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DGA gives TV producers failing grade on hiring women, minorities

September 14, 2011 | 12:16 pm

Further evidence has emerged that Hollywood has made little progress in hiring women and minorities to work on prime-time television shows.

A survey conducted by the Directors Guild of America of more than 2,600 television episodes from 170 scripted TV series for the 2010-11 season found that white males directed 77% of all episodes, and white females directed 11% of all episodes. Minority males directed 11% all episodes and minority females directed just 1% of the shows, according to the survey of programs from the major broadcast and cable networks.

The directors guild, which over the years has prodded production companies to establish diversity programs and improve hiring practices, expressed disappointment with the findings, noting that the results show little change from a similar survey in the 2009-2010 television season.

The guild singled out nine shows that hired no women or minority directors for the 2010-2011 season, including HBO's "Bored to Death," Showtime's "Weeds" and FX's "Justified." Sixteen other shows hired women and minorities for fewer than 15% of episodes. Those include Fox's "House" (produced by NBC) and Lifetime's "Army Wives" (produced by ABC).

"It's not enough to just give lip service to the idea of increasing diversity behind the camera,'' said Paris Barclay, the DGA's first vice president and co-chair of its diversity task force. "These programs are so far failing to live up to their promise. So we're going to take the discussion straight to the people on each show who make hiring decisions," added Barclay, an executive producer for the FX show "Sons of Anarchy."

The DGA negotiated a new provision in its most recent contracts, which took effect July 1, that allows union officials to meet directly with executives responsible for hiring at the individual show level.

"We are encouraging shows, production companies and networks, when they weigh in, to offer opportunities to up-and-coming directors from all backgrounds,'' said Lesli Linka Glatter, co-chair of the DGA diversity task force and co-executive producer of "The Playboy Club."

The DGA's findings echo those of other recent surveys, including a recent report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. The report found during the 2010 season women composed 15% of writers for prime-time dramas, comedies and reality shows on the broadcast networks, down 29% from the 2009-2010 season. Among directors, 11% were women, compared with 16% the previous year.

A report released by the Writers Guild of America, West in May found that  the earnings gap between minorities and white writers more than doubled since 2007. The minority share of employment in feature films declined to the lowest level in a decade, falling to 5% from 6% in 2007.


Number of women working in TV falls

WGA report: Minority and women writers make few strides in Hollywood

Screen Actors Guild takes big step toward merging with AFTRA

-- Richard Verrier 

Photo: HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" starring Larry David and Jeff Garlin was among nine shows that hired no women and minority directors in the most recent TV season, according to a report by the DGA. Credit: HBO/Doug Hyun.