Weekly Insight

Index

June 14, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

On Monday, Annie and I had a great time sharing our SEEKING REPRESENTATION 101 workshop with Actors Connection! It's always wonderful hearing your questions and discussing creative ways to take informed, bold, action. The Summer is often a great time to start a representation campaign. If you missed our workshop yesterday, check out our Seeking Representation 101 resource to help you get your materials in shape and start introducing yourself to talent agents and talent managers.

As you know, we are working every day at making the Up-To-Date Actor the most helpful resource possible for professional and aspiring actors. When an idea comes up we jump on it. During our workshop yesterday, questions to ask (and be prepared for) during an interview came up and we realized, that needs to be added to the Resources section! Voila! Now users with a paid subscription can find Annie's list of questions to ask during an agent/manager interview AND questions to be prepared to answer.

Next month we are piggy-backing on this momentum and discussing FOLLOW-UPS at our next free workshop. Check out more information below. And if you want to get a headstart on follow-ups, check out our Follow-Ups resource section on the Up-To-Date Actor.

As always, create a great week! ✌️

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Tony Awards

This past Sunday was the 75th Tony Awards. The ceremony was the first full-blown production since the pandemic, and I for one was a puddle of emotion the entire time. I was not alone, truly 😉 Viewership was up by nearly 40% for the CBS broadcast. This is great news for what is historically the least-watched ceremony on broadcast television.

The broadcast was also a historic night for queer artists with Non-binary Toby Marlow's win for Best Original Score of SIX: The Musical (with co-writer Lucy Moss). This win made Marlow the first non-cisgender Tony winner in Tony Awards history. Check out some other takeaways from the evening and check out what the critics thought of the show.

And of course, all that matters in the end: 🏆 A full list of the winners from the evening

Theatre: out with the old, in with the new!

It is not uncommon for many shows to announce closing dates if they don't receive awards at the Tonys. But several longstanding musicals announced their Fall closing dates last week, prior to this year's Tonys. Now is your final chance to catch TINA, DEAR EVAN HANSEN, and COME FROM AWAY before they dim the lights.

Their closings are making way for the new class of shows to make their Broadway debut. As is the case with almost every aspect of this industry, the moment one event is over (hello, Tonys), we're looking ahead to what's next. Check out and welcome the 2022-2023 Broadway season. Add any of these shows to your targets on the Up-To-Date Actor and be notified of any audition opportunity leading up to and during their run!

Guns & Hollywood

The Brady organization against gun violence is calling on Hollywood writers, directors, and producers to examine onscreen gun violence and depictions of gun safety, asking the creative community to sign a pledge that's already garnered more than 200 signatures of such names as Judd Apatow, Shonda Rhimes, Damon Lindelof, and Jimmy Kimmel and more. The pledge, while noting that the "responsibility lies with lax gun laws supported by those politicians more afraid of losing power than saving lives," acknowledges that "America's storytellers" have the power to "effect change."

Streaming, Broadcast & Upfronts

After a subscriber loss sent Netflix's stock price tumbling down some in the industry are worried that the content gold rush is ending. This is just one example of a casualty of a bear market. But others, such as Executive Producer Liz Hannah, A&E Studios Head Barry Jossen, and UTA partner and Co-head of Media Rights Jason Richman, are looking to international markets to help drive the continued need for original content. "I haven't felt any letup whatsoever, which I think just speaks to the demand being high," Richman said. "There's a lot of musical chairs going across the studio landscape, but it's going to settle out. The new incumbents have to build their new slates. We look at it as opportunities to bring the artists we're representing into their lives and filling the blank space."

Variety's annual "A Night in the Writer's Room" event brought together showrunners and creators from some of the top shows. During the comedy roundtable, eleven of the TV industry's top comedy creators and showrunners came together to talk about the so-called return of the broadcast sitcom, the daunting task of reshaping and adhering to beloved IP, and why the workplace comedy is still a tried-and-true format. On the drama side, creators and showrunners discussed bringing new ideas to old properties, what it's like to write a series finale, and what it looks like to run a writers' room under pandemic restrictions.

FOX has finally released the Fall lineup, after breaking with tradition during upfronts week. The network continues to forge its own path by unveiling its fall grid along with premiere dates, becoming the last broadcast network to release its fall lineup but the first to announce premiere dates.

Seemingly at the same time, Fox Corp. and NBCUniversal have started to write early deals in TV's upfront market, a sign that networks and at least one large media buyer have started to come to terms on pricing that could govern the flow of millions of dollars of investment from Madison Avenue. The activity suggests Madison Avenue continues to place importance on TV advertising, although executives say streaming video is also occupying a great deal of advertisers' attention.

More TV News:

Shakeup at the House of Mouse

Last week, Disney shocked the industry by firing Peter Rice from his post as chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content. and naming Dana Walden, Chairman of Entertainment, Walt Disney Television, to succeed him. It was a thunderbolt move that left those around Hollywood speechless, partly for the clumsy chain of events, but also in upsetting an executive structure that worked so well. This shocking news left many wondering, why exactly was Rice fired?

It's apparent from Rice's last memo to staff that he was also in the dark that he "was not a fit for Disney's new corporate culture." Walden has since sent a memo to staff praising Rice and singling out her commitment to inclusion.

Honoring Black Theatre

The theatre community has made many strides in, as Ariana DeBose said at the Tonys, "making the Great White Way [become] more of a nickname than a how-to-guide". Continuing on the path of progress, the Brooks Atkinson Broadway theatre is being renamed for Lena Horne. This historic renaming marks the first time a Broadway theatre has been named for a Black woman.

NYU is also naming a theatre at their newly built complex after the African Grove Theatre. This partially forgotten theatre is credited for being the nation's first Black theatre, which opened at the same location on Mercer street in 1921. Read more about this wonderful piece of theatre history and how NYU is honoring this legacy.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Producers Eva Longoria and Charles D. King are tired of hearing from producers that "they looked for diverse crew members, but couldn't find any." MACRO CEO King and UnbeliEVAble Entertainment founder Longoria said they are creating a database of diverse talent they can present to studios when faced with that question. "We have to do the work," Longoria said at a keynote talk for the Produced By conference."Every time I produce something, I bring my crew list." Longoria and King said they share the list amongst each other, and with other filmmakers like Ava DuVernay. DuVernay has gone a step further, creating the Array Crew database which is also accessible by studios. If you see a void, fill it!

We often talk about the issues that still need to be addressed, and rightfully so. We must continue to shine a light on areas that need improvement. But we also have to celebrate tiny victories. Did you know all three Dick Wolf shows in the "Chicago" franchise CHICAGO FIRE, CHICAGO MED, AND CHICAGO P.D. are led by female showrunners?! This might not seem like much but it is a great stride in shattering a genre that historically has been a major part of the boy's club.

The Native American Media Alliance has announced the selected fellows for the 2nd Annual Native American Writers Seminar. This month-long intensive develops emerging writers who are new to writing for film and television, providing new access for Native Americans interested in breaking into writing for film and television. All participants chosen for the seminar will workshop an existing script with creative executives from Skydance Media and Powderkeg Media as well as established writers on current series from CBS, ABC, and HBOMax. The program provides intensive development workshops and is accompanied by rigorous writing sessions.

Kristen Stewart has opened the gates for her paranormal reality series, calling on ghost hunters and mediums to audition for the upcoming production. "I am scarily excited to announce that I'm teaming up with Scout, the producers of QUEER EYE, LEGENDARY, and THE HYPE, on the most gayest, most funnest, most titillating queer ghost-hunting show ever, says Stewart. Prospective ghost-hunters from the LGBTQ+ community can fill out a questionnaire regarding their experience with the paranormal. Read the article for more info.

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

TV

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Theatre

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

TV

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Theatre

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June 7, 2022

Happy June, UTD!

Last week I went to a Broadway show for the first time in a while and saw Second Stage's TAKE ME OUT. It was also my first time being required to use a Yondr pouch to store my phone for the duration of the show. Recently, despite the Yondr phone pouch, an audience member recorded and posted video of one of the show's nude scenes. The New York Times has an interesting piece on whether nude scenes will survive with cameras on every phone.

I was surprised to discover I didn't mind locking my phone away. What obviously seemed like an inconvenience had a few unexpected positives. At intermission one can normally observe a large part of the audience staring into their phone, scrolling through social, sending a text, or just generally killing time. Since everyone's phone was locked away I noticed more people conversing, smiling, and engaging with the people around them. It was a subtle shift, but it was refreshing nonetheless. At one point my friend and I wanted to look up who was in the original cast. We chuckled and moved on when realizing we couldn't immediately look up the answer without our phones. But maybe the most wonderful aspect of Yondr....not a single...phone...rang. For two and a half hours it was as if the cell phone in all of its glory didn't exist, and for me it was welcome.

Upcoming Events

Annie and I are excited to be back at Actors Connection next week. We are holding our popular SEEKING REPRESENTATION 101 next Monday 6/13 @ 3 PM ET. We will be taking your questions regarding seeking representation and any questions about how the Up-To-Date Actor can help you with your campaign. Hope to see you there!

Create a great week! ✌️

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Production Boom in Massachusetts

Not to be outdone by industry strongholds in LA, NYC, and Atlanta, officials in Massachusetts have tee'd the state up to compete with other production hubs around the country with its own robust film and TV incentive program, dating back to its initial introduction in 2006. Since then, the state has played host to many an action-packed drama like KNIVES OUT, as well as smaller indie features like the Oscar-winner MANCHESTER BY THE SEA. These days, studios and streamers alike are finding a home in the Bay State, with productions from Marvel, Paramount+, and more setting up shop.

The economic output has been easily seen. Aside from the obvious benefits of production spending while shooting occurs, the residual effects of using recognizable areas on screen leads to an increase in film tourism, which officials with the state film office describe as "a happy benefit of productions." Production studios are also beefing up their presence to make room for more productions - Marina Stage, Boston's only dedicated soundstage - is currently booked through 2026, and owners are already in talks to expand the current space, as well as eyeing up locations to hopefully develop into new sound stages in the years ahead.

Awards Chatter

Attendees at Tony Awards this Sunday 6/12 @ 8 PM ET will not be required to wear a mask, however, they will have to return a negative PCR test prior. This is in contrast to the mask mandate that is still in effect for Broadway shows, but Radio City, the ceremony's traditional venue, is not a Broadway house and therefore is not governed by the same mandate. "As a significant portion of the orchestra are Tony Award nominees and either going to be on stage and/or performing, it felt necessary to do the same for all of those in the orchestra. Requirements to be on stage include the PCR testing and verification," Tony Award Productions revealed in a statement.

Earlier today student rush tickets to the Tonys were made available at the box office. Folks who showed up this morning with student ID in tow were able to purchase tickets for a cool $250 + $6 facility fee 😳 As ridiculously expensive as that is, to put this absurd number in perspective, full price tickets to the event range from $368 to $2484. And that's all I will say on the matter... 🤑💸

It seems like there is never a moment where there isn't Film & TV awards chatter. The Emmys are in two weeks so that is understandable, but despite the fact that the Oscars weren't that long ago you would think we would have a few months of a hiatus from Film awards chatter, but no. When one season ends the other is right behind!

Industry Intel

ELVIS director Baz Luhrmann recently spoke about the extensive background work that the film's production team took on in the months leading up to filming, and how important he felt it was for the film to capture the influence that growing up in a predominantly Black community had on the King of Rock 'n' Roll's music style. "[T]his is the thing about young people," Luhrmann said. "They absorb all kinds of things, especially someone with a big hole in their heart like Elvis, who had conditional love from his mother and was always searching and seeking and absorbing." The film is set for full release on June 24 🎶

Starting today, Variety's Virtual TV Fest will showcase some of the most exciting content from the last year, and will bring together writers, directors, and more to discuss the process that inspired them to create the content populating our streaming platforms each day. A main theme this year has been the reliance on history and true crime, with top picks like INVENTING ANNA, THE DROPOUT, and DOPESICK all being based on real events that the shows' creators felt had a story to be told. Stay tuned for a full round up from this week's Virtual TV Fest! 📺

The complicated world of streaming payouts received some new discord last week with longtime producer and media mogul Jeff Sagansky calling out the dichotomy of today's massive boom of content vs the relatively modest payout that actors and creators receive from said content, calling it a "brutally unfair" way of doing business. "I don't think there is a more rotten time to be a producer in terms of being paid fairly for the work you are doing," Sagansky said, calling out what he feels is a complete disconnect between what above-the-line talent is being paid for their work, and the global distribution that the work receives each day. The complex web of streaming continues to grow 🕸

Playwright Martin McDonagh is no stranger to uncanny twists and turns in his work, and that proclivity for unsuspecting outcomes and bemusing plot points is alive and well in his current Broadway production of HANGMEN. McDonagh spoke about his process of navigating his brand of unique storytelling, saying that the inspiration for his story came from his observations of the British justice system in the 1960s. Check out his full interview with Deadline to hear about his process!

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The original Wonder Woman Lynda Carter took on some criticism on Twitter last week in a series of tweets detailing the role that the superhero has played in gaining visibility for the LGBTQIA+ community. After receiving a reply to her Pride Month posting saying that Wonder Woman was not created for the gay community, Carter fired back with a quick history lesson on how the character's writing makes it clear that she is indeed a bisexual superhero, saying that "if you want to argue that she is somehow not a queer or trans icon, then you're not paying attention."

A Black film critic with the Deadline team shared her experiences last week after being sent to the Cannes Film Festival and being subjected to what she described as a series of microaggressions, as well as a "culture of elitism and exclusion." Valerie Complex wrote about the overreaching security searches, credential checks, and overall lack of inclusion among the festival's staff and various attendees: "When you review a film, you want your focus to be on what is on the screen and nothing else. It was hard to dismiss the emotions of being singled out like this." Complex went on to note that it's time for Cannes - and the festival circuit at large - to recognize the lack of diversity that persists in the community, and to begin developing actionable steps to institute real change moving forward.

A new partnership between USC School of Cinematic Arts and INSECURE filmmaker Prentice Penny will center writers of color, and provide them with real-world work experiences to help develop their skills and own work. The FirstUp program will be open to all students within USC's SCA program, with three finalists being selected to receive the funding and mentorship opportunities, as well as the chance to pitch their ideas to studio execs from Disney and its wide swath of subsidiaries. "One of the hardest and scarier things is to enter into the workforce without any momentum and no clear understanding of how to get your career started," Penny said. "I know it was for me and it's even more daunting when you see limited opportunities for people who look like you."

On the one year anniversary of Amazon publishing their manifesto on inclusion across all of its branches, global head of DEI for Prime Video Latasha Gillespie is proud of the progress that the studio has made in its hiring practices, while noting that the document remains to be a benchmark for both the streaming giant as well as its fellow production companies to use moving forward. "We're asking not only our creative partners but our industry to hold hands and do this with us," Gillespie said on Variety's Strictly Business podcast. "And oh yes, by the way, if you find a better way of doing any aspect of this policy or playbook, will you please share it back with us so we can continually update it and we can all benefit from the learning."

New York City is set to provide $15 million to fund the Immigrant Research and Performing Arts Center (IRPAC) in northern Manhattan, in a new partnership with the People's Theatre Project. The money will go toward constructing a new venue that will support exhibits and performances from artists that represent the vast array of communities throughout the city, with the estimated completion date set for 2027. "New Yorkers deserve a city that is more inclusive and more prosperous after the pandemic than it was before, and we are building that city every day," NYC mayor Eric Adams said. "Part of that is creating opportunities for all our young people to see themselves in our arts and culture, and this project will provide a new generation of young, immigrant New Yorkers with that invaluable experience."

More Articles:

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


Film

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Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

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TV

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Theatre

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May 31, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day and were able to relax and enjoy the unofficial start of Summer! 🌞 With temps already starting to soar here on the East Coast, it really does feel like Summer arrived early. Why does high heat automatically make one feel a bit more lazy and languid? You can see this reflected in the industry cycle as well. It's as if there was a mad dash leading up to Upfronts and then bam, Memorial Day arrives and tones it down a notch.

I am trying as hard as I can to lean into the idea of Summer as a time that can be productive but stress-free. Instead of getting wrapped up in the all-too-offten frenzy of busy-ness. My goal this Summer is to develop a present, in the moment, ease in tackling my to-do list. What are your goals this Summer? Sometimes goals are a tangible task or achievement and sometimes they can be a commitment to a holistic shift. I'm all about both of them right now.

Look for a return to our long format email next week, but for now, check out the highlights from last week's (semi-slowing) news circuit.

Create a great week! ✌️

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

TV

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Theatre

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

TV

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Theatre

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

May 24, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

Last week wrapped up the end of Upfronts. We have bulleted all important articles and takeaways from the second half of the week's events. If you missed last week's email with the first half of upfront coverage, you can find everything on our Up-To-Date Actor Blog.

We are going with a more streamlined format this week. But you can still find all of the UTDA curated news you need to know.

Create a great week! ✌️

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

TV

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

May 17, 2022

Happy Upfront Week, UTD!

Annie and I were thrilled to co-present Actor Insider Tips: LA Edition event last Sunday. Our stellar panel - casting director Jamie Castro Rausch, theatrical agent Elmer Blanco, producer/casting director Ashley-Lauren Elrod, and publicist Steven Shehori - provided actors with a wealth of ideas and tips. This event was timely considering production in LA is hitting pre-pandemic levels and with a new slate of TV being announced and greenlit.

On that note, it's upfront week! Upfronts are a weeklong event where the broadcast networks announce their Fall lineups for the advertising execs of Madison Ave. It's the time where networks show their cards on which shows are going forward and which are being retired. As I always mention around pilot season and upfronts, if you are ever curious about why some shows make it and some do not, follow the money! 💸

It will be a busy news week so look out for daily notifications on the TV shows your are targeting on The Up-To-Date Actor. Be in the know, be Up-To-Date! 😉

Create a great week! ✌️

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

TV: Out with the Old, In with the New!

Upfronts are upon us!! The past few weeks have seen a deluge of network cancellations and reductions in offerings from studios scrambling to keep up with decreasing ad spends and continued reliance on streaming over traditional linear content, and the results have been dicey at best. Stalwart series like MAGNUM, P.I., and ROSWELL received their walking papers from CBS and The CW, with the latter announcing that it would only be supporting 11 new and returning scripted series in the 2022-2023 cycle.

Writer-producer Phillip Iscove took to Twitter to comfort the growing cohort of shuttered shows: "Absolutely brutal. My sympathies to all the writers, cast, and crew out there."

