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DGA Says No Progress in Hiring Women, Minority Directors on TV

The

Directors Guild of America

released a report on the employment of women and minority directors by television networks on the “top forty” prime time drama and comedy series for the past three television seasons. The report shows that for the third year in a row, Caucasian males directed more than 80 percent of episodes, and that women and minority directors continue to be missing from some of the best-known series line-ups. The report reveals that in the most recent 2002-2003 season, 13 of the top forty shows have not hired minority directors, 10 have not hired women directors and 3 have excluded both women and minority directors.

“The report reveals that once again the producers and the networks have failed to fulfill their contractual good faith obligation to hire more women and minority directors,” said DGA President Martha Coolidge. “Although for many years we have challenged the industry to open up employment opportunities for women and minorities, and last year made explicit the hiring records of the top forty shows, it is clear from this report that the producers’ and the networks’ commitment to diversity is not reflected in their hiring of directors.”

This is the third season in a row the Guild has tracked the hiring records of the top forty prime time drama and comedy television series. The most recent report shows that of the 860 total episodes studied in 2002-2003, Caucasian males directed 705 (82%); women directed 92 (11%); African Americans, 43 (5%); Latinos, 14 (2%); and Asian Americans directed 8 episodes (1%). The statistics are virtually unchanged from the past two years.

The single exception is in the hiring of African American directors, which has increased from 3% (2000-01 season) to 5% (in the most recent 2002-03 season) of total episodes directed. The following are some of the most egregious examples of the exclusion of women and minority directors in the 2002 – 2003 season:

— Three of the top forty prime time series hired no women or minority directors in the 2002-03 season: “CSI:Miami” (CBS/CBS Broadcasting); “Yes, Dear” (CBS/20th Century Fox Film); and “24” (FOX/20th Century Fox Film)

— Thirteen of the top forty prime time series hired no minority directors in the 2002-03 season: “CSI:Miami”; “Yes, Dear”; “24”; “Eight Simple Rules”; “Good Morning Miami”; “My Big Fat Greek Life”; “Judging Amy”; “NYPD Blue”; “Malcolm in the Middle”; “Becker”; “Providence”; “Hidden Hills”; and “According to Jim”

— Ten of the top forty hired no women directors in the 2002-03 season: “CSI:Miami”; “Yes, Dear”; “24”; “CSI”; “Friends”; “JAG”; “King of Queens”; “My Wife and Kids”; “Boomtown”; and “Everybody Loves Raymond” (“Will & Grace”, “Still Standing” and “That 70’s Show” had only one director for the entire series and were not singled out in this report.)

The following shows have demonstrated a three-year pattern of zero or token efforts in hiring women and/or minority directors:

— “Everybody Loves Raymond” (CBS/Talk Productions) has not hired a woman director for any of its 73 episodes over the past three seasons. The show hired minorities to direct 3 out of 73 episodes in the past three seasons.

— “Friends” (NBC/Warner Bros.) has not hired a woman director for any of the 73 episodes of the past three seasons. The show hired one minority director to direct 3 of 73 episodes in the past three seasons.

— “JAG” (CBS/Paramount Pictures Corp.) has not hired a woman director for any of 73 episodes in the past three seasons. The show hired minority directors for 4 out of 73 episodes in the past three seasons.

— “King of Queens” (CBS/MontroseProductions Inc.) has not hired a woman to direct any of its 72 episodes of the past three seasons. The show hired minorities to direct 4 of 72 episodes over the past three seasons.

— “CSI” (CBS/CBS Broadcasting) has hired one woman to direct one of 69 episodes in the past three seasons, and no women have been hired in the most recent 2002-03 season. The show hired minorities to direct only 2 of 69 episodes in the past three seasons.

— “Malcolm in the Middle” (FOX/Regency TV Productions) has not hired a minority director for any of its 69 episodes over the past three seasons. The show hired women to direct 3 of its 69 episodes over the past three seasons.

— Although “Judging Amy” (CBS/20th Century Fox Film) has been proactive in hiring women directors (17 of 73 episodes), the show has not hired a minority director in the past three seasons.

— Although “My Wife and Kids” (ABC/Touchstone TV Prod.) has been proactive in hiring minority directors (16 of 73 episodes), the show has not hired a woman director in the past three seasons.

Unfortunately, two newer shows are following in the footsteps of these veteran shows:

— “According to Jim” (ABC/Touchstone TV Prod.) has not hired a single minority director and has hired only one female director for its 47 episodes over the past two seasons.

— “Yes, Dear” (CBS/20th Century Fox Film) has not hired a woman to direct any of its 48 episodes over the past two seasons, and has hired minorities to direct only 2 out of 48 episodes, neither of which was in the most recent 2002-03 season.

While employment opportunities for women and minorities on these top forty prime time television series were dismal overall, there were three series that defied the networks’ trends for the past three seasons:

— “Third Watch”: (NBC/Warner Bros.) hired women and minorities to direct 32 out of 73 total episodes (44%) over the past three seasons.

— “Frasier”: (NBC/Paramount) hired women and minorities to direct 26 out of 67 total episodes (39%) over the past three seasons.

— “ER”: (NBC/Warner Bros.) hired women and minorities to direct 16 out of 62 total episodes (26%) over the past three seasons.

One newer show has shown exemplary effort in its director hiring record over the past two seasons:

— “The Bernie Mac Show”: (FOX/Regency Productions) hired women and minorities to direct 32 out of 47 total episodes (68%) over the past two seasons.

“The DGA and its African American, Asian, Latino and Women’s Committees have held countless meetings with producers, networks and studio representatives, conducted nine Networking Mixers in 2002 to introduce women and minority directors to key showrunners in order to develop new relationships, and have created extensive women and minority director contact lists to counter the argument that quality women and minority directors are difficult to find. With few exceptions, these efforts have not translated into action by the producers and the networks,” said Coolidge. “We challenge the industry, yet again, to demonstrate a real commitment to diversity by making a good faith effort by hiring, not making empty promises.”

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