At a panel discussion on the Fox Studios Lot in Los Angeles last week, Fox talent and executives came together with senior leadership from GLAAD for a candid conversation about the representations of the LGBT community in the media. The panel was organized by GLAAD and FOX Audience Strategy, a cross-divisional group promoting diverse voices throughout 21st Century Fox entertainment businesses.
Hernan Lopez, FOX International Channels President and a GLAAD Board Member, spoke briefly before introducing GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. Ellis spoke about the great strides in LGBT representation on television that FOX has made in recent years. In fact, in the Network Responsibility Index that GLAAD released last year, FOX out-performed all other broadcast networks, with 42% of its primetime programming being LGBT-inclusive.
Ellis also participated in the panel discussion that included Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett from the upcoming FOX series Empire, executive producer Margaret Nagle and actor/GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz from the upcoming Red Band Society, Glee and American Horror Story producer Dante Di Lorento, and advocate and former NFL player Wade Davis from the You Can Play Project, one of GLAAD's partner organizations. The panel was moderated by FOX COO Joe Earley.
The talk was the latest installment of FOX Audience Strategy's "Images: The Power to Inform, Influence, and Inspire" speaker series, designed to explore and highlight cultural trends, current events, and the people who are shifting perceptions and spurring creative innovation. The mandate to discuss images' power to influence was not lost on the panel, the members of which spoke at length about the importance of empowering younger members of the LGBT community.
"Kids can now turn on their TV and be like, 'Wow, I can be that,'" Davis said. "You can never become what you don't see."
For more information on the event, visit FOX Audience Strategy's official website.
20th Century Fox has partnered with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to help raise awareness around the issues facing the Amazon rainforest. Fox and WWF have developed a PSA featuring the characters from Rio 2, the latest animated feature from Fox's Blue Sky Studios, which features a family of Spix's macaws trying to save the rainforest from deforestation.
In addition to developing the PSA, Fox is donating $100,000 to WWF to support the organization's Amazon conservation efforts, which they have conducted for more than 40 years. WWF's work helps preserve the wildlife population from illegal poaching and establishes networks of protected tropical forest to combat deforestation.
The PSA will also be featured on all Rio 2 DVDs and Blu-Rays, which arrive in stores on July 15.
Director Carlos Saldanha has spoken openly about the environmental message of the Rio franchise, telling Bird Channel in 2011: "In countries like Brazil, you hear about hundreds of birds being taken every day, about how law enforcement found the traffickers with birds. I find it very sad, and I want people to know this. Also, by growing awareness, we can really make sure we work to preserve the birds in the wild and stop cases of extinction."
To join WWF in protecting the rainforest, visit the campaign's official website, or you can text MACAW to 20222 to donate $10.
21st Century Fox served as the Founding Partner of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games, which came to a close on Friday, June 20. Nearly 3,500 athletes competed in 16 Olympic-style games, which were hosted at several venues throughout New Jersey. In addition, more than 1,000 coaches, 10,000 volunteers and an estimated 70,000 spectators attended the events to lend their support.
21st Century Fox announced its partnership with the 2014 Games last November, promising broad exposure for the Special Olympics across its U.S. channels, including FOX Broadcasting, FOX Sports, FOX News Channel, FOX Business Network, FX, National Geographic Channel, and 28 local stations, as well as FOX Sports 1, which is currently airing a one-hour recap special on the Games and streaming it on FOX Sports Go.
21st Century Fox talent and employees seized the opportunity to support the cause. Glee star Jane Lynch performed at the Opening Ceremony on June 15, where FOX News anchor Andrea Tantaros co-hosted the Parade of Athletes in honor of her younger brother Daniel, who had been a Special Olympics athlete himself. Tantaros covered the Special Olympics in a special segment on her program. In addition, FOX Sports 1's Molly McGrath and Mike Hill emceed the Closing Ceremony on June 20.
The 2014 USA Games were staged throughout Mercer County, NJ, including competitions at Princeton University, Rider University, the College of New Jersey, and Mercer County Park, where several of the Games' sponsors, including 21st Century Fox, were present. Representatives from 21st Century Fox, FOX Sports, FOX Broadcasting, and FOX TV Stations were on hand to interact with the athletes, coaches, volunteers, and spectators, encouraging all of them to have their photos taken with Cleatus the FOX Sports Robot and props from FOX shows, spin a prize wheel, or participate in a football toss.
"The commitment by 21st Century Fox is unparalleled for any Special Olympics USA Games and speaks volumes about the company's willingness to use all of its assets to showcase the abilities of our athletes," said T.J. Nelligan, Chairman and CEO of the 2014 Games.
