In case you didn’t get the news, it was reported last Friday in Variety that the decode long class action lawsuit of tv writers against the television networks and talent agencies was settled. Here is a link to the article: www.variety.com/article/VR1118014185.html?categoryId=14&cs=1&nid=2854
The suit was because some writers claimed there was “systematic age discrimination by talent agents who aided and abettednetworks and studios by refusing to represent and refer older writersfor work at the studios.” I do not know all the facts of the case but I do not think there was any “industry reports or research” to support their cause – probably the fact that there were not that many show or programs that featured characters over the age of 40 – which was the age discrimination age group of 40+ so I wonder what a class action suit against these same agencies and tv networks would say if there were a disAbility discrimination class action lawsuit against them – especially when there is a industry reprot, commissioned and published by SAG in 2005, conducted by UCLA researchers that showed this industry is incredibly discriminatory against those with a disAbility?
I warned about this in a blog entry or two over the years – that IF they don’t listen to us, listen to me who not only knows the issues, but also have the solution ready for production, then what would be the next logic step? Lawsuits against them directly – and if they disn’t change the “system” to be more inclusive then maybe legislation and suddenly there is an “affirmative action” imposed on Hollywood to include those of us with a disAbility! Well now there is a legal precedent – so Hollywood – are we going to play? Softball or hardball? Its your field, you tell me? Either way, I’m game, and I am the star pitcher that will strike you out on every batter (issue) you bring to the plate! Its all clear, like the white elephant in the room, and someone is going to call you on it and when they do – count on a big smile on my face! Especially if I am the one directing them on call you out!
Do we need a check list?
Your so-called “Diversity Programs” that rarely if ever include a category for those with a disAbility and when they do they are only some minor outreach program that looks like your helping. If you did – where are the movies and television programs that feature those with a disAbility? Oh, yeah “Glee” and “Avatar” and yet the writers, directors, and actors who portray those characters are ALL able bodied. Hmmmmm, and after 3 years of trying to contact Mr. James Cameron for a little recognition and ask a couple of questions, might like to finally answer them in court that he never even auditioned any actors who were paraplegics for his paraplegic character – oh and he cannot use the excuse that he needed a A-List actor to attract audiences to his movie (as Hollywood loves that excuse) because he hired a no-named actor for the role.
Lets ask each TV network and Hollywood studio – how many people with a disAbility do you have or have you hired for creative roles – as writers, directors, actors who can provide the authentic voices, visions, performances of those with a disAbility? Where are our voices, our heroes?
I tell you what – I would much prefer to “settle” this issue before it becomes a lawsuit, before it becomes legislation, let’s settle with accepting my film “London Time” with the same production and distribution support you’d give any other worthy indie film! And when “London Time” becomes a mega-hit – which I know it will because of the movie elements that I have included go way beyond the authentic representation element then I will settle – with all those who supported me in the film and we will all smile as we travel in the car pool lane to the bank with our trash bags full of money! I would prefer that money, then YOUR money in the settlement! But again – this is your home field – how do you want to play it?
We will SOON see! Meanwhile I will continue with fund raising for the production of “London Time”! You have my number! I have been contacting many of you the past 5 years so you might want to ask your assistant who blew me off! I have a database with over 100 contacts – all with the documented times, types, and content of communications with you. Or attempted communications with you.
Your Honor, I would like to submit this database as exhibit A. The SAG report as Exhibit B, and the law suit settlement of the tv writers in the age discrimination as Exhibit C! Employment records of the Studios and networks for the past 5-10 years as Exhibit D! The charter and program outlines for the studios and networks Diversity Programs as Exhibit E! The results of how many films were written, directed, acted by those with a disAbility as Exhibit F! Statistic of those with a disAbility being the largest and fastest growing minority in America as Exhibit G!And then I would like to call actors with a disAbility who have been on auditions by the hundreds and never get cast in any roles – even those specifically written as characters with the same or similar disAbility to the stand!
WE are not going to continue to lose this battle in Hollywood! So again, how do you want to play this? My film? Or in the courts? And then to the Supreme Courts and have affirmative action for those with a disAbility to have fair and equal representation in the creative roles in motion pictures and television? Your home field. Let’s play!