any black nominees in any major acting categories for the second year in a row and sparked a social media protest centered around the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. At the same time, actresses such as Patricia Arquette and Jennifer Lawrence have drawn attention to the pay gap between male and female performers.

“While the voices calling for change have escalated in number and volume, there is little evidence that this has transformed the movies that we see and the people hired to create them. Our reports demonstrate that the problems are pervasive and systemic,” said Dr. Stacy L. Smith, one of the study’s authors.

There were modest improvements. Namely, an 11% year-over-year jump in the number of female leads or co-lead characters. But none of the lead characters in these movies were members of the LGBT community, and the roles that women nabbed tended to be more sexualized than those of their male counterparts. In fact, women were more frequently shown in sexually provocative attire or naked than men, with 30.2% of these films featuring scenes of women in various states of undress compared to 7.7% showing men similarly outfitted.

The researchers dug into 800 films, dating back to 2007, to crunch the numbers. The lack of diversity on screen was reflected behind the camera. Female directors represented 4.1% of the filmmakers calling the shots on these movies, women of color were virtually, representing just four of the directors. Less than 6% of the directors were black and fewer than 3% were Asian.

It’s not getting much better. Last year, 81% of the directors of the top grossing films were men, and 19% were women.”

What are your thoughts?

FILM. Walt Disney Co. Commits $1 Million To UNCF Film Students.  

Variety recently reported that the Walt Disney Co. made a $1 million commitment to the United Negro College Fund to provide scholarships for students interested in pursuing careers in entertainment.

The Walt Disney Company UNCF Corporate Scholars Program will awarded scholarships to students in financial need in the fields of film, television, journalism, media production or digital media.

“Higher education is the key to a successful future, especially in an increasingly knowledge-driven economy,” says Bob Iger; Disney chairman-CEO.