For more information on how to watch the FOX Sports 1 special, visit FOXSports1.com. See the video below for a message from 21st Century Fox.
In an effort to push the boundaries of what defines exploration, the National Geographic Channel this week announced Expedition Granted, a nationwide competition in the U.S. to find and fund the next generation of explorers. The contest will accept project proposals from a range of disciplines, and the winner will receive a $50,000 grant toward his/her dream expedition. With this new program, Nat Geo hopes to incentivize everyone around the world to embark on a new age of exploration.
Expedition Granted aims to show that explorers come in all shapes and sizes, and they can be passionate about any field, including art, music, food, science, technology, and more. "We want to help redefine the concept of exploration--anyone with a big idea and passion to make it come to life can be an explorer," said NGC CEO Courteney Monroe. "There is no limit to what we want to see."
The contest is open to anyone in the U.S. over the age of 21, and contestants have until August 31 to submit short videos outlining their projects. NGC will feature these projects on the Expedition Granted website, and fans can show their support for their favorites by liking and sharing on social media. After all the videos have been submitted, NGC will rely on its group of advisors to select up to 10 finalists. Brain Games host Jason Silva, musician and producer Thomas Dolby, author and science evangelist Ainissa G. Ramirez, and journalist Thayer Walker are just a few of the exciting talents that have come on board for this project. Click here for a full list of Expedition Granted advisors.
After the group of finalists is released, the public will have a chance to vote for the winning project. The winner will be announced this fall and, in addition to the $50,0000 prize, will be highlighted on-air on NGC. Through this contest, Nat Geo hopes to show that exploration is not just for mountain climbers and photographers; anyone can be an explorer.
Expedition Granted was developed in partnership with the National Geographic Society, 21st Century Fox, and sponsors the Jeep brand and Dos Equis.
On Monday, June 16, the new Los Angeles branch of the New York-based Ghetto Film School opened its doors to its first class of students. The School, which is sponsored by 21st Century Fox, aims to develop the next generation of storytellers by teaching filmmaking to young people from historically low-income communities. Its new site in L.A.'s MacArthur Park uses facilities provided by the nonprofit organization Heart of Los Angeles, which hosted a kick-off event for GFS on Monday.
"It's wonderful for these kids to realize that in their hometown there is this entire creative industry with many different jobs," said Peter Rice, Chairman and CEO of the Fox Networks Group, who spoke at the event. "This can give them an access point. It has changed the lives of thousands of kids in New York, and it will do so here."
Rice was joined by Los Angeles City film czar Ken Ziffren, City Councilman Gil Cedillo, and Academy Award-nominated director David O. Russell, a longtime board member of GFS.
"We have seen 12 years of kids in New York City graduate and go on to college, far beyond the average in New York City," Russell said. "The kids are inspired. They have to work hard, but they learn about every aspect of filmmaking."
The School was founded by Joe Hall in 2000, and since then, it has quickly become a prominent educational and artistic resource. With the new branch in Los Angeles, Hall and his team hope to emulate the curriculum they perfected at the original South Bronx campus and use it to reach new communities of young people in L.A.
"We're looking for kids who are passionate about storytelling and who love movies," said filmmaker Stosh Mintek, who will run the L.A. branch. "We also make sure this is something they are strongly committed to. We have storytelling exercises the kids have to do just to apply. That way we can gage if they have a creative and unique perspective on the story."
The new site is initially operating as an eight-week summer program. Senior Fox executives and other members of the entertainment industry will serve as mentors and lecturers for the student body, which will increase from 23 to 75 carefully selected students over the next few years.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, the new series from FOX and the National Geographic Channel, has received acclaim for its efforts to bring science education to primetime television. The show has covered topics as wide ranging as black holes, supernovas, and how the earth was formed. In the latest episode, which was among the most-watched shows on Sunday, host Neil deGrasse Tyson turns his attention to the important issue of climate change.
Throughout the episode, Tyson explains all facets of climate change, from its underlying scientific principles like the greenhouse effect to some common misconceptions, such as the difference between weather and climate. "If we scientists are so good at making these dire long-term predictions about the climate, how come we're so lousy about predicting the weather?" he asks.
Weather, Tyson explains, can be defined as the short term fluctuations in atmospheric activity, whereas climate is a long-term average of weather patterns over a number of years. Tyson likens this difference to walking a dog on a leash. We can observe the dog's trajectory by watching where the dog walker goes over time, not the dog itself. Watch the clip above for more detail.
