A week doesn’t go by without controversy in the industry. From discrimination against actress Salma Hayek to film producers forming a union, here are some of the biggest productions industry news stories of the week.
The film industry might seem glamorous, but behind the scenes, producers struggle to make a living.
The Wrap reported that a group of 108 Hollywood feature film producers announced on May 20 they are forming a Producers’ Union to organize for better wages and working conditions from studios, networks, and streaming giants. The new group said that producers need a collective to bargain as nearly half are unable to make a living from their work.
Rebecca Green, whose producing credits include the 2013 horror film It Follows was announced as the first president, with other officers including Vice Presidents Effie T. Brown (Dear White People) and Monique Walton (Bull), Secretary Avril Z. Speaks (Hosea), and Treasurer Chris Moore (Manchester by the Sea).
Rebecca Green shared her insights with The Wrap:
In a recent Dear Producer survey, we found that more than 44% of producers in the U.S. — almost half — weren’t able to make a living from producing in 2020. That is beyond unacceptable and unsustainable given the time and energy producers give to each project. And that percentage represents experienced producers, many of whom had films debut at major festivals or had success at the box office. The survey showed that even before the pandemic, producers could not support themselves on their producing income alone.
It’s about time to form a union.
Discrimination is alive and well in Hollywood.
Salma Hayek disclosed in a new Variety cover story that two directors informed her she wasn’t getting a job on their movies because she is a Mexican actress, despite both filmmakers admitting she was the best actress for those roles.
“I remember there were two big comedies I auditioned for the lead. Afterwards, the directors told me that I was the best audition and that I was better than who they cast and that they regretted it. But at the time, they knew the studios wouldn’t have gone for a Mexican as the lead,” Hayek said.
The actress didn’t reveal which two comedies were being discussed, but she added: “I got a lot of satisfaction with them coming to me and telling me because I thought it was very courageous of them. And I thought it changed something. It changed something in them. It made [me think that] maybe the next generation or the next girl that comes in was going to get a better shot because of it.”
The ghosts of the past are haunting the BBC.
Deadline reported that an independent inquiry into the scheme used by the BBC to secure an explosive 1995 interview with Princess Diana has concluded that journalist Martin Bashir “deceived” his way to approaching the Princess of Wales and that the BBC’s response was ineffective.
The BBC has apologized after the findings of the former Supreme Court judge Lord Dyson were published on May 20, following the six-month investigation that cost the UK broadcaster around $2 million dollars.
In Dyson’s 127-page report, he concluded that Bashir “commissioned fake bank statements” that helped him secure access to Princess Diana through her brother, Charles Spencer. Bashir wrote that Dyson “deceived and induced him [Spencer] to arrange a meeting with Princess Diana” during which he persuaded her to take part in the 1995 Panorama interview. “This behavior was in serious breach of the 1993 edition of the BBC’s Producer Guidelines on straight dealing,” Dyson said.
BBC Director-General Tim Davie said: “Although the report states that Diana, Princess of Wales, was keen on the idea of an interview with the BBC, it is clear that the process for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect. We are very sorry for this. While today’s BBC has significantly better processes and procedures, those that existed at the time should have prevented the interview being secured in this way. The BBC should have made greater effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time and been more transparent about what it knew.”
In a statement, Bashir who recently left BBC for health reasons, acknowledged his error of judgment. “This is the second time that I have willingly fully cooperated with an investigation into events more than 25 years ago. I apologized then, and I do so again now, over the fact that I asked for bank statements to be mocked up. It was a stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret. But I absolutely stand by the evidence I gave a quarter of a century ago, and again more recently,” he said.
The BBC announced that it will return a BAFTA it won in 1996 for its explosive Panorama interview with Princess Diana.
The BBC’s Producer Guidelines might have improved since then, but the broadcaster and the media industry overall should continue striving for the best ethical practices possible. After all, trust in news is continuing to decline.
According to Deadline, producer Michael Shamberg’s lawsuit against the Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences and its governing board will go forward, as decided by the Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge H. Jay Ford.
Shamberg has been asking the court to rule in his favor regarding a vote on his proposals to amend the Academy’s bylaws in order to require an annual membership survey and implementation of a social media program aimed at saving the Oscars. The Academy said that he was entitled to propose the changes, but that he wasn’t allowed to vote.
Lawyer Kristen Bird, in arguing for the Academy, said that if Shamberg were allowed to vote, then any of the Academy’s 9,000-plus members would also be entitled to do so. Meanwhile, Matthew Learned, who represents Shamberg, said the Academy could end the case simply by holding a vote on Shamberg’s proposals. “Just vote no, and our claims are moot,” he said.
We are curious to see how this case unfolds.
Variety and Sony Pictures will host a month-long immersive experience called Virtual FYC House, aimed to capture the attention of TV awards voters. The 3D experience will begin with a special preview night for a select audience and will open to a wider public on May 27 through June 28.
The event features original content, keynote speakers, and panels with top talent from the studio. Registration provides users with a month-long VIP pass to visit the virtual house.
Programming begins with the “Actors Showcase” panel featuring David Lim (Victor Tan in “S.W.A.T.”); Deborah Ayorinde (Lucky Emory in “Them”); Hill Harper (Dr. Marcus Andrews in “The Good Doctor”); Krys Marshall (Danielle Poole in “For All Mankind”); Lamorne Morris (Keef in “Woke”); and Laz Alonso (Mother’s Milk in “The Boys”).
Next up is the “Women in TV” panel with Alison Pill (Betty Wendell in “Them”); Annette Sahakian Davis, executive producer of “The Goldbergs”; Erin Gunn, executive producer of “The Good Doctor”; Joy Bryant (Marie Wallace in “For Life”); Sonay Hoffman, executive producer/writer for “For Life”; and Yun Lingner, executive producer for “Shark Tank.”
The “Bringing the Universe to Life” panel features “Cobra Kai” casting directors Alexis Koczara and Christine Shevchenko; Austen Brewer, stunt coordinator for “S.W.A.T.”; Howard Berger, department head of make-up for “Them”; Jill Ohanneson, costume designer for “For All Mankind”; and Tig Fong, stunt coordinator for “The Boys.”
Registration is required for access: https://variety.com/SONYFYCHouse
Interested in seeing what next week brings to the industry? Sign up for our weekly newsletter and the latest production jobs!