This bloodbath came as networks clear the way for this year's Upfront announcements. Yesterday, NBC and Fox kicked off the weeklong extravaganza. Fox shocked many by forgoing the normal live presentation and instead opted for a pre-recorded programme. Fox further shirked tradition by not announcing their Fall line up. Remaining true to convention, NBC released their 22-23 schedule during a live presentation

We will be updating all shows listed on The Up-To-Date Actor throughout the week. Look for a full recap next week. If you can't wait that long, here is a schedule of events you can follow along with. And check back with Variety for their continuous coverage and updates after each presentation.

More Articles:

Industry Intel

A new film and TV contract may be on the way for members of IATSE 161, the East Coast arm of the labor union that represents accountants, coordinators, and script supervisors, as representatives began negotiations with the AMPTP yesterday. The major topic on the table is pay equity, which many members say has become a sticking point among the individual areas of production. "We manage a million different things, and we have a million different job titles and we're not paid as heads of departments," IATSE rep Dawn Mountain said of the pay scale for production coordinators, in the hopes of upgrading members' salaries to bring them more in line with their male-coordinator counterparts.

The past few weeks have seen an uptick in COVID cases around the country, which unfortunately has meant a rise in positive tests on production sets, particularly in LA. County officials have logged at least three notable outbreaks at various Hollywood studios in the last few weeks, and while the overall number is still lower than the previous month, officials remain wary of the lax return-to-work protocols being instituted by the majority of studios in the area.

A HUGE congratulations to playwright James Ijames, who took home the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play FAT HAM, which received its premiere run as a streaming production at Philly's Wilma Theatre, ahead of its opening last week Off-Broadway at The Public Theater in NYC. The show is a retelling of Shakespeare's HAMLET, set in the American South. This year's runners-up were Kristina Wong's KRISTINA WONG, SWEATSHOP OVERLORD, and Sylvia Khoury's SELLING KABUL.

Rumors continue to swirl around Netflix's pivot to ad-supported plans this week, as a New York Times report snagged a memo from company officials pointing to a Q4 launch date of the lower-cost subscription offerings. While Netflix has famously sworn off ad models for being too complex, the recent drop in stock price has forced co-CEOs Ted Sarandos and Reed Hastings to reconsider their position, with Hastings noted on a Q1 earnings call, "[A]s much as I'm a fan of [simplicity], I'm a bigger fan of consumer choice. And allowing consumers who would like to have a lower price and are advertising-tolerant get what they want, makes a lot of sense."

Spain is the latest country to rev up its film and TV tax incentive program, establishing a five-point plan to bring interested studios into the country for future productions. The new program will place an emphasis on women-led projects, as well as updates to the Film Commission website and a revised promotional package for the country. Time for the next GAME OF THRONES saga to set up shop there, me thinks 👀

Actors' Equity took aim at the audience member responsible for recording and distributing a video of TAKE ME OUT actor Jesse Williams last week, calling the video "sexual harassment and an appalling breach of consent." The recording, in which Williams appears fully nude during a scene of the show, garnered widespread outrage from the entertainment community and has since brought Williams into the spotlight to talk about the importance of consent and privacy during live performances. AEA president Katie Shindle wrote, "As actors, we regularly agree to be vulnerable on stage in order to tell difficult and challenging stories. This does not mean that we agree to have those vulnerable moments widely shared by anyone who feels like sneaking a recording device into the theater."

A new PSA is drawing attention to the continued lack of representation for people with disabilities in Hollywood, and the message couldn't be more clear: "Dear Entertainment Industry, THERE IS NO DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION WITHOUT DISABILITY." The numbers are clear: only 2% of on-screen characters, and 1% of writers in Hollywood, are disabled. Organizing group Disability Is Diversity is hoping that the new PSA will bring widespread awareness to this startling lack of representation, in the hopes of creating meaningful industry change in the years ahead.

Awards: Emmys Adjust for Streaming Future, Full Look at 2022 Tony Awards

The Primetime Emmys are officially a thing of the past, as the Television Academy made the decision to cut the time-frames from the nomination process that governs which shows are selected as nominees each year. The wording of the qualifier now states that applicable shows will "identify as a Primetime program by virtue of genre and [if they] were originally presented during the current eligibility year." The shift has left many wondering if this is the latest casualty in the linear vs. streaming battle, as the fields have, in recent years, become dominated by timeslot-less streaming offerings over traditional network offerings. Is one Emmys ceremony to rule them all on the horizon? Time will tell 👁

We received our first look at the 2022 Tony Nominees last week, and the stage is set for an exciting ceremony in a few weeks. Want more intel on which shows and actors are in the running this year? Check out this breakdown from BroadwayWorld, and get your Tony ballots filled out now! 🏆

Actors on Acting

We've been so proud of the extraordinary success that our friend Dom Fishback has had in her career over the last few years, all thanks to her incredible work ethic and willingness to continue to push toward her next big project. Dom sat down with Variety to talk about her recent role in the Samuel L. Jackson-led THE LAST DAY OF PTOLEMY GREY, and the role her character played in how she interacted with the award-winning actor. "She's not intimidated by him. So therefore, I'm not gonna do that because I'm representing this character." Take a listen to the podcast to hear more about Dom's process for preparing for the role!

You may know him as the loveable Patrick Brewer in SCHITT'S CREEK, but Noah Reid is actually quite the veteran of both the stage and screen at the young age of 34. Reid's past credits include Chip in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, as well as the voice of Franklin in the animated Nickelodeon series FRANKLIN (honestly, that one blew my mind). Now, Reid is making a name for himself in Tracy Letts' THE MINUTES on Broadway, and he's not taking any of that time for granted. "It's not going to surprise anyone for me to say...this is a complex time. The world we're living in is so cacophonous. It's so busy," Reid told Playbill. "I just want to continue to do work that challenges me and that I get to surround myself with thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate, and brilliant artists."

NYC Updates

Bryant Park's Books on Broadway series is starting up at 12:30 PM today with the one and only Harvey Fierstein, presenting excerpts from his book "I Was Better Last Night: A Memoir". The program is set to run through the summer and will feature appearances from Jodi Picoult, Tom Moore, and others, spanning film, TV, Broadway, and more. Set aside some time to take in some readings in the park this year! 📚

Looking for some more fun in the NYC sun in the next few months? Grammy-winner Nile Rogers is set to take the stage at Central Park's DiscOasis this summer, being crowned as the "Groovemaster" of the event and tasked with overseeing the music scene of the sprawling roller disco event. Running from June 16th through October 1st, DiscOasis sounds like the perfect post-audition or Broadway show hang-spot, don't you think? 🕺

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


TV

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

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May 10, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

I hope your week is off and running! We're a little late today so going to jump right in.

If you haven't already, check out the Actor Insider Tips: LA Edition free event that we are co-presenting with Actors Connection and Ted Brunetti Studios. More information below.

Create a great week! ✌️

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Actor Insider Tips: LA Edition

We at The Up-To-Date Actor are thrilled to team up with Actors Connection and Ted Brunetti Studios to present Actor Insider Tips: LA Edition, a free Zoom panel where top-level industry experts provide practical guidance for actors looking to build their careers in the Los Angeles market. (Live on Sunday, May 15 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET)

Featured panelist Jamie Castro (acclaimed casting director for SCANDAL, GREY'S ANATOMY, STATION 19, INVENTING ANNA) will be joined by agent Elmer Blanco (Avalon Artists Agency), producer Ashley-Lauren Elrod, and award-winning writer, entertainment journalist, and publicist Steven Shehori.

Actors attending the live virtual event will receive constructive, hands-on industry tips and advice from the veteran panelists, whose topics of discussion will include "Gaining Visibility in Your Chosen Market" and "Strengthening Individuality in Your Career." The panel will conclude with a Q&A. Find out more info and register today!

Streaming Wars: NewFronts Stage Showdown Against Upfronts

As networks gear up for this year's triumphant return to in-person upfronts, it is no secret that streaming has taken a sizable chunk out of the traditional linear model, and it's safe to say the industry has shown no signs of cooling off. The latest report from the IAB, which is responsible for the NewFronts (the digital answer to upfronts), found that online ad spending for TV hit a record $15.2 billion in the last year, with a forecasted hike up to $21.2 billion in the year ahead. With the number of streaming services and content continuing to increase, it's no surprise that ad execs are continuing to jump ship on network spending, in favor of the power and promise of the streaming giants 📺

Studio execs, meanwhile, are keeping their eyes on the prize, trying to juggle their traditional cable offerings while tidying up any streaming outlets to future-proof their business for whatever viewership landscape lies ahead. Reps around the industry have spent the last few weeks praising their most recent numbers, as a part of this year's NewFronts:

With Roe in Jeopardy, Studios Eyeing State Boycotts in Support of Reproductive Rights

After last week's shocking leak of a Supreme Court draft majority opinion from Associate Justice Samuel Alito that suggests that the landmark 1973 Roe vs Wade decision may be on the verge of being overturned, industry analysts are turning back to previous promises made by studios that promised to "revisit" filming in states that support "heartbeat" legislation. The most notorious bill coming out of Georgia in 2019, the missive would ban abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, which prompted outrage from the entertainment industry at large and caused many studios to pull their productions from the state. With the court case ultimately being put on hold until the Supreme Court decision was made on this most recent hearing, many are now wondering if studios will make good on those promises to boycott states like Georgia that institute these harmful, restrictive bans.

The result, so far, has been a general silence from major studios. Advocates from the WGA West released a statement pleading the case for studios to not do business in these states: "Women's rights are human rights, and any laws that ban or limit a woman's right to choose are dangerous and set a precedent for further erosion of our collective civil rights. We call on our employers to consider the laws of each state when choosing production locations to ensure that our members will never be denied full access to reproductive healthcare." Amazon and talent agency UTA have since said that they would reimburse expenses for employees traveling to receive abortion services in other states, but studios like Netflix and Warner Bros Discovery have yet to make their positions known.

Theatre Updates

The 2022 Tony Nominations dropped yesterday, pulling together over two years' worth of eligibility into the highly-anticipated pool of award hopefuls, ahead of the in-person ceremony on June 12th. A STRANGE LOOP came away with the most nominations at 11, while MJ and PARADISE SQUARE both racked up 10 nods each. Check out the full list of nominees here 🏆

This spring's Spring Fundraising Campaign from Broadway Cares brought in over $4.2 million over its six-week run, which will provide support with health care bills, meals, and more to those affected by HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, and other illnesses. Broadway juggernaut THE MUSIC MAN set the pace for all donations, racking up just over $2.1 million in donations, the largest single-show campaign to date. Members of the Broadway community were praised by BC exec director Tom Viola: "Their efforts ensure our grant-making can continue this summer reaching hundreds of organizations nationwide."

The West End run of Andrew Lloyd Webber's reimagined CINDERELLA will officially close its doors on June 12th, taking an early leave from the London stage before its transfer to Broadway in February of next year. News of the early closing reverberated through the theatre community, drawing the ire of many who felt that that announcement came rushed and hushed to avoid any major backlash from the cast and crew. Actors' Equity has since released a statement condemning the manner in which the announcement was made, saying that some cast members first heard the news from social media and were not given adequate time to contact their representation after hearing the news on a Sunday evening before a holiday. "Do not think that sending an e-mail out to an Agent or cast member after hours is fulfilling your obligation. It is not a press matter, it is a matter of workers dignity," the statement read.

The Shubert Organization is set to partner with Stellar on a new venture that will bring live theatre online to audiences around the globe. The pair has already begun working with Telecharge to handle a host of theatre content, with this upcoming arrangement allowing Stellar access to Shubert's extensive network of venues, marketing, and more. "As the role of streaming in theatrical IP continues to evolve, we are excited to partner with Stellar in realizing these new opportunities for shows and other live entertainment projects," Shubert EVP Charles Flateman said.

More Articles:

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The latest installment in the Marvel universe, DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS, welcomed Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, an LGBTQ+ Latina force of nature that will hopefully continue to inhabit the ever-expanding MCU in the years ahead. The introduction of Chavez onto the big screen was a huge step for representation in Hollywood, and Marvel exec Victoria Alonso could not be more excited about what the character means for LGBTQ+ youth. "What it would've meant is to have had a tad more understanding of the person that I was and that I was growing into being was not invisible," she said. "To have your people and to have someone who says, 'I am, and it's OK. I am, and I am powerful. I am, and I belong.'"

The latest report from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that mental health representation in top-performing movies continues to be woefully low, with the few portrayals being almost exclusively based in the experiences of able-bodied cis straight white men. Out of over 4,500 named characters across the top 200 films of 2019, only 1.5% dealt with some sort of mentioned mental health conditions, a drop from 1.7% noted in 2016. "The portrayal of mental health in film has a powerful role to play especially during this period of global mental health crisis," American Foundation for Suicide Prevention CMO Dr. Christine Yu Moutier said. "All people have mental health, and now more than ever, Americans are hungry for information and resources to allow us to not only cope, but to flourish, and to support others' mental health."

The number of scripted TV episodes helmed by women and people of color hit a high point during the 20-21 season, with 38% being taken on by female leadership, and 34% helmed by people of color. Both of these numbers were more than double their representation tally in 2014, hopefully signaling a continued upward trend in the industry. The zoomed-out picture of the season was less promising, as the number of episodes available to direct across all of TV was drastically reduced due to COVID, down by nearly 1,500 from the season before. The gains were also uneven across various demographics, as numbers for Latino and Asian directors remained relatively stagnant from previous seasons, highlighting the work that lies ahead for the DGA and members of the television industry.

The annual Disruptors writing fellowship is accepting applications for this year's program, which looks to support and empower TV writers from underrepresented communities, particular those who identify as non-binary, trans, disabled, or undocumented/formerly undocumented. Disruptor Fellows will receive guidance and membership opportunities, as well as financial support and access to spaces to develop their work in LA. Applications close June 3rd!

A new masterclass series focused on bringing cultural stories in NYC to light, will take place this June at New York Theatre Workshop. The program will be presented through a partnership with Oye Group and Dominican Arts Collective, which seeks to bring systemic oppression to light through its art around the city. Class topics will include "Filmmaking & Multimedia Storytelling" and "Storytelling through Music & Composition," followed by Q&As for all participants, along with the chance to exchange information and resources at the conclusion of each class.

Famed comedy institution The Second City has launched a new fellowship, aimed at increasing Asian representation in the industry. The Victor Wong Fellowship for AAPI Voices in Comedy, made possible by a sizeable donation from Citadel Securities CEO Peng Zhao and his wife Cherry Chen, will establish a fund to support 16 artists each year in a ten-week masterclass-style program, culminating in a showcase event at The Second City space in Chicago. "We are thrilled that this gift will allow us to train emerging AAPI talent to both hone their comedy skills as well as their skills to be deeply collaborative, resilient, and creative individuals," Second City COO Parisa Jalili said.

More Articles:

Industry Updates

On-set mask mandates are finally being relaxed, as the industry announced updated COVID protocols last week that also include decreased testing and vaccine requirements for workers outside of the Zone A pool on productions. The updates will only apply in areas with low COVID-related hospital admissions, and testing will still be required when beginning a new project. The agreement is set to be in place through July 15th.

Cate Blanchett recently shared her thoughts and experience on working with male directors in her career, commenting that some male directors "need to feel attracted" to the women in their movies in order to make them feel appealing. Blanchett spoke about her experiences with many costume and HMU teams that brought her characters to life over the years, remarking that once these departments have worked their magic, "It's profound to see what the character looks like, and therefore how a character might move or project."

Sundance will officially revisit a hybrid format for its 2023 Film Festival, set to run January 19 - 29th in Park City, Utah. Organizers are already gearing up for it to be the largest blended event in the festival's history, with plans to expand its digital offerings to accommodate the growing amount of interest from virtual viewers in the last few years. Submissions will run through August and September before the next round of participants are announced later in the fall.

Early rating reports from the 21-22 season are pointing towards a victory for CBS, standing as the network's 14th consecutive turn as king of the hill in the primetime ratings camp. THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT helped capture the primetime slot for CBS, while a combination of soaps and THE PRICE IS RIGHT held down the fort for daytime viewership. NBC is eyeing the most views for audience members in the 18-49 age demographic, believing that top performers like YOUNG SHELDON and NCIS: HAWAI'I helped set the pace for its successful viewership run this year.

This year's upfront landscape continues to be a potential combination of firsts, as a handful of studios are reportedly opting out of unveiling their fall lineup to advertisers, a once-compulsory portion of the spring upfront tradition to catch the eye of ad execs heading into the next season. With the continued disruption of the typical release schedule and an ever-increasing reliance on streaming to stay afloat, networks may be rolling out similar schedules to their 2021 lineups, choosing instead to invest in alternative content and keeping their weekly schedules relatively untouched. Times they are a'changin!

Ballet legend Jacques d'Amboise has been memorialized with the naming of a street in NYC in his honor after a vote from New York City Council's Committee on Parks and Recreation unanimously agreed to install a sign at the northwest corner of 64th Street and Columbus Avenue commemorating the new Jacques d'Amboise Place. The newly-named drive sits just outside of the Lincoln Center complex, where d'Amboise worked as a member of the New York City Ballet, before founding the National Dance Institute in 1976, which helps provide free dance classes for thousands of low-income students each week. The city will also honor d'Amboise with an event at New York City Center in early June, along with installing a Historic Landmarks plaque at his former residence in Harlem.

More Articles:

International Production: Netflix Expanding, UK Adds Sound Stages

Netflix is expanding its international footprint with the unveiling of its newest office in Rome, which will employ over 70 workers and reinforce the company's commitment to showcasing the rich content in the region. Co-CEO Reed Hastings spoke about the important role that Italy played in the early days of the streamer, sharing that his family had moved to the country 20 years ago while he remained in the US operating the DVD-mail service that has since grown into the success that Netflix is today. The company also unveiled a host of new Made in Italy content that will be available for viewers around the world, bolstering the already impressive collection of international content on the platform.

The town of Wycombe in the UK will be the latest site for an expansive sound stage and production studio in the country, creating over 1,200 jobs and an estimated $380 million in financial stimulus once open. The studio has already scheduled production for an unknown Hollywood project for later this year, as execs hope to jumpstart the new facility's life in the already booming UK film and TV market.

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


Film

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TV

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Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

TV

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May 02, 2022

Happy May, UTD!

I hope your week is off and running! Over the past month we've been building out another aspect of our resources section - a UTDA Blog! Here you will be able to find in-depth information on some of our most asked questions. This past month we took a deep look at Talent Managers. Look for new articles in the coming weeks on Talent Agents and Casting Directors as well.

If you have a question or topic you would love for us to explore, please email info@uptodateactor.com and let us know!