As to the cause of climate change, Tyson says, all signs point to human activity. The amount of heat from the sun that reaches Earth has not changed, and even the largest scientific estimate of CO2 emitted by volcanic eruptions every year is not even 2% of that which human activity generates every year. He concludes, "Our fingerprints are all over this one."
Yet, Tyson is careful to avoid the usual gloom and doom when talking about the future of the planet. Instead, he focuses on what we can do to combat climate change, like using renewable fuels. Solar power, for example, has been around since Augustin Mouchot unveiled his "sun machine" at the Paris World's Fair in 1878, and if we could harness just 1% of the wind's power, we could generate enough clean energy to power our entire civilization.
"It's not too late," Tyson says as the episode concludes. "We've had our backs to the wall before, and we've been able to push through to new heights... There are no scientific or technological obstacles to protecting the life that our world supports. It all depends on what we truly value, and if we can summon the will to act."
Series co-creator Ann Druyan, who live tweeted the episode, seconded Tyson. "Use your knowledge and talent to awaken and inspire people. Demand action from representatives. Support science," she wrote.
On Friday, STAR India CEO Uday Shankar spoke at the prestigious Paley Center for Media in New York. The event, part of the Paley Center Media Council breakfast series and sponsored by 21st Century Fox, gathered some of the top players in the media industry to hear Shankar discuss the role of social responsibility in media, women's empowerment, and of course, STAR's hit show Satyamev Jayate ("Truth Alone Prevails").
21st Century Fox Co-Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch, who ran STAR India from 2000-2003, gave the introductory remarks."For Uday, 'Inspiring a Billion Imaginations' isn't just a tagline; it's a promise," Murdoch said. "STAR India has become a shining example of a 21st century leader that combines a desire for profit with a drive for purpose."
Shankar spoke in conversation with Bobby Ghosh, the editor of TIME Magazine International. Their conversation was wide-ranging, and Shankar spoke at length about STAR's longtime commitment to developing and airing content that is both entertaining and socially progressive. STAR, for example, was the first television company in India to create shows that focused on strong, independent female characters, first through a series of popular soap operas known as "the K-serials." Even today, STAR's most watched drama follows the journey of a young woman who pursues her dream of becoming a police officer, despite opposition from the conservative family into which she was married.
The rights of women and girls has long been one of India's most pressing social concerns, and it is an issue that Shankar takes seriously. "The driver characters for change [on our shows] are women," Shankar said. "They are the biggest ambassadors and proselytizers of change in their own context."
Shankar also spoke more broadly about the social responsibility that he feels should be inherent to media content. "Each business contributes its own share to society, but there's a certain amount of premium that society places on media businesses," he said. "I've always felt--and my bosses have always encouraged me--to challenge the status quo... Our job is to question, to focus the spotlight on what we feel needs to be observed more closely."
One of the most notable ways Shankar has delivered on this promise is through the launch of Satyamev Jayate, or "Truth Alone Prevails," a show featuring Bollywood star Aamir Khan discussing some of the most important and sensitive issues facing India today, from female feticide and alcoholism to child sex abuse and political corruption. The first season launched in May 2012, and the second season just concluded its run in March.
"It is like nothing else on TV that I'm aware of anywhere else in the world," Ghosh said of the show. "It deals with issues that India has tended to sweep under the carpet. It's unrelenting and very, very tough. And yet, the success of the show has been astonishing."
Indeed, from its first episode, the show received enthusiastic feedback and record viewership numbers. SMJ became the first Indian series to reach 2nd place on Twitter's top 10 global trends, and STAR estimates that the first season alone was seen by approximately 500 million Indians. Beyond its success among audiences, the show has also directly affected Indian law, leading to several new or revised laws on the issues the show addressed, with politicians directly citing SMJ as an influence.
Shankar had grand aspirations for the show from the earliest days of the project. He said the question on his mind during his first meeting with Aamir Khan was, "Should we use the power of television to do something that will change this country?" He went on, "I want to point out the difference between media content with social responsibility and without social responsibility. If it's irresponsible, we should not do it... All media content should be corporate social responsibility. If it's not, then we feel we have failed."
Due to support from 21st Century Fox, the acclaimed New York-based nonprofit Ghetto Film School will open a new Los Angeles branch in June.
Founded in 2000 by Joe Hall, the Ghetto Film School began as an after-school program to teach filmmaking to the young people of New York's historically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Over the past 14 years, the organization has grown into a cultural treasure for New York, and its focus on grooming the next generation of great storytellers has attracted some of Hollywood's most talented directors.
