Through a partnership with the National School Boards Association, New Regency, and Penguin Books, Fox Searchlight announced this week that it will distribute copies of 12 Years a Slave, winner of Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards, to public high schools around the U.S. Director Steve McQueen and television personality Montel Williams organized the initiative as a way of educating young people about the "brutal truths" of American history.
"When Hollywood is at its best, the power of the movies can be harnessed into a powerful education tool," Williams said in a press release. "This film uniquely highlights a shameful period in American history, and in doing so will evoke in students a desire to not repeat the evils of the past while inspiring them to dream of a better and brighter future."
Teachers hoping to include the film in their curricula can request an "Educator's Toolkit" by visiting 12YearsASlave.com. The toolkit contains a DVD copy of the film edited for teen audiences, with a disclaimer and parental consent forms, as well as a Penguin paperback copy of Solomon Northup's 1853 memoir on which the film was based, a detailed study guide, and a letter from McQueen.
"Solomon Northup's powerful story needs to be shared and remembered for generations to come," said McQueen. "This is a wonderful opportunity for our youth to learn about the past."
A launch event will take place on September 25 at Howard University in Washington, D.C., honoring the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. McQueen, Williams, and NSBA representative David Pickler will participate in a town hall moderated by political analyst Michelle Bernard to discuss their plans to make 12 Years A Slave and Solomon Northrup's memoir essential components of the high school history curriculum.
For more information on 12 Years a Slave's education initiatives, watch the video above and visit 12YearsASlave.com.
After its groundbreaking first season in 2012 and a successful second season earlier this year, STAR India's hit series Satyamev Jayate, or "Truth Alone Prevails," will return with new episodes on Sunday, October 5th. In addition, STAR will also premiere SMJ Live, a series of live specials in which viewers can interact with host Aamir Khan directly through social media. This initiative is the latest in STAR's effort to establish SMJ as a platform through which Indians' voices can be heard.
The series features Bollywood star Aamir Khan discussing some of the most pressing social issues facing India today, from female feticide and child sex abuse to alcoholism and political corruption. Yet, despite its sensitive subject matter, the show has become one of India's most watched programs. STAR estimates that more than 500 million Indians saw the show in its first season, and the groundswell of grassroots movements that have come about as a result have had tangible effects on Indian culture.
Since its 2012 debut, SMJ has led to several new and revised laws, both in national and local governments. Indian Parliament passed the country's first ever child protection from sexual abuse bill, and the Rajasthan high court created a fast-track court to prosecute cases of female feticide. Recently, Aamir Khan met with the newly-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the various issues he covered on SMJ, indicating that the series has become a centerpiece of the national conversation.
"There has been a significant shift in attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, and behavior," said Gayatri Yadav, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications at STAR India. "Over the last two-years, Satyamev Jayate has redefined the role of TV as a positive change agent."
The new season's tagline Mumkin Hai, or "It is possible," speaks to this emphasis on change. Sharing impacts like these is essential for STAR, and the company is launching its new digital initiative to better communicate with its audience.
Digital has long been a key component in SMJ's attempts to facilitate an ongoing dialogue with its viewers. The series' website encourages viewers to post their stories about how they have encountered these issues in their own lives, and the conversation on Twitter was so large that SMJ became the first Indian series to reach 2nd place on Twitter's top 10 global trends. Now, viewers will have the chance to use social media to interact with Aamir Khan directly through hour-long live specials that will air following each new SMJ episode.
"This was based on feedback that our viewers wish to interact and have their voices heard," Yadav said. "Digital will be a key medium for this, where people can ask questions and share their views through social media, and this will be broadcast live on STAR Plus. SMJ Live is one more step in taking the show closer to viewers and making it a people's brand."
Satyamev Jayate's new season will premiere on STAR channels in India and around the world on Sunday, October 5. The series is sponsored by Airtel and Axis Bank. Visit STAR on YouTube to watch the complete first season and SatyamevJayate.in for the second. Click here for more information on STAR, Satyamev Jayate, and SMJ Live.
On Saturday, September 13, the Fox Television Stations will debut a new two-hour block of educational programming called Xploration Station. The weekly block, created and produced by Steve Rotfeld Productions, will consist of four half-hour shows based entirely on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
The four shows include Xploration Awesome Planet, hosted by Philippe Cousteau, grandson of legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau; Xploration Outer Space, hosted by Harvard scholar and astronautics expert Emily Calandrelli; Xploration Earth 2050, which explores what the world and technology will look like in the year 2050; and Xploration Animal Science, which explores animal behavior.
"Most of the other Saturday morning stuff is sort of soft adventure and animals," said Steve Rotfeld, president of Steve Rotfeld Productions. "We thought, 'Let's try to do something that's educational but also fascinating.' We thought that STEM was a great hook for that, since there's such a huge movement to advance STEM education."
According to the US Department of Education, only 16 percent of high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a career in the STEM fields, and even among those who do purse a college major in those subjects, only about half choose to work in a related career. Frank Chica, Senior VP of Programming for Fox TV Stations, clearly sees this deficit as an opportunity to promote STEM education among young students.
"We take our kids programming very seriously and feel that Xploration Station is a rare, focused effort within the E/I world. Its emphasis on STEM education is timely, important, and should appeal to the 13-16 year old target age," Chica said.
All four series will premiere this Saturday, September 13, on local Fox stations. The episodes will also be available to watch for free on Hulu the following day. To view the trailer for Xploration Station, click the video below:
For the tenth consecutive year, FOX Broadcasting celebrated the start of the new television season with the Fall Eco-Casino Party, presented by Ford and Xfinity. Several of FOX's biggest stars appeared at the event, which was held at the Bungalow Club in Santa Monica, California, on September 8. Over the course of the evening, FOX raised $25,000 to donate to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, Heal the Bay, The Nature Conservancy, and the Environmental Media Association.
The party brought together stars from FOX's most successful returning series, such as New Girl, So You Think You Can Dance, and Family Guy, as well as newcomers from Mulaney, Gotham, and Red Band Society.
As in past years, FOX worked to minimize the event's carbon footprint by using bio-diesel-powered trucks to transport equipment, choosing LED lights over traditional incandescent bulbs, distributing invitations digitally, using casino chips made from recycled materials, purchasing local, organic, and sustainable food products, printing reusable signage, renting furniture and decor, composting all food and beverage waste, and recycling all cans, bottles, cardboard and paper used by staff and guests.
For more photos and video from the event, check out this recap from FOX 11 Los Angeles. FOX's Fall Season kicked off this week with the Sunday premiere of Utopia.
Through an innovative social media campaign promoting its new series Red Band Society, FOX has raised more than $100,000 for five major health charities, including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, Teen Cancer America, and Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
As part of the "Banding Together for Good" campaign, any time a fan shared Red Band Society photos or videos on social media between August 15 and August 22, FOX donated $1 to one of the five charities. Donations totaled more than $100,000.
FOX introduced the social media campaign on the heels of the "Banding Together for Good" summer tour. Fans in nine cities across America attended free advanced screenings of the series' first episode and interacted with the cast and executive producer during Q&A sessions. The screening tour also raised awareness of the five health charities above and the work they do to keep kids healthy.
During the tour, Red Band Society cast members visited several children's hospitals around the country to meet and spend time with the patients. The cast also visited the Daltrey/Townshend Teen and Young Adult Cancer Center in Los Angeles, on which the series' own pediatric ward is based. For more information on the tour, check out the videos below.
Red Band Society is a coming-of-age drama about the various teenaged patients at LA's Ocean Park Hospital. The show premieres on FOX on Wednesday, September 17.