Create a great week! ✌️

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Actor Insider Tips: LA Edition

Actor Insider Tips: LA Edition

We at The Up-To-Date Actor are thrilled to team up with Actors Connection and Ted Brunetti Studios to present Actor Insider Tips: LA Edition, a free Zoom panel where top-level industry experts provide practical guidance for actors looking to build their careers in the Los Angeles market. (Live on Sunday, May 15 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET)

Featured panelist Jamie Castro (acclaimed casting director for SCANDAL, GREY'S ANATOMY, STATION 19, INVENTING ANNA) will be joined by agent Elmer Blanco (Avalon Artists Agency), producer Ashley-Lauren Elrod, and award-winning writer, entertainment journalist, and publicist Steven Shehori.

Actors attending the live virtual event will receive constructive, hands-on industry tips and advice from the veteran panelists, whose topics of discussion will include "Gaining Visibility in Your Chosen Market" and "Strengthening Individuality in Your Career." The panel will conclude with a Q&A. Find out more info and register today!

Off-Broadway Accolades - Lucielle Lortel Awards

The Lucille Lortel Awards crowned its winners on Sunday evening, showcasing some of the most anticipated Off-Broadway shows to hit the stage over the past year. KIMBERLY AKIMBO took home the prize for Outstanding Musical, while ENGLISH took home Outstanding Play, both produced by Atlantic Theater Company, with Roundabout Theatre Company co-producing ENGLISH with ATC. Check out the full list of winners here 🏆

South East Report: Pay In-Equality & Growth

A fiery exchange took place on Twitter last month between Atlanta-based casting director Tara Feldstein and actress Bethany Anne Lind about the working conditions that many actors face when attempting to negotiate deals with studios, which led to an all-out sparring match between Feldstein and other members of the Atlanta acting community. Lind's original point - that mega-studios like Disney - do very little to fairly compensate actors for working on what typically become multi-million dollar profit machines like the Marvel franchise, choosing instead to pay actors the minimum day rate to be on set, and closing the door on any potential negotiations. Feldstein replied to Lind's tweet, saying "$132/hr + free food to sit around most of the day seems like a good day to me," and the race was on, with many actors feeling the comment was out-of-touch and did not advocate for their artistry to be fairly compensated. Feldstein's business partner Chase Paris later posted an apology on Twitter, but the exchange certainly left a bad taste in the mouths of many actors in the Southeast.

While many think of Georgia when discussing production destinations in the Southern US, Kentucky is looking to make a name for itself as an attractive alternative for productions looking for new areas to shoot outside of NYC and LA. An updated tax incentive program earlier this year that offers productions refundable credits is being seen as the first step in coaxing big-name projects to the Bluegrass State, and local industry players couldn't be more excited. "I believe this industry is definitely untapped in its potential for Kentucky and many of our young people who aspire to work in the industry have been moving to other states to work in it," State Senator Mike Wilson said. "Now they have the opportunity to work in their home state pursuing their careers."

One company looking to capitalize on the expansion of Kentucky's production landscape is Wrigley Media Group, which recently announced its latest endeavor to convert an old multiplex in Lexington into a state-of-the-art studio space by next year. The 52,000 square foot plot would become the largest studio in the state, becoming what Wrigley exes are hoping will be the premier shooting space for productions looking to take advantage of Kentucky's newfound tax incentive program.

Cable VS Streaming

In a surprising move, Warner Bros. Discovery announced last week that it would be closing down development for all scripted series on TNT and TBS, two die-hard cable stations that at one time boasted some of the highest numbers of scripted content available. The studio was mum on detail, but the move is an intriguing paradigm shift in the ever-changing cable vs. streaming landscape. What and who is next? 👀

Netflix has gained another ally in its quest to crack down on password sharing amongst its users - Charter CEO Tom Rutledge told analysts on a recent earnings call that addressing the issue is "a point [they've] been trying to make for years," relishing in the ability to say "I told you so," now that Netflix has begun workshopping a more hardline stance in policy. "It's a problem for everybody in the industry because all of that content that's used without anybody paying for it affects the supply and demand of all content, not just the provider that's selling the content, which diminishes the value of content for everybody," Rutledge said.

Movie theater giant Cinepolis' CEO Alejandro Ramírez Magaña has not been shy about the company's strong position it's found itself in this year, emerging from the pandemic lockdown with more locations than it had under its belt in 2019, and eyeing more acquisitions in the months ahead. Magaña credits a few factors for the chain's continued success, most notably its commitment to diversifying the content it hosts across its theaters, as well as relying on relationships with streamers, rather than running from them. "Some studios are coming to the conclusion that a theatrical release helps them down the line in their own streaming platform," he said. "We started conversations over the pandemic also with other non-Hollywood studios and streamers like Netflix; they're analyzing their options."

New COVID Protocols TBA

The major unions in Hollywood elected to extend the current COVID protocols on sets last week, setting up the prospect of a follow-up meeting with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers to revisit and potentially revise the current protocols in the months ahead. The current guidelines established the operating requirements for casts and crews in regards to masking and testing policies on set, and are now scheduled to expire on October 31st unless a new set of protocols is instituted.

Actors on Acting

Viola Davis has shared an intimate look at her life and career in her new memoir "Finding Me", breaking down the early days of her acting, and the obstacles she had to overcome to land the iconic roles she has since become known for. Davis spoke candidly about her time at Juilliard, saying that the "objective" of the program was to "make your Blackness disappear," and her first experiences in Hollywood being marred by casting directors believing she was "not classically beautiful" enough to star as a romantic lead. Take some time to read Viola's stories in "Finding Me"; they're a great reminder of resilience and handling adversity in the industry, from one of the most gifted actresses of our time.

Andrew Garfield recently shared that he would be taking a step back from acting, after a bustling year that included appearing in SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME, and his incredible performance in TICK, TICK... BOOM. In short, it sounds like Garfield just wants to... be a normal person for a bit? "It feels very important right now, especially after a lot of output, a lot of being out in the world, and giving a lot of energy to things that I'm very passionate about, but I have to kind of refill the well so that I can authentically carry on..." Self-care king Andrew for the win 👑

An interesting sharing of creative power has been taking place on the upcoming HBO series THE IDOL, starring Lily Rose Depp and The Weeknd, who is also serving as producer and co-creator. The show is currently going through its latest round of edits and reshoots, as director Amy Seimetz exited the project after overseeing the first four episodes. While the official position of HBO has been that The Weeknd wanted to go in a "new creative direction" after seeing Seimetz's work on the first few episodes, the change of hands has sparked an interesting debate over who truly calls the shots behind the scenes: the director, the producer or the name talent bringing in the fans?

To Do in NYC

Planning to be in NYC this weekend? Classic Stage Company is partnering with the Union Square Barnes & Noble to host a release party for the new cast recording of ASSASSINS this Friday at 7 PM. Tony-nominee Judy Kuhn, along with director John Doyle, orchestrator Greg Jarrett and other members of the cast will be on-hand for a Q&A with the audience and sign copies of the album. Grab your tickets now 🎟

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


Film

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Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

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TV

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April 26, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

As April wraps up and we look forward to May, Pilot season upfronts are happening (read more on this year's pilot season below), award season is just beginning to wane, and with warmer weather creeping around the corner I often feel disjunct between productiveness and a lack of direction. It's all too easy to get swept up in the feeling of busyness without a good sense of direction.

If you're like me, I encourage you to circle back to the goals that you set in January. What steps have you taken towards your year-end goal in the past four months? Evaluate your progress and look for ways you can improve your process. Maybe you see new steps to achieving your goal. Maybe your initial roadmap needs some tweaking. When in doubt, break it down and get specific! The more research you do and the more specific you can be, the faster you will see a return for your effort.

We at the Up-To-Date Actor are here to help! As you reassess your goals take advantage of our new resources section. This new feature provides tiered access to a wealth of tips and advice for crafting better marketing materials (resumes, cover letters, follow-up notes, etc.).

If you're feeling stuck on how to book more work on your own, check out one of our previously recorded workshops on Booking Film, TV, and Pilot Work and learn how you can target projects currently casting and compose a "specific general submission".

Know that where ever you are in your career and your year progress, there is no time better than right now to re-evaluate, reset, and revitalize! ✨

You got this! 🙌

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Streaming Updates: Netflix Massive Drop, Competitors On Alert; CNN+ Bows Out

News of Netflix's 200,000 subscriber lost in Q1 of this year sent shockwaves through the streaming landscape last week, as the industry giant remarked that the dip in users will most likely exceed 2 million by the end of Q2. The announcement prompted a staggering $54 billion drop in the streamer's market cap on Wednesday, with stocks dipping down 35% to $226.19 per share, their lowest point since January 2018. Co-CEOs Ted Sarandos and Reed Hastings pointed to multiple factors for the steep decline, including market oversaturation, choice fatigue, and Netflix's newest hill to fight on: Password sharing.

It's a sentiment shared by AT&T CEO John Stankey, who dealt his own blow with the shuttering of the maligned CNN+, just 32 days after the service launched. Stankey spoke candidly about the company's enforcement of password sharing on its star streaming service HBO Max, noting that they "gave customers enough flexibility but [they] don't want to see rampant abuse" of users sharing accounts and passwords. The botched launch of CNN+ and password pirates aside, AT&T and Warner Bros. Discovery (the fruits of the companies' merger on April 8th) enjoyed a strong Q1, reporting a 3 million subscriber increase from Q4 2021.

So what is the answer for Netflix, in an era of impossible choice and light-speed growth in competitors' digital libraries? Execs are reportedly eyeing up some uncharted territory for the streamer, acknowledging that a tiered, ad-supported plan or plans may be on the horizon, in an effort to lure back customers that have jumped ship for cheaper options. It's a worthy venture to explore: Rampant inflation across the globe has caused millions to reconsider expenses and cut costs wherever they can; recent numbers out of the UK suggest that over half a million viewers dropped their streaming services due to money concerns. March figures from Nielsen also suggested that overall TV viewership trended down slightly from February, but streaming still snapped up its high numbers ever. Sink or swim, Netflix. The time is now 👀

Festivals & Awards

After taking into account the far-reaching COVID cancellations, postponements, and call-outs in this year's Broadway landscape, the Tony Awards have made the decision to push back the eligibility cut-off from April 28th to May 4th, with nominations scheduled to be announced on May 9th rather than May 3rd. "Due to the challenges that Broadway has faced in recent weeks, and in an effort to allow nominators to see Tony eligible shows, we have decided to extend the deadline for eligibility requirements," ATG President and CEO Heather Hitchens and Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin wrote in a joint statement. This year's Tony Awards is still slated to take place on June 12th at Radio City Music Hall

Need a refresher on where the current Broadway awards landscape stand? Check out BroadwayWorld's round-up of timelines for the Tonys, Drama Desk Awards, and more 🏆

Cannes Film Festival officials added three new movies to the event's Competition lineup last week, along with a handful of other entries across the festival's various categories. Two of the three additions to the Competition field are projects helmed by female directors, breaking the record for women-led submissions in the running for the Palme d'Or. Numbers across the festival are also up for female directors, with nearly one in four selections featuring women in the director's chair.

The 35th annual Israel Film Festival will once again offer both in-person and virtual components for viewers this year, announcing last week that anyone interested in taking part in the event's online offerings can purchase tickets starting today. "I'm thrilled that the Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles is fully back for audiences to celebrate and support Israeli movies and their talented filmmakers," founder and executive director Meir Fenigstein said. This year's festival will feature 30 projects from Israeli film and television, including a slew of US and Los Angeles premieres for various selections in the event.

Tribeca Festival also announced its slate of premieres last week ahead of its New York event in June, with offerings from HBO Max, Hulu, ESPN, FX, and more scheduled to fill out the festival's lineup. Along with the event's traditional offerings, Tribeca will also welcome episodic works and audio storytelling selections for attendees to enjoy, rounding out an exciting 12 days of new content for the industry to enjoy.

With just over a month left in the eligibility period for this year's Emmy Awards, it's never too early to get a jump on how this year's field may shape up. Will the newest season of THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL maintain its grip over the Comedy Series categories, or will newcomers like the loveable TED LASSO finally stake their claim and snag the top spot? IndieWire as the breakdown of all things Emmys as we wrap up one of the busiest TV seasons to date 📅

Movie Theaters Enjoying Return to In-Person Viewing

The last few months have been a booming time for theaters, as more moviegoers start filling up viewing houses across the globe for spring picks like THE BATMAN and THE BAD GUYS. Early exit numbers have pointed to more youthful audiences leading this charge, with titles like THE NORTHMAN, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG, and BAD GUYS scooping up predominantly young eyes to push their earnings numbers well into eight-digit figures. Some industry analysts credit the lingering threat of COVID for the dip in older viewership, but many believe that word of mouth being spread about titles in the digital age among young moviegoers may signal a shift in studios' approach to advertising in the years ahead.

The recent shellshock of Netflix's drastic decline in subscribers over the last six months came as a sort of call-to-action for movie theater owners, as a deeper dive into the numbers proved that even though streaming is undoubtedly here to stay, viewers are still headed to the theater to catch the next big film. Episodics, limited series, and classic titles remain to be many streamers' bread and butter, and if these numbers prove anything, it's that partnerships with movie theaters for streamers' movie releases will continue to remain a critical step in the film's financial success.

AMC is banking on this robust return to the theaters to be just the beginning of a new age of cinema. The entertainment giant will be adding 3,500 state-of-the-art laser projectors to auditoriums throughout the US over the next four years, upping the ante for rivals like Regal and Alamo to provide equally high-quality viewing for their customers. The move is a part of a larger initiative to convince audiences that theaters continue to be the best place to see the next blockbuster - regardless of how comfy your living room couch might be 🛋 And the numbers are speaking for themselves: Fandango's recent poll of 6,000 moviegoers found that 83% of participants plan to see at least three movies in theaters this summer 😎

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The Refocus Project will officially enter its second season of operation through a partnership with Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater. Conceived and run by Roundabout Theatre Company, the initiative seeks to support and empower underrepresented voices in the theatre community, first partnering with Black Theatre United to highlight Black playwrights from the 20th century. This year's program will focus on stories from Latinx playwrights, culminating in a reading series at both theater's spaces this summer.

ALL RISE was honored with the 2022 SeeHer Programming Award last week, which highlights work done by "a primetime program that pushes boundaries on changing stereotypes and recognizes the importance of women and girls in media." The show, originally canceled by CBS before being picked up and renewed by Oprah's OWN, featured Simone Missick as Judge Lola Carmichael, a storyline that OWN execs noted "reflect[s] our audience with powerful affirmation."

CBS Studios announced the creation of two initiatives aimed at increasing representation in both films and casting, providing mentorship and monetary support for the selected individuals. The casting fellowship will provide opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds the chance to gain hands-on experience behind the casting table while working alongside casting execs on upcoming projects. Meanwhile, the CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge will make space for 35 up-and-coming creators to showcase their work in short film projects that speak to their missions as artists.

Auli'i Cravalho has had enough of Disney's wishy-washy stance on allyship in the last few months. The MOANA star recently told IndieWire that not only should Disney be apologizing for its botched stance on the Florida Don't Say Gay bill, it should be using its global positioning to support the LGBTQIA+ community. "It's important that they be on the right side of history and listen," Cravalho said. "Instead of trying to play the safe role and take a step back, take a step forward. Step up. Step up and say what's right and what's wrong." It's a sentiment shared by many in the industry in the wake of CEO Bob Chapek's muddled statements on the Florida bill, which continues to be a hot-button topic for viewers and analysts alike.

An exciting award season may lie in store for ABBOTT ELEMENTARY's Quinta Brunson, who is currently staring down nominations for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, Lead Actress in a Comedy and Outstanding Comedy Series in this year's Emmys. If Brunson were indeed to receive nominations in all three categories, she would become the first Black woman to receive three nods for a comedy series. The highly-acclaimed series on ABC has received top marks on Rotten Tomatoes and enjoyed a 300% ratings jump since its pilot aired in December.

Industry Intel: Pilot Season Shifting, PATPA Gaining Support

Los Angeles Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer noted last week that the entertainment industry accounted for 20% of all COVID cases in the county during last week's briefing on the ever-changing infection landscape in LA. While the news seems daunting on its face, Ferrer reminded officials that this high water mark in numbers for the week can most likely be attributed to the industry's robust screening and testing protocols, which have remained in place as studios across the country push forward through the busy spring season.

As pilot season draws to a close, we're finally receiving a somewhat-reliable picture of what new network content may look like in the years ahead. This season's order totals came in at a paltry low-30's mark, with many studios expressing interest in greenlighting projects outside the traditional January-May window, and everyone eyeing up how their content will slot in with any in-house streaming capabilities available. Upfronts are still ahead in May, but it's already clear that the once-set-in-stone spring programming schedule is in for a rude awakening in the age of streaming 📺

The cancellation and revamp of the Humana Festival of New American Plays continues to be mourned across the industry - American Theatre Magazine took some time to reflect on the event's decades of history, and the opportunities it presented to thousands of artists since its inception in 1976 🎭

Industry advocates continue to push Congress to pass the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act (PATPA), which would effectively expand the type of deductions that artists can take on unreimbursed business expenses, reversing a portion of the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act that shut out performers from applying these deductions on their tax returns. Actors' Equity Association President Kate Shindle was the latest to speak out in support of the bill: "With a record number of supporters and cosponsors for PATPA, there is no better time for Congress to pass this legislation and restore tax fairness for middle-class arts workers across the country."

The first Summer for the City festival will take place this summer in New York City, sponsored by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The group announced a lineup of more than 1000 artists and 300 events that will rally around the fest's three core principles: Rejoice, Reclaim, Remember. "We all seek a remedy for the upheaval and pain of the past two years," President and CEO of LCPA Henry Timms said. "Art can help provide it: from group singalongs to celebrations of important milestones missed or truncated. We must empower ourselves to let joy back in, together."

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Dissecting the Process: Actors, Writers Weigh In

One of the many tools in an actor's work belt is the ability to inhabit various accents, and Viola Davis recently provided us with a masterclass in doing just that with her portrayal of Michelle Obama in Showtime's THE FIRST LADY. Dialect coach to the stars Joel Goldes sat down with Variety to talk about how Viola's preparation and research were critical in creating her take on the former First Lady, and the challenges of presenting a well-known public figure in a new series.

The New York Times Style Magazine featured two outstanding pieces last week, one from choreographer Raja Feather Kelly, and the other with acclaimed director Ivo van Hove. We all have our processes, and listening to both of theirs was an entertaining and intimate look into two exceptional artists. NYT also wrote a touching tribute to vocal coach Barbara Gustern, highlighting the impact she had on so many lives as both a teacher and a friend. Take some time to read them all this week:

There are few names more synonymous with casting than that of Jay Binder, a titan tasked with creating dozens of Broadway casts over the last few decades, and a sorely missed member of the New York theatre community. American Theatre Magazine remembered his life in a comprehensive look at what made Binder's process blissfully unique and unquestionably special.

