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DGA Sees Little Diversity

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The Directors Guild of America has reported that producers still refuse to increase the hiring of women and other minorities to direct primetime drama and comedy on American television.

The report shows that for the third year in a row, Caucasian males directed more than 80% of episodes, and that women and minority directors continue to be missing from some of the best-known series lineups. The report reveals that in the most recent 2002-2003 season, 13 of the top 40 shows have not hired minority directors, 10 have not hired women directors, and three have excluded both women and minority directors.

"The report reveals that once again the producers and the networks have failed to fulfill their contractual good faith obligation to hire more women and minority directors," said DGA President Martha Coolidge last week. "Although for many years we have challenged the industry to open up employment opportunities for women and minorities, and last year made explicit the hiring records of the top forty shows, it is clear from this report that the producers' and the networks' commitment to diversity is not reflected in their hiring of directors."

This is the third season in a row the guild has tracked the hiring records of the top 40 primetime drama and comedy television series. The most recent report shows that of the 860 total episodes studied in 2002-2003, Caucasian males directed 705 (82%); women directed 92 (11%); African-Americans, 43 (5%); Latinos, 14 (2%); and Asian-Americans directed eight episodes (1%). The statistics are virtually unchanged from the past two years.

The single exception is in the hiring of African-American directors, which has increased from 3% (2000-01 season) to 5% (in the most recent 2002-03 season) of total episodes directed.

"The DGA finds the lack of effort by producers and networks in women and minority hiring to be deplorable," said Coolidge. "We are prepared to use all available resources at our disposal to change this unacceptable situation and are exploring all options to ensure that the good faith effort to increase diversity in hiring practices called for under the Basic Agreement is demonstrated through action, not words. By making a good faith effort now to employ more women and minorities, the producers and the networks can avoid negative public attention by making the right and ethical choice to be inclusive."

The Basic Agreement is the name of the guild's film-TV contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Coolidge listed specifics of the DGA's diversity efforts with producers to emphasize her frustration.

"The DGA and its African American, Asian, Latino and women's committees have held countless meetings with producers, networks and studio representatives, conducted nine networking mixers in 2002 to introduce women and minority directors to key showrunners in order to develop new relationships, and have created extensive women and minority director contact lists to counter the argument that quality women and minority directors are difficult to find. With few exceptions, these efforts have not translated into action by the producers and the networks," said Coolidge. "We challenge the industry, yet again, to demonstrate a real commitment to diversity by making a good faith effort by hiring, not making empty promises."

The DGA report was based on several sources, including the guild's internal tracking statistics and network self-reports.

—Roger Armbrust

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