2016 ACADEMY AWARDS ‘SPOTLIGHTS’ THE NEED FOR REAL JOURNALISM TO INVESTIGATE THE REASONS SO MANY PEOPLE ARE UNHAPPY WITH THE LACK OF WORK IN HOLLYWOOD
Peabody Award Winning Broadcaster Bob Jimenez, LA’s Austin Beutner (former publisher of the LA Times, & Sharon Hardee Jimenez Founder President Bring Hollywood Home and co-host LA Business Today
Monday, February 29, 2016
The complexity of so called ‘racism’ in Hollywood is a very big topic. Los Angeles Oscar broadcast 2016 focused more on allegations of racism than who won the most coveted awards in movie and film making this past year. It was a difficult night as labels – Black – White were bantered around making viewers uncomfortable and guests at the awards even less comfortable at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood.
For an activist like myself, whose career from TV news, to publicist, to foundation founder, and advocate for finding solutions to the job outsourcing that has devastated LA’s creative economy, the night was unsettling.
Speaking two weeks ago to the Inglewood NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) with actress/activist Diane Ladd (3 time Oscar nominee and the winner of the British Academy Award, the big problem is a lack of productions at the studio level (the studios once made thousands of movies each year and last year made just over 6 hundred with less than one percent directed by minorities or women.)
The political woes in California are pretty straight forward. The studios through the MPAA lobby the legislature for tax credit incentives in many states and in other countries. A whole industry has been created that presents a very challenging business model if you are a minority or woman owned production company. Tax credits are a ‘turn key’ to bring investors to films. The credits provide the stability and initial investments productions need to get their bonded status so crews can begin to work. Independent producers don’t get the tax credit incentives in California as the lawmakers keep in place a discriminatory business model that prohibits any real competition for the studios. Add to this a history in Hollywood of blacklisting, and keeping out the movies of writers and stars who make noise about these problems, and you have a very sad picture in Hollywood in 2016.
Bring Hollywood Home set about blowing the lid off of these discriminatory problems five years ago when we created the foundation in 2010. You would have thought we were trying to build a nuclear power plant in Hollywood the way the lawmakers circled around the studios to make sure there would be no new voices in this company town.
Ironically, one of the first people I met with high up in the industry to talk about the problems of lack of financing for women and minority owned productions, was the Executive Producer of the Best Picture 2016, Spotlight’s Tom Ortenberg. I knew Tom from my role as senior advisor to US Congressman Dennis Kucinich in 2004 and 2008 when he ran as a democrat for the US presidency. Tom had just successfully helped director Paul Haggis win a Best Picture Oscar for CRASH, a provocative movie about racial tensions in Los Angeles. In 2010 Tom Ortenberg told me he was focusing all of his attention on Open Roads a distribution house in Hollywood. We discussed how difficult it is to make things happen here in Tinsel Town. Seeing Open Roads and Tom Ortenberg and the cast of Spotlight win an Oscar for exposing the story of the Boston Globe journalists who went against the powerful Catholic Church to expose the sexual exploitation of children, was a reason to have faith further investigative reporting efforts will help stop the aggressive assault on our youth from human trafficking and the pornography film genre exposing children to sexual violence everyday. 90 percent of commercial porn is made here in LA according to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Pornography films have made their way onto the Internet now exposing children as young as 9 and 10 years of age, to objectification, rape,and sexual violence. The problem of rape made center stage at the 2016 Oscars when New York’s Lady Gaga sang about the phenomenon. Rape is a common theme in pornography according to The National Center on Sexual Exploitation working to expose human trafficking. The Washington DC based advocacy foundation just named a Dirty Dozen that points to the US Justice Department failure to prosecute and enforce laws upheld by the US Supreme Court on obscenity. Indeed the 88th Academy Awards boldly confronted some of the biggest issues facing our nation and the world today.
There is extraordinary talent in Hollywood. The major studios have created an industry that is the envy of the world. But, it’s time to grow the industry for everyone’s benefit. As the population of the world has exploded so should independently owned and led production companies. Minorities and women, Black, White, Asian, Latino, and others should all have a chance to build upon the great legacies of the Hollywood Studios. Expanding the California Tax Credit incentives and/or creating a public private film fund big enough to seriously impact the number of productions hiring in the state would go along in healing the wounds that afflicted us last night. If you were anything like me you hung your head last night, and woke up today with a new resolve to Bring Hollywood Home.
Sharon Hardee Jimenez, President Founder Bring Hollywood Home Foundation email@example.com