If there's one thing that seemingly everyone in the industry has an opinion on, it's Method Acting. WE OWN THIS CITY and WOLF OF WALL STREET star Jon Bernthal is the latest to share his take on the process, noting that he believes actors "absolutely" abuse the core tenents of Method, leading to the stories we hear that give the process a bad name. "I guarantee you that making everybody call you by your character name and not showering for eight months was not what Stanislavski had in mind with the method," Bernthal mused, joining the growing chorus of Hollywood stars speaking out against the modern twist that Method Acting has taken.

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April 19, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

Last week, Annie and I had a great time talking about and answering your questions on Booking Theatre Work Post-Pandemic. With auditions moving full force, now is the time to take bold action. Do your research, create your hit list of plays/roles, find out what plays are most produced, and get ahead of the casting notice.

Stay tuned for info on our upcoming workshops. In the meantime, Up-To-Date Actor users can find one of our previously recorded workshops, Booking Film, TV, and Pilot Work. Once logged in, use the main navigation in the upper left corner to navigate to prior Workshops and Tutorials under our new Resources section!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Festivals & Awards

The 2022 Cannes Film Festival announced the lineup for this year's in-person event last week, welcoming dozens of exciting new works from across the world to the ceremony's historic slate in May. The 75th chapter of the coveted French cinema showing will kick off in just under a month and will feature highly-anticipated titles like Baz Luhrmann's Elvis biopic ELVIS and the Tom Cruise-led TOP GUN: MAVERICK. Early reports of the Festival's selections pointed to a drop in female-directed films, with only three of the 18 titles announced for the Competition portion being led by women behind the camera. Other areas of the event still have yet to unveil their participants, but overall numbers across all categories seem to point to a dip in female representation for the year.

A hybrid online and in-person event is set to take place for the 35th Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles beginning May 5th, preceded by a star-studded event on April 29th that will honor humanitarian David Wiener with the IF Humanitarian Award, and Henry Winkler with the IFF Career Achievement Award. "Henry Winkler is an exceptional artist that has used his talents both in front of and behind the camera to entertain audiences around the world," IFF founder and executive director Meir Fenigstein said. "His life and body of work is a benchmark that others aspire to for a career."

Looking to stay up to date on all the latest TV awards news throughout 2022? With so much content available for viewing across streaming and linear, Deadline recently dropped its new platform for interviews and industry panels on this year's most anticipated shows. Contenders Television will pull together a host of major studios and Hollywood A-listers to discuss the timelines of their upcoming projects, and any award season buzz down the line. Start working on those watch lists now! 📃

The Peabody Awards announced their nominees last week, highlighting exceptional stories across TV, new media, documentaries, and podcasts/radio. The 82nd ceremony will feature some of the most talked-about content of the last few months, including RESERVATION DOGS, COLIN IN BLACK & WHITE, ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING, and more. PBS took the lead with 13 nominations, with HBO landing eight, and Hulu and Netflix each at five apiece.

The 47th annual Gracie Awards crowned its winners last weekend, recognizing the exceptional on-screen work of women in TV, radio, cable, and other media. Shows like FX's POSE and MAID received accolades for their work, along with familiar faces like Melissa McCarthy and Elle Fanning scooping up individual awards. See the full list here! 🏆

Developments from Ukraine: TV Industry Seeking Support, Cannes Holding Ukraine Day

Media companies in Ukraine are reaching out to studios and networks across the globe to help sustain the country's TV landscape, launching a $20 million fund that will support the expansion of Ukrainian content early in production, in order to distribute the shows to a larger network once filming is complete. Ukrainian media exec Kateryna Vyshnevska hopes to gain the financial support of groups like BBC, Disney, and Netflix, describing it as a "win-win situation" that would both provide a lifeline to Ukrainian content creators, while showcasing their exceptional content around the world.

Cannes Film Festival is also set to host a Ukraine Day on May 21st to offer its support to filmmakers in the country, waiving all fees for the Ukraine pavilion and setting up tentative plans to bring 35 filmmakers and industry works from the country into the festival next month. Several programs in the festival will be focused on giving a voice to Ukrainian filmmakers, including the Goes to Cannes showcase for new works and the Producers Network program for networking among festival participants.

Netflix users in Russia have taken the streamer to court for suspending service in the country last month following the invasion of Ukraine. The company also announced it would pause all projects being produced in Russia, as well as turning down the country's demands to run propaganda on the platform. The plaintiffs in the class-action case are seeking around $730,000 USD for the loss of service in the country.

Theatre Updates: Mask Mandate Extended, Jay Binder Passing, BIPOC Director Database Expanding

The current mask mandates across Broadway have officially been extended through May 31st, but the League announced that many houses will no longer check vaccination statuses beginning May 1st. Theatre owners are urging all guests planning their spring and summer visits to check out the show and/or ticketing websites for specific requirements on each production before heading to the theater 🎭

The theatre industry lost a titan in the casting community last week with the passing of Jay Binder at the age of 71. The namesake for Binder Casting and responsible for casting nearly 100 Broadway productions during his 40+ years in the industry, Jay was a mainstay in the New York theatre scene and known by many for his inclusive spirit and love of theatre. He will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him and his impact on our industry 💙

Applications are now open for the 2022 Prince Fellowship program through Columbia University School of the Arts. Two winners will be selected to receive grants for $10,000 and $20,000 to develop a new stage production, along with mentorship and networking opportunities through the school. Applications close May 31st!

In the year since its inception on April 15th, 2021, the BIPOC Director Database has expanded from 221 contacts to 415, cataloging names of directors from underrepresented communities across the country and at all stages of their careers, from recent grads to Broadway alumni. While the increase in names is an encouraging sign for representation in the director's chair, the closure of developmental programs like the Humana Festival and the Lincoln Center Directors Lab still highlights a shrinking number of opportunities for up-and-coming diverse voices to showcase their work. Here's to hoping the full reopening of the theatre industry this year will once again expand opportunities for the voices in our community that need to be heard

Industry Intel

Participants for the 2022 Global Media Makers LA Residency were announced last week, highlighting some of the best and brightest upcoming talent in the film industry today. Sponsored by Film Independent and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the fellowship will provide 30 filmmakers from 11 different countries the chance to network with industry professionals, receive mentorship opportunities, develop their projects, and more. "Now more than ever, building a global community of artists is imperative to creating enriching opportunities for understanding diverse life experiences, and how transformative sharing those stories through 'moving' images can be for the world at large," Senior Director of Education & International Initiatives María Raquel Bozzi said.

AMC has officially seven of Bow Tie Cinema's movie theaters in upstate New York, Connecticut, and Annapolis, MD, totaling an additional 66 screens for the theater giant along the East Coast. Bow Tie is the oldest movie theater group in the US, having originally opened in 1900 and operating in states across the country. Company officials announced that the historic movie house is set to make a move further into the luxury cinema industry, while still continuing to operate standard viewing houses in NY, CT, VA, and more.

The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture has created a new partnership with Netflix to support the work of five female Arab filmmakers through a $250,000 grant, provided by the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity. Projects from Morocco, Lebanon, and Tunisia are currently shortlisted to receive the grant, spanning both fiction and non-fiction endeavors. "The Arab world has a long-standing history of women in entertainment, and we’ve had incredible successes and firsts from the region that we’re all very proud of," Netflix Content Acquisitions Director in Turkey and MENA Nuha el Tayeb said. "But in order to give more people a chance to see their lives reflected on screen, we need more women behind and in front of the camera."

Amazon-owned streamer IMDbTV rebranded last week to Amazon Freevee, which is... an interesting name choice, but kinda fun to say at least? The network has already announced a handful of original content coming up in the next few years, including BOSCH spinoff BOSCH: LEGACY and design series HOLLYWOOD HOUSELIFT WITH JEFF LEWIS. The move is the latest in a trend of premium streamers offering a free VOD option, much like the Paramount-owned Pluto TV and Peacock's Peacock Free. Because we definitely don't have enough streaming options these days 🤷‍♀️

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Currently Casting

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April 12, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

Annie and I are looking forward to discussing BOOKING THEATRE WORK POST-PANDEMIC later today with Actors Connection. We'll be talking about how you can get ahead of the EPA/casting notice and take bold action to book more theatre work. We'll also be discussing the latest trends from the return of in-person theatre auditions to permanent changes to the theatre industry. We'll also be showing you how you can use the Up-To-Date Actor to target specific plays/musicals and be notified of any new production or audition opportunity. And as always, we'll be answering any of your UTDA or career questions.

Hope you can join us! Create a great week! ✨

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Must Read

We wanted to shout out a friend of UTD Matthew Corozine on publishing his newest book, 'If You Survived 7th Grade, You Can Be an Actor'. Matthew is the founder of the Matthew Corozine Studio Theatre and has helped dozens of students in his studio excel in their craft and continue to work on their technique. He has been a longtime colleague, collaborator, and friend of Up-To-Date Theatricals. MCS has been a dynamic training ground for students at all levels to advance their craft and develop professional careers.

Recently, Annie had the opportunity to review pre-publishing excerpts and had this to say, "This book is brimming with creative insights to unlock and empower the artists within to live life more fully in everyday moments to performing center stage. It's rare to find such an accessible, doable approach to art. It's like Corozine can see you from the page." Check out this breakdown of Matthew's book! 📖

In-Person Events

Organizers for the 2022 Cannes Film Festival are expecting in-person attendance to return to nearly pre-COVID levels, with as many as 90% of industry representatives planning to view this year's submissions up close. Somewhere between 10,000-12,000 film professionals from around the group may descend on the event in France next month, marking an exciting return to live viewership for the festival circuit.

This year's upfronts are poised to help the industry roar back for the upcoming 22-23 TV season schedule, and execs for both studios and ad agencies alike are gearing up to spend big on programming for the next year. "The Upfront event remains a cornerstone moment to shine a light on our best and brightest content and IP. To get to do that in person this year and connect with everyone live is just incredible!," WarnerMedia's ad sales president JP Colaco said. Entertainment venues across NYC are carefully planning out presentation and after-party events that will witness hundreds of thousands of dollars change hands in ad revenue, staking the industry's claim as a triumphant return to in-person events in 2022.

TV Trends & Commercial Contracts

Streaming services have seen a jump in available titles over the last few years, 9with Nielsen reporting that over 817,000 titles are currently available between streaming platforms and standard TV offerings, a number that has grown 26% since December 2019. Unsurprisingly, streaming has increased overall by 18% since February of last year, while nearly half of the viewership surveyed in the February 2022 poll reported feeling overwhelmed by the offerings in this digital age. Interestingly - 64% of viewers said they wish there were more bundling options available among the main streamers. I'm JUST saying, I called this last year - tech is a circle, and soon we're going to start having cable-type bundles for streaming services. Mark my words! 🔮

SAG-AFTRA has reached a new agreement for commercial contracts with the ad industry's Joint Policy Committee last week, after the current set of guidelines expired on March 31st. The terms of the new deal have not yet been disclosed, as the contracts must now be voted on and approved by the union's national board. Stay tuned! 📃

Warner Bros Television has donated 150,000 meals to outreach organization Feeding America, coinciding with the first season finale of ABBOTT ELEMENTARY. The studio announced plans to partner with popular chefs Ahmad Alzahbi and Eitan Bernath through the remainder of this week, who will take to their social channels to prep the meals while spreading awareness of food insecurity in the US. ABBOTT ELEMENTARY follows the stories of an underfunded school in the Philadelphia school system, and has been an exciting stand-out on the network TV schedule this season.

Actors on Acting

Chris Pine is excited about where his career is headed in the next few years. The award-winning actor is making his directorial debut with POOLMAN, an idea devised with writing partner Ian Gotler, after following some conversations with famed director Patty Jenkins in which he decided that he would start to "follow the giggle." "I just followed the giggle and took the giggle to wherever it took me, and at the end of that giggle was me directing this film. It just seemed to be, well, yes, this is what I will be doing now," Pine said of his recent endeavors. May we all have the opportunity to work on and create projects that bring us joy 🌞

Getting back into the swing of things with in-person auditions? Check out this list of audition backpack must-haves 🎒

Every actor finds a different way to tap into their character and stay connected onstage or onset. For Jared Leto, his commitment to his recent portrayal of Marvel's MORIBUS even made its way to the bathroom. Multiple production team members confirmed that Leto requested using crutches during restroom breaks, leading to a deal being struck with the film crew that someone would wheel him to and from the bathroom during breaks. Whatever helps you stay in character, I suppose GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 actor Will Poulter, might disagree with some of Leto's approach. Poulter recently joined in the conversation on Method Acting stating "When it comes to an actor's process, whatever that is, so long as it doesn't infringe on other people's and you're being considerate, then fine. But if your process creates an inhospitable environment, then to me you've lost sight of what's important. Method acting shouldn't be used as an excuse for inappropriate behavior — and it definitely has."

Theatre in 2022

The theatre industry has gone through a world of changes over the last few years, to say the least. Virtual performances, full productions streaming from the comfort of your living room - if there's one thing we've always known about theatre, it's that it will always, always, find a way. Such is the wonderful nature of the art form, which has led to the emergence of works like the BRIDGERTON musical that have gone from simple sketches to Grammy-winning household names. Regardless of which side you land on for how these works should be perceived in an ever-changing virtual world, it's worth noting that the survival of any form of communication is the ability for it to transcend generations and reach new audiences. The rest, as we know, is history.

A particularly important role that onstage performance has taken on over the last few years has been its ability to help people heal, in a variety of different ways, from a variety of different experiences. It's a unique attribute of theatre; one that has been studied and developed for decades in the performance activism of Sanjay Kumar in India. Take a few minutes to read this excerpt about the history of Kumar's work in blending activism and live performance to heal audiences. It's an intricate look at the intimacy formed between audience and creator, examining our necessity to connect on a deeper level that only an in-person performance can provide.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Native American on-screen representation is getting a boost through a new partnership from the Native American Film Alliance and The Cherokee Nation Film Office. The alliance has gained support from major studios and the Motion Picture Association, with the goal of expanding Native American representation throughout the industry. "We have a talented community in need of exposure, access, and opportunity," Native American Media Alliance director of strategy Ian Skorodin said. "Our programming is helping get more Native American voices in front of the right people who can develop their content and build their careers."

A separate partnership between WarnerMedia Access and Rooster Teeth has set its sights on expanding representation in the digital content creation landscape. The Rooster Teeth Digital Creators Program hopes to reach new audiences by supporting and empowering up-and-coming digital creators from diverse backgrounds and giving them a platform to display their content moving forward. Creators interested in fields like comedy, animation, pop culture, and more are encouraged to apply - submissions are set to open in the coming months!

Coming on the heels of a historic Oscars night for the team behind CODA, representation for members of the deaf community in film and TV continues to increase, this time through one of the newest episodes of THE SIMPSONS. Deaf actor John Autry II voiced the character of Monk, who used American Sign Language to communicate on the show, a first in the cartoon's 30+ year history. "It's life-changing equality and participation," Autry said. "This can impact change for all of us. It's about hard of hearing and hearing characters coming together. It's a part of history."

Currently Casting

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April 05, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

It seems the news cycle took a breather last week after the large push leading up to the Oscars. On the flip side, Spring has always been the season of Regional Theatre auditions and it is so refreshing to see this cycle once again in full swing after a two-year hiatus. With AEA announcing a return to in-person auditions last week, the audition notices have been flooding in with a mix of virtual and location-specific auditions.

To help you navigate this Theatre Season, we're offering our BOOKING THEATRE WORK POST-PANDEMIC workshop next week. Register with Actors Connection for this free workshop. Come learn about the state of theatre post-pandemic and, more importantly, how you can get ahead of the casting notice and book more theatre work wherever you are located.

Spring has sprung! 🌷 Make the most of this energizing season!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Production Footprint

The film and TV markets in New York, Toronto, and the UK are growing at an impressive rate in the last few years, but Los Angeles still holds the top spot for most soundstage space in the industry. FilmLA, the city's permit office for filming, found that LA's 5.4 million square feet of sound stage real estate still edges out places like the UK at 4.7 million and New York at $2.4 million. Expansion, however, is occurring much quicker in New York, Ontario, and the UK, with these regions coming in at 33%, 43%, and 34% since 2019, respectively. Legislators in Georgia defeated a proposition that would have placed a $900 million annual cap on the state's robust film and incentive program last week, giving the state continued free reign to gain ground on other competitors vying for film business in the years ahead.

Industry Intel

After a recent aphasia diagnosis, Bruce Willis has made the decision to step away from acting in order to spend more time with his family and focus on his health. A cognitive disorder that affects motor function and speech, aphasia is typically caused by brain damage and can hinder the ability to communicate as well. "This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion, and support," Willis' daughter Rumer wrote in a joint statement. "We are moving through this as a strong family unit, and wanted to bring his fans in because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him."

The most recent West End production of LITTLE WOMEN is set to stream via BroadwayHD starting on April 21st. The show was filmed at the Park Theatre in the UK and will receive its exclusive premiere on the streaming service. Hooray for accessible theatre! 🎭

Media ratings giant Neilsen has officially been acquired by a private-equity firm for $16 billion, after a rocky last year that left many wondering about the future of the company's once-golden stamp on content. Execs from studios and ad groups have raised questions over how Nielsen had been tallying viewership under digital strategies, and are now scrambling to work with other rating companies ahead of this year's upfront presentations in May.

Have you been thinking about whether or not you should be building your own website, updating your existing one, or just sticking with a solid Actors Access page? Not to fear, Actors Connection guest writer and website designer Kristina Horan has a checklist just for you!

NYC indie film fans received a big win last week with the opening of Kim's Video Underground, a new spin on the once well-traveled Kim's Video that closed in 2014. Thanks to a new venture from Alamo Drafthouse, Kim's lives once more as a movie rental business with a library of over 55,000 VHS tapes and discs in Lower Manhattan, as a part of Alamo's new downtown location. "Today is a homecoming. Kim's Video is part of New York's historic film and indie culture," NYC Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Anne del Castillo said.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Following the release of this year's Hollywood Diversity Report from UCLA, advocacy group FWD-Doc is demanding that the survey's creators make strides to expand its range and include representation for members of the LGBTQIA+ and disabled communities. "UCLA's report that stands for promoting diversity is an egregious case of exclusion and perpetuates the misconception that people with disabilities do not exist in the entertainment industry," FWD-Doc co-founder Jim LeBrecht said. The report, now in its ninth year, serves as a benchmark for measuring representation for women and people of color in roles in front of and behind the camera in Hollywood.

The 2022 Concordia Fellowship recipients were announced last week, giving four up-and-coming filmmakers a slew of professional and artistic resources to chart out a future for their new projects. Created by Concordia Studio, which just came off an exciting award-season run for producing SUMMER OF SOUL, the fellowship seeks to empower creators from diverse backgrounds by providing them with career guidance, financing, and access to Concordia's facilities. Congrats to this year's class of fellows - Alice Gu, Christine Turner, Giselle Bailey, and Shalini Kantayya.

