Tag Archives: TV

Minorities Report

By Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – America is a nation of immigrants. When you walk down the streets of Los Angeles or New York, for example, you see a mixture of Hispanics and Latinos, Asians, African-Americans, and Europeans blending in with the White Americans. Yet, our television screens do not reflect this mixture.

The millions of minorities that are so visible on our streets and in shopping malls, in our offices and health care centers, are quite invisible on TV. Most of the time, minorities are portrayed as the “bad guys”, or given secondary roles in poorly-paid professions, or “mere props” in the background.

The US organization, Children Now, came up with a 1998 study entitled A Different World: Children’s Perceptions of Race and Class in Media which supports this sad fact. Their research found that because of what they see on TV, children associate white characters with various attributes: having lots of money, being well educated, being a leader, doing well in school, and being intelligent. Conversely, they associate minority characters with breaking the law, having a hard time financially, being lazy, and acting goofy.

Commissioner Michael J. Copps from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) noted this poor representation of minorities in media. In a recent media interview  organized by the Filipino American Leadership Council (FALCON), and Mabuhay Alliance, Commissioner Copps admitted that the media does not reflect the significant contributions of other ethnic groups in society.

“The way to address this problem is to help the minorities own more media companies so that they will have a voice in how their race is being reflected,” Copps said.

Another FCC Commissioner, Jonathan Adelstein, said that you don’t see enough good role models of minorities portrayed in media. “Media must be obligated to reflect the many contributions of other ethnic races to American society. It must truly reflect what America is all about. But if only the whites control and own media, minorities lose a voice,” he said.

Copps and Adelstein said that they are not in favor of media consolidation – if most media companies will be owned by one same group. “This is the enemy of diversity,” they said.

The interview with the FCC Commissioners was organized by FALCON as a result of the media disparagement of Filipino health care professionals in the TV show, Desperate Housewives. FALCON is a coalition of major Filipino American professionals, humanitarians, businesses, and socio-civic organizations in the United States which serves as an advocacy group that works to safeguard, protect, and defend the constitutional rights, honor, image, integrity and general welfare and interests of Filipino Americans in the United States.

Back in 1993, the American Screen Actors Guild (SAG) began to collect statistics on the number of ethnic and minority actors appearing in American television and films. The results were grim. The face of North American entertainment was overwhelmingly white, mostly male and young. Members of visible and ethnic minorities were significantly under-represented across the whole range of entertainment media.

Critics and advocacy groups began to pressure the industry to produce shows and films that adequately reflect the racial and ethnic diversity we find in our communities and there have been significant gains.

In its 2000 report, SAG announced a seven per cent increase in industry jobs and record numbers of roles for performers of color, with African Americans accounting for 15 per cent of all characters in television and film.  However, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) pointed out that of the four major networks’ 26 new prime-time shows for the 2000 season, none featured people of color in lead roles. The NAACP’s 2000 survey of Hollywood and Beverly Hills screen writers found that only 7 per cent of the 839 respondents were members of minority groups

Another study in 2002 by UCLA concluded that “minorities are even more under-represented in key behind-the-scenes creative and decision-making positions than they are on the [television] screen.” Many analysts are concerned that the dearth of minority executives, producers, directors and screenwriters is fuelling the tendency to ignore or misrepresent ethnic groups.

FCC said there are incentives being given to minorities who want to own media companies like tax credits and such other programs to promote diversity.

“If more minorities own media companies, then we can have diversity,” Copps said.

“You can have more models of various ethnicities in front of the camera if the one who owns the camera is of another ethnic background too, “ said Adelstein.


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FilAm TV Viewers Tune Out


by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

BURBANK – Filipino-American television viewer Jon Ibay has nothing to do on Wednesday nights now that the creators of his favorite show “Lost” walked out.

Ibay is one of thousands of Filipinos and viewers who have religiously watched ABC’s hit show ‘Lost’ every Wednesday night since it first premiered in 2004.

