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For Black Indie Documentarians, Public TV Is Still Your Best Distribution Bet + 4 Other Stories We Missed

For Black Indie Documentarians, Public TV Is Still Your Best Distribution Bet + 4 Other Stories We Missed

A few news items I bookmarked but haven’t yet mentioned on this blog that you should be aware of…

1 – A new study from American University’s Center for Media and Social Impact (CMSI) reveals that, after an audit of documentary series on commercial and public TV, the most diverse documentary series on TV are PBS’ Independent Lens and POV series. They are more diverse than both commercial series and other public TV series. But commercial TV has plenty of women and minority producers, and is ahead of most public TV shows in key diversity areas. So what does this mean for black indie filmmakers, specifically documentarians? Diverse production teams and/or stories about diverse characters, have more options these days, with their best bet being public TV. The study examined 165 documentaries that aired in either the 2014 or 2014-2105 season in the U.S., focusing on “social issue” documentaries produced by independent filmmakers. The study also asks whether, with HBO, CNN, Pivot, Netflix, Amazon and many more jockeying for documentaries today, is public TV so distinctive? Could indies with diverse perspectives and voices go elsewhere? Could viewers? For answers to all the above, read the full study here: http://www.cmsimpact.org/blog/future-public-media/diversity-independent-tv-documentaries-public-tv-d…

2 – Thanks to Steve Harvey, over the summer, game show “Family Feud” did what seemed impossible not so long ago: it overtook “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” as syndication’s top game show – something that begun to happen when Harvey took over as host in 2010. When Harvey debuted, “Feud” averaged a 2.0 in households and a 1.0 among daytime’s key demo of women 25-54, far behind “Wheel,” “Jeopardy!” and Disney-ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in households but beating Millionaire by a tenth among women 25-54. Since then, it’s been an entirely different story. “It was totally Steve Harvey,” says Mort Marcus, copresident of Debmar-Mercury, who distributes “Feud.” He adds, “The ratings kept going down until he came in. We didn’t spend any money to promote it, it was all word of mouth. As Steve got better and better, videos started to go viral.” More on that story can be found here: http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/distribution/family-feud-flying-high/145254

3 – Kenan Thompson is the new face of Fandango – the movie ticket/theater purchase website. Thompson will play a character named Miles Mouvay, an ascot-wearing mascot that Fandango hopes will help consumers see it as more than a ticket seller. Fandango unveiled the character on Monday in a multimillion-dollar campaign stretching across the web and including television, billboard and in-theater ads. The branding effort, the largest in Fandango’s 15-year history, is intended to reinforce the company’s evolution into a full-fledged entertainment hub. More here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/26/business/media/the-new-face-of-fandango-born-in-a-movie-theater.ht…

4 – The Rockefeller Foundation and the producers of the hit Broadway hip-hop musical, “Hamilton,” have agreed to finance a program to bring 20,000 New York City 11th graders, all from schools with high percentages of low-income students, to see “Hamilton” at a series of matinees beginning next spring and running through 2017. The Rockefeller Foundation president, Judith Rodin, said in an interview this week that her organization had committed $1.5 million for student tickets and for the development of a curriculum that will help students contextualize the show. More on that story here: http://www.theatermania.com/broadway/news/hamilton-ticketing-initiative-rockefeller-foundation_74735…

5 – Finally, in case you haven’t been paying attention, an unprecedented movement of student activism has been sweeping South African university campuses, culminating in a march on the historic Union Buildings that took place last Friday, October 23, the seat of the South African government. Not since the Soweto Uprising of 1976 have this many youth arisen to demand the right to quality and accessible education. Tt the heart of the protests, students demanding a 0% increase in tuition fees. Protests started earlier in October after the government said it intended to increase fees by between 10% and 12%. Thousands of students took to the streets in several towns calling for free education, arguing that increased fees would prevent poor black youths from accessing education. Protest happened online as well, with the hashtags #FeesMustFall and #NationalShutDown trending. President Zuma eventually announced on national TV a 0% increase for 2016 after meeting with student leaders and professors at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where dozens of protesters clashed with police after setting up fires near the the building. However, students at Wits rejected Zuma’s announcement and announced they would carry on with the protest demanding free education. Students, some of whom are angry at Zuma’s decision to deliver a speech on TV rather than addressing the crowd protesting outside the Union Buildings, are also demanding the indefinite postponement of their exams, scheduled for next week. They have called for the “decolonization” and “transformation” of higher education institutions, the insourcing of outsourced workers (mostly cleaning, security and support staff, often the most vulnerable workers), and the release of their classmates arrested earlier in the week. For more on the story, CNBC Africa released a documentary special report on the #FeesMustFall movement, which is embedded below:

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