Elliot Page took to Twitter last week to announce that his UMBRELLA ACADEMY character, Vanya Hargreeves, will come out as transgender in the show's upcoming third season. Page posted a first-look photo of Viktor Hargreeves on his page last Tuesday, ahead of the new season dropping on June 22nd ☂️

The industry marked the annual Trans Day of Visibility last Thursday and Trans Week of Visibility and Action with an outpouring of love and support on social media - check out Playbill's wonderful video featuring Yael "YaYa" Reich, Ada Westfall, Hennessy Winkler and more! Ariana Grande also announced plans to donate $1.5 million to a handful of organizations that support and empower transgender individuals, in response to the rise of anti-trans legislation currently being debated in state governments throughout the country.

Oscars Fallout Continues

Will Smith continues to navigate rough waters after slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars in late March, issuing the comedian an apology this week and saying he was "out of line" in his actions. Social media continues to be ablaze with opinions on the incident from across the industry, with a growing cohort of comedians coming to Rock's defense - "Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters," Kathy Griffin tweeted. Smith has since announced that he is resigning from the Academy ahead of a full disciplinary investigation hearing on April 18th, after both the Academy and SAG-AFTRA publicly condemned the behavior last week.

Currently Casting

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Theatre

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Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

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March 29, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

I'm sure you are well aware of the incidents and outcomes of Sunday's Oscars, but in case you've been living under a rock for the past 36 hours, we've gathered some of the comments, criticism, and takeaways from Hollywood's annual celebration. With another awards season coming to a close, look for the news cycle to return to announcements on production and projects in development. The next major benchmark will be news on upfronts in early May.

Mark your calendars, our next free workshop will be BOOKING THEATRE WORK POST-PANDEMIC on April 12th. Hope you can join us!

Create a great week!!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Academy Awards 2022: CODA Wins Big, Classic Movie Reunions, Some Surprises, and an Altercation

Sunday's 94th annual Academy Awards was.... an interesting one, to say the least. The night had its usual bells and whistles: red carpet royalty, predicted winners and unexpected surprises, bumbling host banter that has become all-too customary at award shows in recent years. CODA took home the top prize of the night in Best Picture, the first movie from a streamer and the first Sundance movie to land filmmaking's highest-lauded honor in the award show's nearly century-long run. The prize was an exciting success story for an indie-film-turned-commercial-success for sure, but it was also an incredible step forward for representation in the deaf community, alongside Troy Kotsur's win for Best Supporting Actor. Check out the full list of winners here

If you've been on social media in any form over the last 36 hours, you've undoubtedly seen that the night was overshadowed by Will Smith smacking Chris Rock, after Rock made a comment about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The spectacle shocked viewers in the room and around the world, as Smith could be seen and heard yelling further comments at Rock after returning to his seat. Smith went on to take home the Best Actor prize for his work in KING RICHARD, apologizing to the Academy for the incident and drawing parallels between his character's journey in the film and his own as a father and husband. The Academy was swift to condemn Smith's actions on its Twitter account, as well as SAG-AFTRA, joining a growing chorus on social media calling for further consequences for the actor. At present Chris Rock has declined to file any charges after the incident. new conversation on the safety of stand-up comedians. UPDATE: Will Smith has since issued an apology to Chris Rock

Aside from the night's main talking point of Smith and Rock's altercation, this year's Oscars did little to instill confidence in the future of award shows as a whole. Many of the presentations were disjointed and laced with goofy one-liners, and while the reunions of stars from THE GODFATHER, JUNO, PULP FICTION were fun to watch, and the night didn't wrap with its fair share of high moments, many felt that the bulky presentation, already under fire for cutting down a significant number of presentation categories for the night, was the latest in a long line of stagnant award shows with declining viewership. I love celebrating movies and the work that so many in the industry put in each year, but it will be interesting to see how the presentations will change to keep up with shifting perspectives in the years ahead.

Pilot Season & UpFronts

The bleak outlook for network pilots continues to be a topic of much discussion around the industry, as studio heads and ad execs gear up for a full return to in-person upfronts this year after conducting their showcases virtually over the last several seasons. A familiar face will also be strangely absent from this year's upfronts, at least at the start: Nielsen, which typically serves as the financial backbone of the buying season in providing its ratings for each show, lost its accreditation last fall after admitting to undercutting viewership at the height of the pandemic, and has since been scrambling to find its footing and regain confidence in the industry. The content itself, meanwhile, remains at its lowest point in decades, with only 35 pilots being ordered as of last week, a swift downturn from the 60 ordered in 2020. Fox has notably not picked up a single new order, with president Michael Thorn remarking that the studio is "increasingly committing to more script or straight-to-series orders." The next few months will be interesting, to say the least 👀

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

UCLA released the ninth iteration of its Hollywood Diversity Report last week, which takes a deep dive into on-camera representation over the last decade, and the last effects that it has on the box office and beyond. This year's report spoke to the relationship between blockbuster movies and viewership from people of color, noting that many highly-successful movies over the last 10 years found their way to the top of the box office thanks to moviegoers from these communities. "Last year, every time a big movie exceeded expectations or broke a box office record, the majority of opening weekend audiences were people of color," report co-author Ana-Christina Ramón said. "Studios should consider them to be investors, and as investors, they should get a return in the form of representation."

Disney continues to feel the backlash from their financial support of and botched response to Florida's Don't Say Gay bill after employees staged a full walkout last week in protest of the company's half-baked plan of action against the bill. In promoting his latest film Moon Knight, Oscar Isaac became the latest star to speak out in support of Disney's walkout organizers: "It's an absolutely ridiculous law. It's insane. It's insanity. And I hope that Disney as a company comes out as forcefully as possible against this idea." Isaac's charge to Disney speaks to a much bigger issue within the company: While CEO Bob Chapek has been making a case for Disney to keep pushing for more representation of the LGBTQ+ community in its content, the truth of its messaging seems clear - reports of a queer storyline being omitted from recent project LUCA, Josh Gad's LeFou in the 2017 BEAUTY AND THE BEAST receiving a one-note nod to his sexuality. Disney wants to seem like it's making strides towards inclusivity, but the results have been shaky at best, if they make it past the editing room at all.

The Geena Davis Institute has put together a new test for measuring representation for Muslim women onscreen, with the hope of pushing representation for the community past the tired tropes that we have become so accustomed to seeing. The new initiative - "From 'Surviving' to Thriving" - will grade Muslim representation on a scale from A to F, having been developed in partnership with Pillars Funds and Muslim Casting, and promoted by media group Muslim Girl. "We are starting to see more nuanced portrayals of Muslim women on screen and would like to keep this momentum going by using the test to elevate the stories that are getting it right and calling out those who are still getting it wrong," Muslim Casting founder Serena Rasoul said.

Representation among Southeast Asian women in front of and behind the camera is also on the rise, with a panel of female filmmakers from the region speaking to the further action that streamers and studios can take to ensure that women-centric stories are being promoted in Southeast Asian cinema. Speakers for the presentation put on by Netflix Asia said that companies have a dual responsibility to promote accurate images of the community throughout the world, while still making sure that access is being granted to filmmakers and creators from all walks of life in the region itself. "The world has changed a lot and storytelling has also changed," producer Tanya Yuson said. "Where this is going, is still a long fight."

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Industry Intel

Cinephiles are about to have a whole new caliber of films to gawk over: Jordan Peele and Christopher Nolan are partnering with IMAX to develop a new series of cameras, with the first due to arrive in late 2023. The partnership will also rope in team members from Panasonic, Kodak and FotoKem to create an entirely new system of film capture, processing, and maintenance, along with updating many current IMAX cameras with new lens and mechanics. "IMAX is movie magic pushed to its limit," Peele said. "It's complete immersion, and there's nothing quite like it."

Artists throughout Russia and Ukraine continue to grapple with the current state of their countries' conflict, with many being displaced or voluntarily deciding to leave in the hopes of escaping the continued attacks throughout Ukraine. Russian actress Chulpan Khamatova, known throughout Russia and the international film circuit for her work on films like GOODBYE, LENIN! and THE WHITE CROW, recently sought refuge in neighboring Latvia, saying that country officials would only allow her to return if she publicly apologized for not supporting Putin's actions, or denied that a war was taking place.

For the first time since the pandemic began, Broadway has released the full weekly grosses for earnings on all of its shows, speaking to the strength of the industry at a time when many are cautiously optimistic that a spring and summer rebound could be imminent. In the week ending March 20th, many of Broadway's mainstays - WICKED, Hamilton, Aladdin - have returned to mostly-as-expected weekly earnings, a positive sign that NYC's tourism industry may once again be on the rise. Here's to hoping the numbers just keep climbing

Last week was also an exciting time for our friends at the Drama Bookshop, who announced that for the first time in the store's 104 year history, much of its catalog will be available via an online store 📚 The shop will still feature staff picks, new play recommendations, and rotating monthly themes, all shipping worldwide. Visit the site now and check out everything they have to offer!

Have you ever dreamed of auditioning for the Rockettes? A casting call for the historic organizations' 2022 Christmas Spectacular will take place on Monday, April 18th at Radio City Music Hall, with a renewed emphasis of greater representation in the show. "We are committed to ensuring that The Rockettes line showcases greater diversity, and that dancers from all backgrounds see themselves represented," said Jessica Tuttle, SVP of Rockettes parent company MSG Entertainment. The time to join the line is now 👠

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Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson's History of Theatre

If you've been watching the confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson over the last week, you've been able to see her impressive resume and list of credentials that have positioned her as the next potential member of the Supreme Court. What you may not have known, however, is that she also took part in several stage productions during her tenure at Harvard, along with participating in an improv group called On Thin Ice. Jackson's stage credits include LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, as well as a turn as Billy Holiday in a self-written production called YESTERDAY. Apparently, she was also partnered with Matt Damon during a scene study class? I'm just saying, I think we need a Supreme Court encore performance someday

Actors on Acting

Nicholas Cage is speaking out against comments made by his legendary filmmaking uncle Francis Ford Coppola, who recently took aim at the institution of superhero films by saying that they carbon copy plotlines and make them "over and over to look different." Cage, who has taken his own turn in the comic book-to-film pipeline in the GHOST RIDER movies, said that he didn't agree with the perspective that Marvel-type movies were stealing theater space from more deserving, smaller budget, movies in recent years. "What could be wrong with wholesome entertainment that is appealing to the parents and the children, and gives people something to look forward to?" Cage said. "I just, I don't see what the issue is."

The Hollywood Walk of Fame welcomed its newest member last week in Morris Chestnut, the BOYZ N THE HOOD star that has enjoyed a lengthy career sharing the screen with Cuba Gooding Jr., Taye Digs, and Nia Long. His advice to actors? Keep studying. "I always ask young actors, 'What's your background? Did you take any classes?' That's what I tell them most of the time: Study and get the foundation because once you get that, you'll always be around and you'll always have opportunities. When you do get that big break, you're ready for it."

Any SOPRANOS fans may know a certain episode of season six featured a quick appearance by none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda, who had a two-line feature as a hotel bellhop with series star James Gandolfini's Tony Soprano. Miranda's memory of the late actor was beaming: "My one story about Gandolfini was that he stayed and did his sides even though it was the end of the night. He had no need to do that," Miranda said of his time onset. "He stayed and did the scene for the scared-shitless Puerto Rican kid in the bellhop outfit." Everyone has to start somewhere!

Quick Bites

She's been a presidential nominee, Secretary of State, and now.... an actress? Hilary Clinton has been cast in Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production of INTO THE WOODS as The Giant, an off-stage voiceover role, running April and May in the state where she spent a good chunk of her early political tenure. Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor! 🐄

Looking for some theatre-inspired recipes to play with this week? Playbill celebrated World Theatre Day on Sunday by sharing some of its favorite concoctions from all-around Broadway 🥧

YouTube has added over 5,500 TV episodes and movies to its streaming library, looking to stay in competition in the AVOD sphere among the likes of Crackly, Roku, and others. Top titles include LEGALLY BLONDE, GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS, HELL'S KITCHEN, and more 📺

We're in an age of adaptations, from podcasts to books to public trials and more 🎬 Check out this list of upcoming book-to-series content coming this year!

THE OFFICE lovers, rejoice! Cast members Jenna Fisher and Angela Kinsey will be presenting a one-night-only book event for their upcoming title "The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There" on May 18th at NYC's Town Hall. The event will be presented in partnership with The Strand bookstore - grab your tickets now! 📚

Currently Casting

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Projects in Development

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March 22, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

We have so appreciated the amount of positive feedback for our newly launched Resources Section! We are happy you are finding this informational feature helpful in your process of writing and refining your cover letters, follow-up notes, resume, and more! As promised last week, we have also added a new page, Industry FAQs. This page can help you connect the dots and answer some of your industry related questions. Learn how to take better action on the extensive information provided on the Up-To-Date Actor and get your newly refined marketing tools in front of the right people. We will be continuing to add quetions & answers over the next few weeks, so check back often for more info.

As always, please let us know if you have questions on this or any other UTDA feature.

Create a great week!!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Awards Season: PGA, WGA Crown Winners, Academy Awards Approach

It's hard to believe how quickly we're reaching the end of award season 2022 🏆 With virtually all other major award shows behind us - SAG Awards, DGAs, BAFTAs - the only looming presence in the award landscape that remains is, of course, the 2022 Academy Awards.

The WGAs announced their winners over the weekend, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence's DON'T LOOK UP taking home the top Original Screenplay prize, and SUCCESSION scooping up Best Drama Series. The PGAs also doled out its awards on Saturday evening, with CODA nabbing the top Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures award, seen by many as a reliable bellwether of the Oscars Best Picture winner each year. On the technical side of things, the Guild of Music Supervisors handed over a host of awards to HBO's THE WHITE LOTUS and LOVECRAFT COUNTRY for outstanding work in music supervision, along with TICK, TICK... BOOM, ENCANTO, and others.

And so we come to Oscars week. It's been a huge year for movies, as traditional studios and streaming giants continue to duke it out for top spots in every award ceremony, and it's now anyone's guess how Sunday may turn out. For those of us watching at home this weekend, we have to keep it interesting at least though, right? Rotten Tomatoes updated its yearly at-home ballot last week, so grab some popcorn and tune in this Sunday at 8 PM EST to see what movies bring home the industry's top prizes this year

Equity Reinstates In-Person Auditions

Actors' Equity Association took a huge step in the phases of COVID reopening last week, announcing that in-person auditions would be returning effective immediately, though Equity audition centers still remain closed across the country. Producers/employers may now hold in-person calls as they see fit, though they will be responsible for running all aspects of the audition, as well as adhering to the new requirements set forth by the union. All auditioners will be checked for symptoms upon arrival and must either provide a negative PCR test from within 48 hours prior, full vaccination status, or two negative COVID tests, one within a few hours of the audition. Equity is set to review these protocols at the end of May. Considering a recent NEA study found that GDP contribution from arts workers fell a staggering 73% between 2019 and 2020 from COVID, it's an exciting thought that audition rooms will be (safely) bustling once more!

2022 Humana Fest Canceled; Organizers Eyeing Future Revamp

The Actors Theatre of Louisville made waves last week, announcing it will not hold its highly-anticipated Humana Fest this year, choosing to explore a new model to celebrate the work of up-and-coming artists. While some have questioned the future of the Festival of New American Plays after recent word that the event's sponsor, the Humana Foundation, maybe moving away from its support of the arts, organizers claim that the move is being made "independent" of any consideration from the Foundation. "The transformation of how we support and share new work is part of the larger evolution in our strategic vision," ATL executive AD Robert Barry Fleming said. "In order to uplift, celebrate, and expand the tremendous legacy of the festival, it is necessary to reimagine a 21st-century model that is sustainable, equitable, and radically accessible, in alignment with our mission and values as an arts and culture organization as social enterprise."

Ukraine Conflict: Sanctions Continue, Theater Attacked

Beyond its continued unprecedented military operations throughout Ukraine, Russia continues to lash out at the country in any way it can, announcing last week that any film and TV from Ukrainian producer Alexander Rodnyansky and President Volodymyr Zelensky would be banned from viewing in Russia, claiming the content "does not contribute to the implementation of decisions taken by the country leaders." Rodnyansky remained adamant that he would continue to push forward with his work, warning that the sanctions would only serve to hurt emerging Russian directors and producers that he has been planning to work with previously.

The carnage of Russia's assault on Ukraine has shown no signs of slowing in the last week - in the city of Mariupol, an airstrike destroyed the historic Donetsk Regional Drama Theatre that was housing hundreds of civilians at the time. With a history dating back to 1847, the theatre served as a cultural hub for the area, with the Mariupol city council saying Russia's attack "purposefully and cynically destroyed" the space that was sheltering its citizens.

Mourning the dead: Ukraine lost one of its most well-known actresses to a rocket attack in Kyiv: Oksana Shvets, a troupe member of the Young Theater and recipient of some of the country's highest cultural honors, was killed when her residential building was attacked in the city last week. Lastly, Ukrainian ballet dancing star Artem Datsyshyn has died, three weeks after being injured in Russian shelling in Kyiv, he was 43.

Streaming Update

A tectonic shift in the streaming landscape was finalized last week with the closing of Amazon's $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM, a move originally announced in May of last year that has since undergone heavy scrutiny by both industry and government analysts to ensure its legality. The European Union's antitrust regulator has since signed off on the deal, and with no formal complaints being filed by the FTC here in the states, Amazon will officially become the owner of the MGM library and titles. "MGM has a nearly century-long legacy of producing exceptional entertainment, and we share their commitment to delivering a broad slate of original films and television shows to a global audience," senior VP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios Mike Hopkins said. With their recent interest in expanding their global production footprint in Scotland and beyond, it's safe to say Amazon is doing all it can to claim the top spot among the embattled streaming landscape 👑

Netflix, meanwhile, is working on a pilot program that would charge users an extra fee to share their passwords with users outside their households. Currently in the pilot stages and ready to launch in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru, the updated feature would allow users to share passwords "easily and securely, while also paying a bit more." Considering Netflix now holds subscriptions with about half of all eligible households in the world, it will be interesting to see if the missive will be expanded to more markets in the months ahead. Beware, password sharers of the world! 🔐

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

British TV network ITV will increase its funding for underrepresented community storylines over the next three years with the creation of its Diversity Commissioning Fund. An estimated $105 million will be made available to fund to support minority-led content, including special provisions for production companies led by individuals from those communities. "ITV is committed to creating content by, with, and for everyone, connecting and reflecting modern audiences," ITV group director of diversity and inclusion Ade Rawcliffe said. "We want more people of color and disabled people to be able to tell their stories and get opportunities in senior production roles."