Like most fans, he’s anxious about the new season and its engaging story lines.

“The time between last year’s season finale to this seasons premiere was already too long,” said Ibay, a 29-year-old LA County Administrator. “Now, the season is already in jeopardy.”

Last November 2, thousands of writers from every major Network and Cable studio across Los Angeles and New York put their pencils down and formed picket lines.

Particularly, the writers of ‘Lost’ joined thousands of their colleagues in one of the largest entertainment industry strike since 1988, jeopardizing viewer ratings and literally ‘lost’ many shows seasons.

More than 60 television shows from daytime Soaps, Late-Night television, to network and cable original series were affected by the strike. Not to mention the millions of viewers at home who had tuned out or settled for re-runs of their favorite shows.

The last time the writers walked out on studios, they demanded better VHS sales. This time around, new media such as DVDs, the Internet, downloads, web streaming and web/ TV phones that have been transforming the entertainment industry became a main focal point of the strike.

“Companies are basically saying that they should not have to pay our members for our material [on the internet],” said David Weiss, the Vice President of the Writers Guild of America, west (WGAw). “TV shows like ‘Lost’ that would have gone to re-runs or syndication that would have generated money for our members are now going to the internet and companies are saying we shouldn’t get paid for that.”

“The reason that’s crucial to us is that those residual payments is the money that keeps food on the table of our members between gigs,” he added.

He said that 45 percent of their members are not working in any given year. The WGA represents more than 12,000 members.
Another hot issue is DVD sales.

“Right now, we receive about 0.3 percent of DVD sales,” said Michael Tabb, a feature film writer carrying a “Writers Guild on Strike” stake. “We’re asking for 0.6 percent. That’s about five cents for every $20 DVD customers buy.”

However, many people think that writers are paid handsomely for the little work they do.

Tabb said that is not the case.

“It takes me as long as two years to finish a script that I’m proud of or as little as three months,” he said. “People don’t understand that [feature] film writers can go months of working on a script then realize it’s wasted time because the script is not working. We try to write three scripts a year and hope that one of them sells.”

Tabb added that even if he did get paid for a script, he would need to pay his manager, agents and government taxes.

“A lot of people throw big numbers out there on how much a screenwriter gets paid for a script but in reality, those are overblown, exaggerated numbers,” he said.

Adam Horowitz, a co-producer and writer for ABC’s hit show “Lost” said he’s striving for a fair deal with the networks.

“We’re here to show our unity and focus to get that deal,” he said standing in front of the Disney Studios in Burbank. “What it boils down to is if they [the studios] get paid, we want to get paid. This is a union town. We’re not only here to fight for ourselves but we are here to fight for all the unions so that we can all be treated fairly.”

Horowitz said he does not know what’s going to happen to the remaining seasons episodes of ‘Lost.’

“Well right now, the studio is filming the seventh episode and production continues even though we will not be doing anymore writing or producing,” he said. “I imagine they’ll [the studios] finish the episodes that were done before the strike but after that no more writing until this is resolved.”

So far talks with the studios have grown stale.

“There are no backdoor negotiations at this time,” said Weiss. “We’re basically waiting for them to respond to our offers.”

Despite the lack of negotiations, the strike is gaining momentum. Most recently, Actor and Writer Steve Carell of NBC’s hit-show ‘The Office’ refused to cross the picket line and joined the protest.

Viewers are also joining the cause. Chris Cheong, a 22-year-old student at UC Irvine, said to give these writers what they are demanding.

“They need to be paid for what they are doing,” he said. “I watch ‘The Office’ all the time. It’s funny and it’s very well written.”

Tabb said he and the rest of the writers are prepared to strike for “however long it takes.”

As for Ibay, he said he probably would not watch ‘Lost’ re-runs.

“Right now, I don’t watch a lot of other shows that is affected too much by the strike. I’ll just watch sporting events.” (www.asianjournal.com)

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