James Murdoch, co-COO of 21st Century Fox, said that the decision to get involved and help bring the Ghetto Film School to Los Angeles was a natural fit for the company. "When Joe Hall told me that he wanted to open GFS LA, it was a no-brainer -- we are very happy to be able to help make it a reality," Murdoch said. "Supporting storytellers is what we do, and aspire to do, every day in our company -- so to be able to support new storytellers at the Ghetto Film School just feels right."
GFS Los Angeles will open its doors to its first class of students in June, utilizing facilities in MacArthur Park made available by Heart of Los Angeles, a nonprofit that encourages minority young people to pursue programs in academic achievement, the arts, and athletics. The School's first class will consist of 25 students and will expand to 75 students over the next few years.
21st Century Fox, a longtime partner of GFS, will provide financial and in-kind support for the new branch, including integration with the school's curriculum through the sharing of content and the involvement of senior executives as mentors and guest lecturers. GFS LA programming will be free of charge, with students from the local area completing a 30-month college-level, pre-professional immersion in cinematic storytelling and production training after school and on weekends.
"What Joe and his team have built in the Bronx has delivered real results from an incredible focus and a feel for storytelling," Murdoch said. "They've discovered talented kids and have made a difference in their lives."
On October 6, 2013, more than 4,000 runners participated in the "One Day for the Planet" 10K race in Bogota, Columbia, organized by National Geographic Channel International and Fox International Channels-Colombia.
The race, which finished in Bogota's Simon Bolivar Metropolitan Park, marked the first time Nat Geo organized such a large-scale athletic competition, but Anderson Ortiz, Marketing Manager of Fox Colombia, said the event was a natural fit for the channel.
"The idea came from the essence of the channel, which has always been attentive to the environment, what happens to the planet, and all environmental phenomena that Colombia and Latin America experience," Ortiz said. "[It is] something that affects us every day."
Nat Geo pledged to use the funds from the registration fees to reforest an ailing piece of land near the Bogota River. The company estimates that the race allowed them to plant nearly 8,600 trees.
"As an environmental channel, what better way to do something for the planet than to rally people towards a cause?" Ortiz said.
For more information and more photos from race day, visit the event's official website.
Beginning Sunday, May 11, the riders of Team Sky will compete in the ninth annual Amgen Tour of California, the largest and most prestigious professional cycling race in the United States. The Tour, which lasts eight days and covers 720 miles between Sacramento and Pasadena, is a unique opportunity for the team to engage and inspire cycling fans in America, just as they have done so successfully in the UK.
Team Sky, which is co-owned by 21st Century Fox and British Sky Broadcasting, was formed in 2009 and, in just a few years' time, has become a singular presence in British cycling. The team has won the Tour de France for two years running, and in 2012, Sir Bradley Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France, an achievement he followed up by winning the Gold Medal in the London Olympics one month later. However, the team has made its name not only through superior performances in races all over the world but through its mission to inspire its fans to live healthier, more active lifestyles.
"Inspiration to Participation" is the motto that guides all of Team Sky's outreach efforts, including their hugely successful SkyRide events. The SkyRide began in 2009 as an event to encourage fans to join in the fun of cycling and introduce regular exercise to their routines. Fans could participate in a special traffic-free bike ride on a 15 kilometer route through London. An outstanding 65,000 people participated, and the event has only grown in popularity since then, now including several partner rides throughout the UK every year. Team Sky estimates that programs like these have inspired more than 1.3 million people in the UK to take up regular cycling.
This week marks the team's first appearance at the Tour of California, and Team Sky is seizing the opportunity to bring its "Inspiration to Participation" plan to American sports fans. To that end, 21st Century Fox is an official partner of the "Ride, Roll & Stroll" community ride in Pasadena, California, on Saturday, May 17, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. This free event is an open-streets bike ride that takes place on the official Tour of California course. People of all ages and abilities are encouraged to get on their bikes and connect with local businesses, the environment, and healthy activity. All participants are encouraged to stick around to see the race later that day.
For more information on the "Ride, Roll & Stroll" event, visit the event website. In addition, check out the team's appearances on MyFoxLA, AOL Sports, ESPN.com, Cycling Weekly, SBS Cycling Central, ESPN Endurance, Planet Sports, Give Me Sport, Cycling News, Sky Sports, Velo News, IOL Sport, Global Post, Super Sport, Times of India, Cycling Tips, Talk Sport, the San Jose Mercury News, and America's Pre-Game on Fox Sports 1. Be on the lookout for interviews with Sir Bradley Wiggins in the Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, Maxim, USA Today, and Men's Journal.
Good luck, Team Sky!