As Disney continues to clean-up the fallout of its botched response to Florida's Don't Say Gay bill, Marvel Studios has thrown its support behind those denouncing the bill, pledging to "continue [their] strong commitment as allies who promote the values of equality, acceptance, and respect." Walkouts in support of the LGBTQ+ community took place at Disney campuses last week after CEO Bob Chapek's tepid response to the legislation, choosing to initially walk a path of least resistance rather than taking a stance against the bill in its entirety.

A petition to suspend performances of a new musical based on the story of Emmett Till has gained more than 12,000, with the hope of canceling the show that petition creator Mya Bishop makes "the racially motivated brutal torture and murder of a 14-year-old child about [the playwright's] white self and her white feelings." EMMETT TIL, A NEW AMERICAN OPERA writer Clare Cross responded to the issues raised by Bishop in her petition, saying that the choice to create the story with a white, female protagonist is meant to be "told from the viewpoint of one who recognizes that staying silent, instead of confronting a vicious system, allows the dehumanization of human beings to be a way of life." As of Sunday, the show is still scheduled to open at John Jay College tomorrow evening.

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Women in Media: Supporting New Works, Political Updates, Age in the Business

Google, in partnership with Women in Film, has announced the recipients of the inaugural WIF Shorts Lab, which will provide five women the opportunity to finish production on their short films. Alongside funding supported by Google, the Lab will also allow the up-and-coming filmmakers a chance to network and develop their skills with experts in the industry. "Short films are a critical tool for advancing filmmakers' careers, though they can be a challenge to resource, especially for people underrepresented in the field," WIF Director of Programs Maikiko James said. Women in film unite! 🎬

Meanwhile, on the stage side of things, the Broadway Women's Alliance recently celebrated its second anniversary and is now gearing up for its 2022 docu-series HERE'S TO THE LADIES WHO, which aims to chronicle the role of women in jobs throughout the theatre community during COVID. "Part of the reason for this series is so that generations of women in the future know what we went through," co-founding member Diana Salameh said. "And we can continue to be connected by that experience, learn from that experience." "BroadwayWorld's popular series THE AGING INGENUE has been bringing listeners weekly installations of Claire, a Broadway star tackling motherhood and growing older, and this week featured a panel of surprise guests! Listen to Ashley Blanchet, Kate Baldwin, and more discuss their own experiences in the industry, and what being an ingénue means to them 💃

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Industry Intel

There were a bunch of clusters of topics that cropped up through the week last week from all around the industry that we wanted to bring to you in a little different format - let us know what you think!

Production has continued to be on the rise as more states and country relax their COVID protocols and begin welcoming film teams from the world over to start shooting in their areas 🌎

As the production boom continues around the globe, movie theaters are hedging their bets on a resurgence in in-person viewership heading into the spring and summer months. What does that mean for moviegoers returning to the box office since pre-COVID days? Higher ticket prices, upgraded theaters, and maybe down the line... some new IMAX cameras?

Broadway mourned the loss of well-known vocal coach Barbara Maier Gustern last week after a senseless attack on the streets of New York City left her in a coma, before passing away at Bellevue Medical Center the next morning. An unidentified woman shoved Gustern to the ground and walked off - the NYPD has since released footage of a suspect and is asking anyone with information to come forward. Our hearts are with Barbara's family this week 💙

Update:This morning, Lauren Pazienza, 26, of Port Jefferson, Long Island, New York, turned herself in to New York police and will be charged with manslaughter and assault.

Another round-up of actors on acting this week:

And of course - some Quick Bites!

Currently Casting

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Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


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March 15, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

Today is a big day here at UTDA. We are so excited to announce the launch of a brand new feature — Resources! It might not sound too sexy, but we have been this is something we get asked about a lot in our workshops. We have been working on a tiered structure to provide you with examples, tips, and advice on how to best develop some of the most essential marketing tools.

The Up-To-Date Actor Resources Section is a 3-tiered accessibility structure that provides you career insights at each level.

Tier 1 (Trial Subscription)

  • Detailed overview of Marketing Tools, Resumes, Cover Letters, Follow-Ups from Annie's forthcoming career-building book
  • List of companies providing reel services
  • Industry FAQs (coming soon)

Tier 2 (Paid Subscription)

  • All of Tier 1
  • Resume credits categories & role definitions
  • One real-world example of resume, agent submission cover letter, casting director submission cover letter, and follow-up cover letter
  • Suggested wording example of various follow-up note scenarios

Tier 3 (Annie's Clients)

  • All of Tier 1 & 2
  • Headshot Photographer, Acting School, and Private Coaching recommendations
  • Over 30 real-world examples of resumes, agent submission cover letters, casting director submission cover letters, and follow-up cover letters

You can find this new feature from the main navigation in the upper left corner as well as our comprehensive nationwide database of 15,000+ industry contacts. We hope you find this new feature informative and helpful! And as with any Up-To-Date Actor feature, if you have a suggestion please don't hesitate to reach out via email info@uptodateactor.com

Create a great week!!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Actors on Acting

We've been so excited by the incredible soaring success that UTD client Dominique Fishback has been enjoying over the last few years, and the release of THE LAST DAYS OF PTOLEMY GREY is the latest in an impressive line of accomplishments that Dom has put under her belt. Coming off her awesome work as Deborah Johnson in JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH, Dom is now starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson in the newly launched Apple TV+ limited series, an opportunity that she wanted to hit the ground running with from the start. "[W]ith this particular role, I was like, am I prepared to go there? Because any project that I do, I wanna make sure that I'm prepared to go there, that I don't leave any stone unturned." Congrats Dom!

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is set to release another historic interview from its vaults, this time featuring a vintage Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince. The duo discusses their work on A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, COMPANY, and more, marking the first time the interview will stream for viewing outside of the NYPL network. Tune in next Tuesday at 5:30 PM EST!

For any HALO fans out there, the star of the game's upcoming live-action adaptation Pablo Schreiber wants you to know he's doing his best to honor the two-decade-old character's beloved, yet widely anonymous origin. "There's this expectation because a huge portion of the audience has played the game believing they are the Master Chief," Schreiber said. "And now here I am, attempting to play it." The series star spoke with IndieWire about both the artistic and physical demands of the role, noting that the character's iconic suit, meant to make him "superhuman", is really just "50 pounds of plastic" being carried around on set. The magic of Hollywood at its finest! ✨

Disney Under Fire

The House of Mouse continues to cover its tracks after news of the company's support of anti-LGBTQ+ politicians in Florida came to light last week, adding more fuel to the fire as the state moves forward with its horrendous "Don't Say Gay" bill. CEO Bob Chapek backtracked on his original statement last week that taking a stance on the bill may prove "counterproductive," as thousands of employees and folks across the internet took him to task for not taking a stronger stance against the legislation. Chapek later admitted that he should have been "a stronger ally" to the community, which gained some support from the Disney acting trenches, but a critical lens remains on the company in the weeks ahead. Disney officials continue to explore additional sanctions against Russia in support of Ukraine, a move supported by many in the industry amid growing calls for organizations around the world to do the same, but the company's botched response to the Florida legislation still hangs heavy in the minds of fans and employees alike.

Award Season: Critics Choices, BAFTA's Name Winners

It was a busy weekend in the awards landscape, as both the Critics Choice and BAFTA's crowned their winners across film and TV. Jane Campion's THE POWER OF THE DOG continued its tear with two more trips to the podium for Best Picture at each ceremony, after securing a win for Theatrical Feature Film Prize at the DGA Awards last week. TED LASSO and SUCCESSION won big on the BAFTA side with four and three wins, respectfully, and DUNE scooped up five wins in the Critics Choice craft categories. While many nominees did not attend every ceremony this year, it's starting to feel slightly back to normal in the awards landscape these days. With less than two weeks until Oscars night, the industry lies in wait to see who will come up big on March 27th 👀🏆

Industry Intel

One of the bright spots in the long and difficult road to Broadway reopening has been the outpouring of love and support for understudies, swings, and covers by members of the industry. These roles have always been known to us as the backbone of any live performance, and with so many across the Great White Way going on in their lead roles over the last few months, it's about time those outside the theatre bubble come to understand just how much work these artists put in to keep shows running. Check out these behind-the-scenes stories, from Broadway and beyond, just to get a taste for the crazy, exciting, and challenging world of understudies and swings.

Here's a bit of nostalgia for you: Scholastic is teaming up with representatives of ABC's ABBOTT ELEMENTARY to bring free book fairs to schools this week! Students at underfunded schools around the country will receive free books, and teachers will be provided with supplies, books, and merch from the show. Oh to be back in elementary school and racing down the hall to grab the latest Captain Underpants novel.... 📚

Honestly, I've been thinking this ever since the last season of GAME OF THRONES aired in 2019, and I'm so glad someone is finally talking about it: Why are shows and movies so DARK now? Variety took a deep dive and came up with a few solutions: firstly, how you're viewing content at home matters. TV's smoothing and brightness capabilities have increased exponentially in the last 10 years, and not always to the credit of the content, according to one visual editor. Other times, it's truly the artistic vision of the film crew: The cinematographer that shot the night battle scenes in GOT final scene has previously weighed in on the topic, saying that the darkness was necessary (apart from, you know, it being nighttime) in order to differentiate from other points in the series. I don't know, I'm just trying to watch shows and movies without pulling all the curtains in the middle of the day 🤷‍♀️

After a years-long hiatus, another theatre mainstay will officially make its triumphant return: The Broadway Bares/Equity Fights AIDS red buckets! Broadway and Off-Broadway shows will join forces with tours around the country to raise donations for BCEFA through the end of April. Proceeds will help provide housing, meals, health care, and more to The Actors Fund and other service groups. So happy to see those red buckets back at the theatre 🤩

Hollywood remembered the life of cameraman John Lindley last week, who tragically passed away 25 years ago in a car accident after falling asleep at the wheel at the end of a 19-hour work shift - having already worked four 15 hour days earlier that week. Lindley's death cause an uproar in Hollywood, leading to a petition to mandate shorter workdays that gained over 10,000 signatures. The unfortunate reality: Long days on set have not become a thing of the past since Lindley's death in 1996, with the most recent IATSE strike focusing in part on creating a more manageable workday for union members moving forward.

In lieu of an Oscars party this year, talent agency WME will instead opt to donate $1 million to UNICEF, in an effort to support the humanitarian crisis currently being faced by families in Ukraine and other areas of the world affected by war. The group has a slew of clients in the Oscar race this year, including Denzel Washington, Guillermo del Toro, and Kenneth Branagh.

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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Following the advancement of a handful of disturbing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in Florida and other states around the country in the last few weeks, advocacy group GLAAD has announced it will begin grading studios on their political donations and other involvement in LGBTA+ support and content development. "Corporations need to be held accountable for funding politicians that harm LGBTQ people, including their own employees, and for inaction on legislation that they can help defeat," GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said. The new metric will be added to the group's Studio Responsibility Index, which analyzes each major studio's overall representation of the LGBTQ+ community year-over-year. The 2022 report is set to be released this summer.

Actors' Equity has released its newest DEI hiring bias report, which catalogs the job landscape demographic for Equity actors and stage managers, along with their pay rates in 2020. The results? Not promising. Men are still out-earning women for the same work volume, contracts for members of underrepresented communities only increased a few percentage points, since 2016, and white members are still earning the most across the union. "We are disappointed by the realities of the data," AEA president Kate Shindle said of the findings. "While there was some incremental progress here and there in 2020, the theatre fell far short of fulfilling its promises of diverse and inclusive hiring.

Over the weekend, Broadway on Demand streamed the 2022 National Deaf High School Theatre Festival, which featured entries from nearly a dozen schools from across the country. The festival allowed young Deaf theatre artists to perform their pieces and receive feedback for their work in a national arena, as a part of the in-person festival held in Salt Lake City March 10-13th.

Dominique Morisseau's latest endeavor CONFEDERATES, set to open at the Signature Theater later this month, sets two parallel storylines 160 years apart from each other, tied together by one question: "What does freedom look like now?" The prolific playwright, most recently known for her work on SKELETON CREW, spoke about the way her latest play juxtaposes the evolution of racism in the United States, tracking how micro and macro aggressions, while presenting in different forms, all lead to the same ending: "Eventually, all of these are harmful and deadly," Morisseau told NYT.

After a turnover of leadership in 2020, NYC's newly renamed Flea Collective is on a mission to turn what was once a tumultuous, notably unwelcoming space to Black actors and creatives into an organization focused on developing works focused on experiences of underrepresented communities. Formerly the Flea Theater, the group underwent a massive overhaul in 2020, after multiple accusations of mistreatment of Black members by the group's past leadership, as well as handfuls of stories of overworked, underpaid (or completely unpaid) hours at the theater, creating a culture of allowing only the privileged few that could afford to work for free to be welcomed at the theater. Now, the Collective's new manifesto will focus on work - created by paid actors - celebrating stories from "Black, brown and queer artists."

A new crop of writers has been selected for this year's Fox Writers Incubator program, which aims to develop and support voices from underrepresented communities in drama, comedy, and animation. The initiative provides the four chosen writers with a three-month workshop series, focusing on mentorship, industry development, and writing feedback. The Fellows may then receive the opportunity to work within the Fox Entertainment network after the completion of the program. Congrats to this year's class!

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Quick Bites

A viral social media video of a Ukrainian girl singing "Let It Go" from a bomb shelter in the country caught the attention of Idina Menzel - "We see you. We really, really see you" the actress wrote in a repost of the video. The original post wrote: "[E]veryone put their business aside and listen[ed] to a song by this girl who was just beaming light." 💙💛

New spring openings on Broadway mean new Playbill covers! Check out the newcomers to 42nd Street 🎭

We got our first look at renderings for the updated David Geffen hall last week, which is slated to open in October (ahead of schedule, might we add!). The Geffen is mainly home to the New York Philharmonic and serves as an event space for dozens of artists and performances each year. Take a look at what's ahead for the newest revitalization project at Lincoln Center

March 08, 2022

Happy March, UTD!

After some unseasonable days, it's beginning to feel like Spring here in the Northeast 🌷 Regardless of weather, Spring rejuvination is in the air. As mask & vaccine mandates are finally being shed I can't help but feel like a bear coming out of hibernation. You can feel this charged energy reflected in the industry as well. Fingers crossed that COVID numbers will remain low as we all get comfortable in the world post-mask-mandate. 🤞

There has been a lot going on behind the scenes here at UTDA and we are excited to be getting to a point to share a bit with you. Stay tuned for a big feature announcement in next week's email!

Don't forget to register for our free workshop this Friday with Actors Connection! This is our first SEEKING REPRESENTATION 101 workshop of the year. It is a common trend for talent agents and managers to look at adding to their roster at the completion of pilot season. As most pilots have been cast and are beginning to shoot, now is a great time to ensure your marketing materials are in tip-top shape for a Spring representation campaign. Our SEEKING REPRESENTATION 101 workshop will help you prepare your materials and build a targeted list of Agents & Managers to start your campaign.

Upcoming Events:

Lastly, folks at the workshop this Friday will get a sneak peak at our upcoming feature 😎

Create a great week!!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

International Women's Day

We're so excited and thankful to once again celebrate Women's History Month throughout March, and International Women's Day today!

Filmocracy and Sony Pictures are teaming up with several organizations later this month to present the 8th annual Women's Voices Now Film Festival. The March 24th virtual event will promote and empower female filmmakers and narratives, celebrating the stories of the fight for women's rights across the globe and distributing $10,000 in prizes to the night's winners. "We must spread awareness, spark dialogue, and inspire action to prevent the rollback of hard-earned women's rights in these challenging times," executive director Heidi Basch-Harod said. "The medium of film and its ability to generate empathy is the most powerful tool we have to keep women's rights issues front and center."

Updates on Broadway: Mask Mandate Remains, Cort Theatre Renamed

As cities around the world slowly begin to lift mask and vaccine restrictions, Broadway has elected to err on the side of caution and extend its COVID policy for all houses through at least April 30th. Leaders from The Broadway League and other entities are set to revisit the decision on April 1st, as NYC mayor Eric Adams' told reporters that while city-wide mandates expired yesterday, "Broadway will make their determination and we'll respect that."

And while you're planning your next Broadway trip, why not enter for a chance to win orchestra seats at HAMILTON, and a VIP seat to a screening and talk-back for THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, hosted by Lin-Manuel Miranda and his family! A donation of $10 or more to the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance is all you need - the contest closes on March 22nd! 🎟

The Cort Theatre will be officially renamed to honor the life and legacy of James Earl Jones, a fitting tribute from the Shubert Organization to commemorate where Jones made his full Broadway debut in 1958. "For me, standing in this very building 64 years ago at the start of my Broadway career, it would have been inconceivable that my name would be on the building today," Jones said. "Let my journey from then to now be an inspiration for all aspiring actors."

Looking to binge a little theatre content this week? Check out where to watch some of the most anticipated on-screen work from Broadway stars past and present this month! 📺

The newest slate from industry insider organization The Business of Broadway was announced last week, geared towards all things producing and developing works from a business perspective. The group also detailed a new partnership with Theatre Producers of Color, which will give access to the classes and seminars to individuals from underrepresented communities. "We hope to inspire a generation of artists and producers who together want to use shared knowledge, values, and experiences to reimagine and rebuild how the commercial theatre industry looks and operates," the leadership team wrote.

Got plans this Friday? The New York Public Library will be streaming a rare 1974 interview with Fred Ebb, John Kander, and Liza Minnelli at 5:30 PM EST about the trio's long-standing record of collaborations on iconic shows like CABARET and LIZA WITH A Z. Need I say more? Registration is free! 📽

Kristen Chenoweth's Broadway Boot Camp is back in-person this year! Students in grades 8-12 will have a chance to work with Chenoweth, along with a host of other Broadway professionals, in the star's hometown of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. "My most important mission in this life is to inspire—always inspire," the WICKED star said. "And I can promise you that is what we are going to do once again at camp." Are you suuuure only high school students are allowed to go? 😉🙏

Awards & Festivals

Looking for all things Oscars-coverage in the weeks leading up to this year's ceremony? Variety's Contenders Film Series broke down all the hottest races with some of the nominees themselves last Saturday. It was a great opportunity to listen to some of the best in the business speak candidly about how they prepared themselves for their Oscar-nominated performances, and what may be next for them. Check out Variety's social channels for all the coverage from last weekend's event!

The kick-off for this year's SXSW festival is slated for this Friday, and the festival just announced its final round of keynote speakers for the event 🎤 The 36th annual gathering of some of film's brightest up-and-coming stars will feature addresses from TED LASSO's Brett Goldstein and Brendan Hunt, director Ron Howard, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and more! The event will run in-person for the first time in three years - a sobering fact that marks the length of COVID's grasp on our industry as we enter the third year of the pandemic - but with lots of encouraging signs ahead 🤞

The 60th New York Film Festival will be back in person this fall, showing off some of the most highly-anticipated movies from around the world September 30th through October 16th. Once again filling seats for the historic Film at Lincoln Center venue in NYC, the festival also welcomed two promotions for Eugene Hernandez as Executive Director and SVP of Film at Lincoln Center, and Dennis Lim as the festival's first Artistic Director. Bring on in-person festivals once more! 🎬

International Production

A group of powerful women are leading the charge to develop new content throughout Africa in the next few years, setting the tone for streamers like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ to begin workshopping content centered around African narratives. Originally from Kenya, former venture capitalist Dorothy Ghettuba was tasked with leading Netflix' African Originals department in 2019, and is continuing to workshop where the company's content will be headed in the years to come. "The time is now," Ghettuba said in a recent interview. "These are voices that need to be heard." CEO of South African media company MultiChoice Yolisa Phahle agrees with Ghettuba: "We don't have equality, but we really do have increasingly improved representation, and we've got to continue to fight for that."

Netflix is also giving a boost to a handful of other content from around the globe this year. Series from Taiwan, Japan, and Australia all received the green light from the streaming giant this past week, as the company makes good on its promise to continue to diversify its offerings on a global scale. Hooray for more voices coming to the big screen! 📽

Disney Under Fire for Funding Anti-LGBTQ+ Florida Politicians

The backlash for Disney continues amid reports of its implicit support of Florida's horrendous "Don't Say Gay" Bill, passed by the statehouse in late February and currently headed for debate in Florida's Senate. The House of Mouse recently put out a statement in support of the LGBTQ+ community, a hollow gesture considering the company's long-standing support of the politicians advocating on behalf of the bill that would ban the discussion of gender and sexuality in Florida classrooms.

Family namesake Abigail Disney blasted the company's positioning on the issue, taking to Twitter to say that she "could not be more unhappy with [Disney's] political activities, both in terms of whom they fund and how they lobby." The company is set to host the "Reimagine Tomorrow" conference later this month to discuss "issues of concern to our LGBTQ+ colleagues," along with a broader "Reimagine Tomorrow Global Summit" in April that will gather employees from around the world to discuss the company's plans for expanding its DEI initiatives.

Industry Intel

As the grim stories coming out of Ukraine of the last few weeks push more and more companies to take action in sanctioning Russia, a growing number of streamers are reevaluating their current business practices in the country to show support for Ukraine. Netflix is the latest company to take a definitive stand against the Kremlin, ceasing all service in Russia in protest of its unprecedented invasion of Ukraine. Netflix joins the likes of Apple, Disney, and Microsoft to halt business in the country amid the ongoing conflict.

For the second time in just a week, a Netflix set has been the subject of a robbery, this time targeting French series LUPIN (ironically, a series about heists 👀). An estimated $330,000 worth of equipment was lifted from the set, just a few days after Netflix stalwart THE CROWN was victim to a similar incident that saw nearly $200,000 worth of antiques disappear. There's a streaming bandit on the loose!

We believe it's so important to take some time to read stories of actors currently working in the industry and learn how they came to land the roles and careers that we know them for today. After earning degrees in English and government from Cornell, Justin H. Min jumped the tracks from a career in journalism to pursue acting full-time. Min credits a full slate of classes in part for his success: "I just knew that I wanted to be at a level where I could feel confident in the room and could put my best foot forward." Everyone has to start somewhere!

Some regional houses announced changes in their leadership teams last week:

It's worth noting that a handful of podcasts have been making a jump to the screen in the last few years, and there seems to be no sign of that trend slowing down. MODERN LOVE, HOMECOMING, THE DROPOUT - all at one time highly streamed casts in their own right have now received full series treatments on streaming services. Keep an eye on those episodes you're listening to during your commute every morning - you never know what's going to be casting next

NBC announced that ORDINARY JOE would not be receiving a third season last week, ending a two-year run for the show that explored how lives can change based on who and how you love. "Couldn't be more proud of the writers, actors, the directors and the uber-talented craftsmen and women who all came together as a family and made a truly beautiful show," co-creator Garrett Lerner wrote on Twitter. "Thank you all."

New Works Ahead

It's full-steam ahead with the creation of Harvey Fierstein's Theatre Lab, a $2.5 million venture that will build out from New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' Billy Rose Theatre Division. Tony-winning designer David Rockwell, who previously created sets for KINKY BOOTS and HAIRSPRAY, will lead the design process for the Theatre Lab over the next few years. "Harvey's vision of creating a new home for the next generation of theater artists is a vital part [of] the Library for the Performing Arts' mission to inspire and support creativity," Rockwell said. The space will house classroom units, acting studios, and more, with the overall goal to benefit high school and college students and teachers.

It was a busy week for the Billy Rose Theatre Division last week, as the organization also announced the creation of the Theatre and Technology Fellowship, which will provide funding and living expenses for one individual interested in digging deeper into the Division's sprawling archive of theatre artifacts. The parameters of the fellowship are intentionally broad - applicants can explain their interest in any of the pieces in the collection, from lighting design to virtual reality development, which will then be presented in a public showcase at the end of the year. Applications close on April 15th!

A new production of HAMLET from StageWest in Massachusetts is pushing the boundaries of what the Bard's historic works can look like onstage - a fact that I imagine, the Bard would be more than happy to see still being explored centuries after his original staging. Utilizing the teachings of the famed Suzuki method, developed by Japanese mentor Tadashi Suzuki, director Eric Hill's production tugs at the intersection of gender, identity, and sexuality, starting with the casting of Kelly Maurer in the titular role. "Today we live in the jet age," Hill said in a recent interview. "Actors have to be top-gun pilots, flying over the Pacific, turning right angles on a dime. Now we experience enormous emotional shifts in a split second. Chaotic experiences crowd our consciousness, and our world, like Hamlet's, is falling apart at the seams." Say yes to more experimental theatre in 2022!

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

TV

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Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

TV

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

March 01, 2022

Happy March, UTD!

Are you feeling as neck-deep as I feel this busy pilot and production season? Between the onslaught of the project news & announcements, the current global state of affairs, awards chatter, and just plain ol' life, I'm running thin these days. So, if you are like me, maybe take a moment this week for your own wellness. When I start to feel overwhelmed I try to check in and list all of the things I am grateful for. Now more than ever I am reminded of how fortunate I am to be safe, healthy, and happy. I hope the same for you.

If your year has gotten off to a slow start or you just need a kick in the pants we have two workshops scheduled this spring. More to come TBA. We'd love for you to join Annie and me for some free tips on how to move your career to the next level with BOLD, specific, action.

Also, read below for a new way to work with Annie. She is offering a great new online class to help hold you accountable and stay focused on your career path. There's a lot of 2022 left, make the most of it!

Alright, there is a lot to cover this week, so we're giving you a slightly abbreviated format today.

Have a great week and remember, when the going gets tough.... 🧘‍♀️ Ommmmm!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Accountability with Annie

For the first time since pre-pandemic, Up-To-Date Theatricals founder Annie Chadwick is offering an ongoing monthly accountability career building class starting in March/April. This opportunity is available for actors who have previously worked with Annie ONLY. Starting in March/April, the accountability class builds upon the prior ideas worked on with Annie, giving focus and commitment that will accelerate your individual career goals.

The class outline will consist of the following:

  • Work once a week with career coach Annie Chadwick in a Q&A zoom class. In this class, you will work with a group of committed actors to stay accountable for your homework and weekly activities to achieve your goals. This creates a Mastermind vortex energy greater than your individual energy. Annie will answer your specific questions about your homework, career goal progress and give empowering next steps.
  • Homework consists of: Creating a year-end major career goal, Defining weekly accountability goals that advance your year-end goal, Identifying marketing tools that need to be updated, Research projects that are a fit for your unique talent, and Reading assignments for building a success consciousness including visualization techniques.
  • Work with Abigail Hardin once a month in an additional one-hour zoom Q&A on how to use the Up-To-Date Actor site to advance your career goals, target industry contacts, research projects that you are a fit for, and answer any personal questions on your profile.
  • Receive two-months of complimentary access to the Up-To-Date Actor whether you have an account or not.
  • Access to a new "Clients Only" resources section on the Up-To-Date Actor including sample Agent and Casting Director submission cover letters, Resumes, and Follow up Notes as well as Resources Referral Lists, Recommended Coaches, and Acting Studios.

The following qualities consistently create success: daily targeted work, professional guidance & training, a clear plan for smart use of one's time and money, and finally, a committed belief in one's unique creative potential and place in the Entertainment Industry. With these disciplines, you can successfully move your career forward in this very competitive entertainment industry.

Contact Annie for more info on this class or for career consultations: annie@uptodatetheatricals.com

Entertainment Industry Stands in Solidarity with Ukraine 🇺🇦

Pressure is mounting around the world as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to escalate military operations against neighboring Ukraine, which has set off a slew of sanctions and backlash from companies and organizations, including many in our industry. SAG-AFTRA issued a statement over the weekend, telling their colleagues in Ukraine that they "stand in solidarity" with the citizens of the embattled nation, urging members to support international groups like UNICEF that can provide aid to families in need.

Boycotts have been swift and far-reaching as tensions rise in Europe - Netflix opted out of adding content from Russian propaganda networks to its platform in the country, joining a growing list of companies and events that are banning Russian content in support of Ukraine:

There has also been a growing call to support works from Ukrainian artists, particularly for the stories being told by filmmakers in the country of the already-strained relationship with Russia - read more from IndieWire.

SAG Awards: SUCCESSION, TED LASSO Win Big; Other Surprise Winners Announced

The Screen Actors Guild hosted its 28th annual award show last Sunday evening, crowning some of the biggest names in film and TV from 2021 with its top prizes. CODA, SUCCESSION, and TED LASSO all took home top prizes during the night, staking claims for what is sure to be exciting Emmys and Oscars races later this year.

More coverage from this year's SAG Awards:

NAACP Awards Celebrate BLACK-ISH, POWER BOOK II; César Awards & More

While the SAG Awards got most of the hype for the awards season circuit this past week, there were also a handful of other ceremonies that celebrated achievements both in front of and behind the camera in 2021. The César Awards, France's renowned rival to the Oscars, played host to a mix of French and American talent, while the NAACP Awards highlighted the performances and achievement by people of color in film and TV.

Other updates from the Awards Season landscape so far this year 🏆

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

A new partnership between J.J. Abram's production company Bad Robot and The Black List will create a path for writers from underrepresented communities to have their work reviewed via the Black List website. 500 writers will receive a free evaluation of their original work, along with the opportunity to have their screenplays hosted on the site for one month.

Any fans of the BLACK-ISH in the audience? Members of the highly-successful show's producing team sat down with TV Line to discuss the show's lasting impact on diversity in network comedies 📺

Earlier this Monday, actor Brittney Johnson made history as Broadway's first full-time Glinda in WICKED - check out the video of her warm welcome at the Gershwin! 👏

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Industry Intel: Production, UpFronts on the Rise, Entertainment Vets Share Stories

California has picked out its most recent crop of films to receive the state's robust tax incentive, which is expected to bring in over $1.7 billion in production spending in the coming years. Set to compete with other production hubs like Atlanta and New York, California is making good on its promise to dole out every bit of its $330 million tax credit program to attract companies over its borders.

More production and network updates:

Streaming is, without a doubt, the way of the future. And with the advent of so many platforms and original content coming out seemingly every day, I have to wonder how it will affect the format of what we watch in the years ahead. TV shows and movies have always been the standard rubrics for projects, but with the creation and popularity of limited series growing in recent years, many in the industry are wondering how the hybrid long-form story arcs of these projects will continue to resonate with viewers. Do we like them? Are they here to stay? It's anyone's guess 🤷‍♀️

In any case, we know one thing is for sure: Learning more about your craft is never going out of style 😎 some experts weigh in on their advice for cherishing your career as an actor:

Opportunities for New Writers

Living in this new renaissance of content has its many perks for those in our industry, especially for those looking to be in 🎶 the (writers) room where it happens 🎶 A recent panel hosted by SCAD TVFest surveyed some top network execs on what they are currently looking for when making programming decisions for today's market. "In our business right now, we're looking for people, aggressively and actively, to enter the business because it's growing at an exponential rate and I think the opportunity is tremendous and exists," NBCUniversal's JoAnn Alfano said.

Now is as good a time as any to truly start honing in on what makes you and your work so unique - take time to jot down some goals and aspirations for the rest of the year, and see how those fit in with everything you're currently working on. Particularly if you are a writer, there are so many amazing opportunities to have your works evaluated, developed, and grow into their next phase.

Check out some of these writing programs, and keep them on your radar for the next time submissions come around. Having a shortlist of target organizations is a great way to set deadlines and ensure you have your next great project ready to be taken to the next level!

Are you an artist living in New York? Creatives Rebuild New York has opened up an incredible opportunity for 2,400 individuals living throughout the state to receive $1,000 a month for the next 18 months, as a way of getting the industry back on its feet from the last two years. We encourage everyone living in New York to take a look and see if you qualify - applications close March 25th!

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

TV

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

TV

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

February 22, 2022

Industry Intel

Hollywood is planning to continue its COVID safety protocols through April 30th at least, with language being updated to define "fully vaccinated" as initial shot(s) plus a booster starting March 15th. Funding for testing services will also be replenished, and renewed mask mandates will require employers to provide N95, KN95 or KF95 masks for on-set workers.

The COVID updates come as SAG-AFTRA begins negotiations for new commercial contracts for members, a two-sided endeavor between the union and the ad industry's Joint Policy Committee. The two groups agreed to a media blackout until the results of the meeting have been finalized - so stay tuned for updates!

Get your casting notebooks out! Disney's casting department has added several new staff members, as well as promoted current employees, and assigned others to new projects. Led by EVP Casting at Walt Disney Television Sharon Klein, the changes come at a time when Disney is seeking to expand its content reach through Disney+ as well as its feature films. Even a company as massive as Disney is always looking to meet new faces, so always keep an eye out on these changes - you never know who you might know from an audition once upon a time ✨

The upcoming Critics Choice Awards will feature dueling telecasts from London and Los Angeles, in an effort to breach the gap of travel restrictions from COVID. The 27th annual CCA will coincide with this year's BAFTA's ceremony as well, a move that organizers hoped would allow nominees to attend both events in London on March 13th.

Tis the season for awards, after all, Check out Variety's predictions for this year's SAG Award frontrunners!

Looking for a generational masterclass on acting? The upcoming narrative documentary ACTING: THE FIRST SIX LESSONS takes an in-depth look at the craft, history, and artistry of acting, starring Beau Bridges and his daughter Emily Bridges. Lessons include Characterization, Memory of Emotion, and Concentration. The doc will stream across platforms on March 8th!

More Articles:

Network Updates, Streaming Still King 👑

As of last Wednesday, ViacomCBS has officially become Paramount, a move the company believes will place "an iconic global name" at the forefront of its worldwide business endeavors. "As Paramount, our name will reflect who we are, what we aspire to be, and all that we stand for," Paramount execs wrote in a statement. "It will help advance our strategy of harnessing all our strength and breadth in building the businesses of tomorrow."

The industry was unimpressed. Paramount stocks dropped more than 20% early Wednesday, after the company announced that it would move more deeply into the virtual content world, pledging to increase its streaming spend to $6 billion by 2024. While Paramount exes boasted increased company earnings numbers for its streaming networks Paramount+ and PlutoTV, industry analysts still felt that returns would not reach favorable heights until the latter half of the 2020s, prompting many to question Paramount's upcoming reliance on its streaming model.

But Paramount isn't going down without a fight. The company also announced last week that Showtime content would be making its way to Paramount+ later this year, after celebrating the 56 million subscribers the company has pulled in between the two platforms. While 80% of the new 9.4 million subscribers in 2021 were for Paramount+, the company still believes Showtime's content standard will keep people coming back, and fair enough - the 56.1 million subscribers are third in the streaming race, behind only Netflix and Disney.

AMC Networks also flaunted its Q4 2021 earnings last week, sharing that the company ended the year with over 9 million paid subscribers for its own streaming services. While 9 million may seem like peanuts compared to the industry heavyweights, the figure stepped right up to meet NBCUniversal's 9 million Peacock subscribers to end the year, posing an interesting mid-level streaming race between the two platforms in the year to come.

And let's hear it for a newcomer to the streaming space! TelevisaUnivision has announced Vix as its main streaming platform, set to launch in the next few months. The company will offer both paid and free versions, and users will have access to tens of thousands of hours of Univision's English and Spanish-language content. Welcome to the show, Vix

Theatre Updates

The 13th annual Jimmy Awards have set the 45 Regional Awards programs for this year's ceremony, created and sponsored by The Broadway League. Two winners for each region's program will receive a paid trip to NYC to be a part of the Jimmy Awards on June 27th at the Minskoff Theatre. Break a leg to all participants!

Theatre Communications Group has added the 110 titles from its TCG Books Play Collection to Drama Online, a leading source of publications from the theatre made available for use by institutions. An additional 90 titles are set to be added to the collection later this year, from authors like Alice Childress, Adam Rapp, David Mamet, David Henry Hwang, and more!

Anyone looking for a show recommendation in New York: OUT OF TIME at The Public Theatre has been receiving rave reviews since previews began, including this in-depth piece from NYT last week. The show features five monologues from Asian-American playwrights, performed by a troupe of actors all over 60. Check it out and let us know what you think!

ENCANTO lovers: Who's ready for a Broadway spin on the newest Disney+ craze? It sounds like Lin-Manuel Miranda may be onboard the multi-award winning writer and performance recently told E! News that he "would love" to expand on the world of the Madrigal family, saying that it "weirdly lends itself well" to a stage adaptation. "There are so many stories in that house that it would be wonderful to expand on it, whether it's a stage version, whether it's a series, whether it's another movie," Miranda said. "There's lots of stories in there." Sign me up!

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The 2021-2022 season was an incredible year for representation in television, as LGBTQ+ characters accounted for 11.9% of all series regular roles on television. This is an encouraging jump from the 2.8% in the prior season, and easily the highest figure on record. An additional 49 LGBTQ+ recurring roles were noted by the annual GLAAD Where We Are on TV report, adding up to 141 LGBTQ+ characters on broadcasts this year in lead or recurring roles. Check out the full breakdown of the report here!

USC Annenberg's Inclusion Initiative also released its annual "Inclusion in the Director's Chair" report, which breaks down representation in the top 1,500 films between 2007-2021. This year's study found that 15% of the top grossing films in 20220 were helmed by women, a record number for the metric, though still far behind where the report would like to see the statistic. The biggest strides are being made among streaming content: "There seems to be a recognition that the audience is diverse and wants to see a range of stories from a wide array of storytellers," Annenberg Inclusion Initiative founder Dr. Stacy L. Smith said. "[W]e need more than Jane [Champion] and more than Chloe Zhao to ensure that women—and women of color in particular—have career sustainability and the opportunity to tell stories that reach audiences."

While Annenberg's study called out Amazon Prime Video specifically for its strides in creating inclusive spaces for women and other underrepresented groups behind the camera, Netflix made clear its commitment to diversity at all levels of its business, releasing the findings of the diversity in its workforce last week. 50.5% of the streamer's workforce is made up of employees from "historically excluded racial backgrounds" and 51.7% of the workforce is women - an impressive metric considering the company's roughly 10,000 global team members. Perhaps the tides of representation in Hollywood (and around the globe) are truly beginning to change 🤞

Angelina Jolie spoke to a group of senators on Capitol Hill last week, urging them to renew the now-lapsed Violence Against Women Act. The law, first passed in 1994, established federal protocols for domestic violence allegations throughout the country, along with creating funding for crisis centers and community groups. The law expired in 2019 and has yet to regain firm support in Congress - Jolie called the bill's new life in the Senate "one of the most important votes senators will cast this year." Please call your representatives and ask them to support this bill - all it takes is a phone call or email!

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February 15, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

This week, Oscars noms and awards chatter continue to dominate the news waves. Also, despite pandemic changes Pilot Season is in full swing. This past week saw an uptick of pilots currently casting and networks started to announce series orders in larger volumes. This schedule is no surprise, but in a time of uncertainty, it's nice to see some regularity. For a full list of pilots and series currently casting check out our "What's Casting" page on the Up-To-Date Actor.

For those living in New York, make sure to check out the new grant offering 2,400 NY artists in need $1,000 a month for 18 months. Applications just opened yesterday.

Mark your calendars for some Spring workshops and stay tuned for more TBA. Is there a topic you'd like us to cover? Send us an email and let us know what type of workshop you'd like us to offer in the coming months.

Lastly, as a little Valentine's gift to us all, Netflix dropped the first trailer from season 2 of BRIDGERTON. You're welcome! 😘

That's all from me, see you next week!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Production Updates

Film & TV

A new state-of-the-art film studio is coming to Astoria, Queens in NYC. The $600-million project is backed by Robert De Niro and is expected to be completed by late 2023. The studio will house 11 sound stages, surrounded by other production facilities that make up a "studio village," according to planning documents submitted to the city.

Theatre

The Barrow Group is opening a new performing arts center in April 2022 at 520 8th Avenue. Aiming to play a role in revitalizing the hard-hit cultural scene in New York City, The Barrow Group's new 13,155 sq. ft. home currently plans a dynamic 60-seat theater, 5 sound-attenuated studios, offices, and a large community gathering space. Phased renovations are expected to begin in February 2022 and are estimated to cost $4 million in total.

At the start of the pandemic, The Barrow Group let go of its 10,000 sq. ft. arts center at 312 West 36 St, correctly intuiting that the pandemic would last more than a year. The company pivoted its training and artist development programs online and served more than 5,200 professional, beginner, and youth actors, writers, and directors, while employing 39 teaching artists. This swift response stabilized the company by generating over $1.9 million in earned revenue and giving The Barrow Group the resources and time to search for a new home.

International

Global consumers are looking to their own countries for quality, home-grown, content. As pointed out by executive director at Ampere Analysis Guy Bisson, kicking off the "Mission: Europe. How Local Markets Muscle Up" panel, co-hosted by Film und Medien Stiftung NRW, "Europe is playing the quality game." With new markets emerging as production powerhouses, including Russia, Ukraine, Poland, certain Benelux countries, and Scandinavia, he also noticed some clear patterns emerging such as period-set local stories, adapted from existing, successful content, which are much more likely to get commissioned by the likes of an Amazon or Netflix.

Across the pond, Amazon Prime Video has signed a multimillion-pound long-term deal with the Pinewood Group's Shepperton Studios for exclusive use of new production facilities. The new facilities will comprise nine sound stages, workshops and office accommodation, totaling approximately 450,000 square feet, and forming part of the wider redevelopment and expansion of Shepperton Studios, which will deliver approximately 1.2 million square feet of new studio space.

The Amazon Studios Inclusion Policy and Playbook released last June in the U.S. is reverberating in the streaming giant's productions around the world. “We are inspired by what the U.S. has done already," said Philip Pratt, head of German Originals. "The question for me seriously is how we represent German culture and the set up that we find in Germany on screen; behind the screen; in crews and camera; in the office with us and the team. So really for us it's specifically how we work on the German guidelines," he added. Margy Elliott, who is Amazon Prime's senior strategy manager, DE&I, and has been instrumental to the Playbook that outlines specific commitments and goals, said that it's "about how we are seeking to hire in front of the camera and behind the camera," noting that when it comes to the behind the camera aspect the crucial change is to veer off the beaten track.

The Casting Society of America - Going Global 🌎

The Casting Society of America is thinking globally. The group is marking its 40th year with a name change that reflects the expansion of its ranks to include casting professionals living and working around the world. Meet the Casting Society, and check out its new logo! "By removing America from our name, we are embracing how CSA has grown exponentially and globally in recent years," Casting Society President Kim Williams said. "The acronym CSA will stay the same, as it is a trusted and well-known moniker used by casting directors across the entertainment spectrum — from film, television, theater, short films and commercials."

Are you ready to take online classes with Casting Directors? Check out this great article from the lovely Colleen at Actors Connection!

COVID Restrictions & Protocols

With states easing up on COVID mandates and restrictions, the choice of whether to mask or not to mask is being placed back in the hands of companies and individual industries. But in the film & TV industry, there is no rush to get back to "normal." The studios and unions are largely holding firm on the set of COVID production protocols that have been in place since the summer of 2020. Both sides are in talks this week on adjustments to the plan — which is formally set to expire on Sunday. But while there may be some tweaks, nobody is expecting the restrictions to be significantly loosened. "I don't expect we're going to relax the protocols until both sides feel comfortable that we're in a different stage," said Steve Dayan, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 399.

Last month Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, commented: "We're proud to continue setting the gold standard of covid health protocols in all our Broadway theatres in New York. We're equally proud to assure our ticket buyers' purchases are secure with our flexible Buy With Confidence refund and exchange policies. Our theatres and world class shows are open for business, ready to welcome and enrapture our audiences, as we've done every day for the past five months. Come join us!" Currently, all 41 Broadway theatres in New York City require vaccinations for audience members, as well as performers, backstage crew, and theatre staff, for all performances through April 30, 2022.

Oscars Chatter

Speaking of COVID restrictions and protocols, The Academy of Arts and Sciences will not require proof of vaccination for in-person attendees of the 2022 Academy Awards. In a break from precedent set by the SAG Awards and Critics Choice Awards, the event will require a negative PCR test and a negative rapid antigen test on the day of the event. The Academy has not officially announced its Covid policy for the event. According to the report, there is speculation that the Academy will not mandate vaccines to ensure that unvaccinated nominees will be able to attend.

Over the next month look for a whole bunch of op-eds and analysis of this year's nominations and industry-wide implications. Here are some highlights from this week:

Streaming Continues to Dominate

Disney beat Wall Street expectations for earnings, revenue, and streaming subscriber growth in its fiscal first quarter, sending its beleaguered shares up 7% in after-hours trading. Flagship streaming service Disney+ reached 129.8 million subscribers, 11.8 million more than at the end of the previous quarter and ahead of analysts' consensus expectation for 125.4 million. Total subscriptions across Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu hit 196.4 million.

Disney has confirmed it will join other media companies in hosting an in-person New York City upfront during the familiar mid-May week long known for broadcast network presentations to ad buyers. The event on May 17 will be held at Basketball City, a facility on Pier 36 along the East River, which is a change from the company's longtime Lincoln Center base. Ad sales chief Rita Ferro, in a note to clients, said the plan is to “transform” the new space in order to "deliver an upfront event unlike anything you've ever seen from Disney."

Fox Corp.'s Tubi had 3.6 billion hours streamed in 2021, a 40% increase over 2020, as overall viewing migrates from subscription to free and ad-supported services. That's one of the main findings in an annual report released by Tubi and highlighted by Fox executives during the company's fiscal second-quarter earnings call. Fox reported a 9% uptick in revenue during the quarter, to $4.4 billion. Growth in the company's library, now at 41,000 film and TV titles, helped propel view time, CEO Lachlan Murdoch said. "While some companies are focused on multi-billion-dollar content investments in search of subscription streaming growth, Tubi continues its unrelenting focus on advertising video-on-demand with a strategic, measured investment approach," Murdoch said during a conference call with Wall Street analysts.

Freebies, Discounts & Opportunities

APPLICATION ALERT: New York artists in need can apply for $1,000 a month for 18 months. A $125 million program is offering guaranteed income to 2,400 artists across New York State who can demonstrate financial need. Applications are now being accepted. Programs are already underway in San Francisco, St. Paul, Minn., and elsewhere. The idea gained support during the pandemic when live performances ground to a halt, galleries were closed, art fairs were canceled, and many art and music lessons were paused, leaving artists to suffer some of the worst job losses in the nation. "There are guaranteed income programs that have been launching across the country, many of them pilots to understand if this work has been working," Sarah Calderon, the executive director of the program said in an interview. "Creatives Rebuild New York has seen that data and really believes that it does work."

Broadway's THE MUSIC MAN is making available 10,000 tickets at just $20 each to New York City students, their families, and their teachers to help foster a love and appreciation for the arts by making Broadway more accessible. This broad effort, created and spearheaded by The Music Man's Black Theatre Coalition fellow, Amy Marie Haven, is built around partnerships with the New York City Department of Education and a dozen local youth non-profits, including Artists Striving to End Poverty, Art Start, Arts For All, Arthur Miller Foundation, On Broadway Performing Arts Training Program, Young People's Chorus of NYC, Education Through Music, Rosie's Theatre Kids, R Evolucion Latina, and Broadway Bridges. The extensive effort will be accompanied by curated initiatives designed to engage with the community.

NYC Off-Broadway Week is now live, offering 2-for-1 tickets to 17 Off-Broadway productions through February 27. Read the article for more information and how to purchase tickets. "We are pleased to kick-off NYC Off-Broadway Week today, as our Valentine's Day gift to the greatest city in the world. Each year, NYC Off-Broadway Week has given New Yorkers and visitors the opportunity to experience the intimacy and artistry of these incredible productions, and celebrate the theater communities found throughout the city," said Fred Dixon, President, and CEO of NYC & Company.

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February 08, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

I hope your week is off to a good start! The industry woke this morning to one of its yearly milestones - Oscar nominations! Read more below for the full list of noms, surprises, and snubs.

Mark your calendar, our first SEEKING REPRESENTATION 101 workshop of 2022 will be next month with Actors Connection.

New Feature

Lastly, it's tax season! 🤑 We've added a new tax related feature - photo receipt uploads! Now you can upload a photo of your receipt from your itemized deductions page. Go to your "Reports" page. Click on a particular deduction type to see your itemized deductions in that category. When you hover over the deduction you can choose to edit the deduction or upload a photo receipt.

As we all know, receipts can fade and deteriorate stored in a wallet or a folder all year. Now you can immediately log the deduction and upload your receipt for backup and further evidence of your deductions.

Happy Tax Time Everyone!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Oscar Nominations

This morning the 94th Oscar Nominations were announced! As predicted THE POWER OF THE DOG led the pack with 12 nominations, with DUNE second with 10. Check out the full list of nominations here.

Despite the great showing by POWER OF THE DOG and Apple TV+ entry CODA, total nominations by streaming services were significantly down from years prior. This is just another chapter in the constantly evolving book on the streaming effect.

There were many firsts and milestones met for individuals and minorities such as women and the deaf community (see individual links below) there were also quite a few snubs (hello Lady Gaga, Leo, and Ruth Negga).

All in all, it seems like a pretty good Oscar season! Here's how to watch the nominated films in the theatres and what is available on streaming services.

Lastly, The London Critics' Circle Awards were this past Sunday. THE POWER OF THE DOG was the big winner taking home four awards. Again, predictions say this is the Oscar favorite this year. Check out the full list Critics' Circle winners.

More Articles:

Industry Intel

SAG-AFTRA will move forward with plans for a new commercials contract for members, scheduling a round of negotiations with the ad industry's Joint Policy Committee beginning a week from today. "Negotiating strong contracts is the key to our success as a union, and ensuring the growth of employment opportunities under our commercials contracts is a priority for SAG-AFTRA," National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said of the upcoming talks.

Advocates in Hollywood are continuing to push for safer firearms practices on film and TV sets after the tragic shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of RUST last fall. Congressional leaders in New York and California have brought bills to their respective floors that would outlaw live ammunition on most sets, establish weapons handling protocols and institute fines for any productions found to be operating outside the law. Calls to ban functional guns on sets fell short of becoming a reality in the months after Hutchins' death, prompting officials to seek out new avenues to ensure sets are continuing to operate safely with guns on-hand.

Big-budget film director Roland Emmerich called out the effect that monster studio imprints like Marvel and STAR WARS have had on the originality of films in recent years, saying that the reliance on the expansive franchise model is "ruining our industry a little bit." Emmerich took time to praise trailblazing filmmakers like INCEPTION and DARK KNIGHT creator Christopher Nolan, who he believes are making "bold new movies" that continue to push the boundaries of what films can look like.

Are you an actor, writer, or other creative who's interested in becoming a teaching artist? Check out this interview with Teaching Artists Guild co-Exec Director Katie Rainey about what the Guild offers to both its teachers and students, and how to get more info on becoming a part of TAG!

St. Louis regional mainstage The Muny embraced a different approach to casting its production of LEGALLY BLONDE this year, as the show's dance combination went viral on TikTok last week, leading to the theater receiving over 2,700 submissions for its upcoming summer season 💅 "Ultimately this show reminds us to be true to ourselves and live our best lives," Muny marketing director Eric Pugh said. "It is inspiring to see the TikTok community doing just that!"

Artios Nominees Announced

The Casting Society of America announced the feature film nominees for its 37th Artios Awards last week, the annual award show dedicated to excellence in the casting process for films, television, and theatre. Several high-profile theatre-to-film crossovers made waves for this year's nominees, including WEST SIDE STORY, TICK, TICK...BOOM and IN THE HEIGHTS.

As we mention each year, this is a great opportunity to reach out to the nominated CDs and congratulate them on their nomination. Then, fill them in on your exciting career news and updates! Don't let this once-a-year opportunity go to waste. For the most updated and comprehensive source contact info and submission preferences, look up each casting director on the Up-To-Date Actor!

In-Person We Go: Alamo Drafthouse Expands & More Up-Fronts

Reeling from the success of SPIDERMAN: NO WAY HOME at the end of 2021, movie theater chain Alamo Drafthouse announced a sizeable expansion to its footprint around the country, saying that the company will be adding new locations in hubs like St. Louis, Birmingham and Chicago, with expansions planned in DC and NYC as well. "Expanding our reach into new cities allows us to celebrate these filmmakers with a wider audience," founder and exec Tim League said of Alamo's commitment to hosting "a diverse mix of films and showcasing independent artists."

Spring up-fronts received another encouraging boost last week as The CW's confirmed plans to return to its longtime home at New York City Center for the studio's annual up-front event in May. Execs and ad buyers will reconvene in NYC after a two-year virtual stint due to COVID, joining the likes of Fox and NBCUniversal in embracing the frenzied, invigorating world of in-person up-fronts once again this spring.

Streaming News: Amazon's Rapid Growth, Netflix Marks LILYHAMMER Anniversary

Amazon shared some promising numbers with investors on its Q4 earnings call last week, revealing that the number of original films and series on the streaming service has tripled since 2018, with studio spending around $13 billion on movies, music, and series last year. CFO Brian Olsavsky marked the company's increased emphasis on video programming as one of the reasons for its next anticipated Prime subscription increase of $20 in the coming months, saying that the focus for 2022 and beyond will continue to be "more high-quality entertainment."

While Amazon basked in the glory of its bustling media divisions, Netflix still quietly remained far ahead of its competitor's spend numbers, totaling more than $17 billion in 2021 - and not having the added drivers of music and live sports for their business model. CEO Ted Sarandos took a moment to reflect on the company's journey over the last 10 years, penning a letter about the streamer's first original series LILYHAMMER, which launched on February 6th, 2012. While HOUSE OF CARDS was Netflix's first official series ordered for production, the Stevie Van Zandt-led LILYHAMMER received the company's first release date. "It's always hard to predict what's to come in the next ten but one thing is certain: we'll have many more great stories from anywhere that can be loved everywhere," Sarandos note mused. My main takeaway is, I can't believe the idea of binging a full series release has only been around for 10 years! Or does 10 years seem a lot longer....? What is time? 😵‍💫 I digress....

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Writer and comedian Awkwafina was taken to task in the last few months for her use of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) during her film performances earlier in her career, with community advocates remarking that the appropriation of AAVE received a pass for far too long. "As she borrowed from Black culture in order to make a name for herself, the woman born Nora Lum performed a series of racial stereotypes for coolness and clout," VICE writer Bettina Makalintal said in late January, noting that the success that the comedian-turned-actress has found up to this point in her career should be viewed through a more critical lens of representation. Awkwafina responded with a lengthy apology on her Twitter account last week, before announcing that she would be signing off from the social media platform and remain active on her other accounts.

Twitter also played host to a heated barrage of comments from WESTWORLD star Thandiwe Newton, who called out actor Sean Penn's recent comments on gender roles in the US. "I am in the club that believes that men in American culture have become wildly feminized… I don't think that [in order] to be fair to women, we should become them," Penn said in an Independent interview last month. Newton responded to the article - "What are you saying?? Like for REAL?" Penn's interview was alongside daughter Dylan Penn while promoting their new movie FLAG DAY.

The first round of recipients for The Telsey Office Miranda Casting Fellowship was announced last week, after receiving over 750 applications from across the country. Miles Kight, Domonique Aviles, and Steven Gutierrez will serve as the inaugural class of the Fellowship, created to provide career development opportunities for folks from underrepresented communities interested in casting. The initiative is a joint venture between The Telsey Office, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the Miranda family. Congrats all!

Acting Advice from the Pros

HBO newcomer THE GILDED AGE has proved to be a who's who of the New York theatre to on-screen pipeline, spearheaded by all-around queen Christine Baranski in a classic Julian Fellowes "Grand Dame" role. Baranski told Variety that she couldn't wait to step on set for the DOWNTON ABBEY creator's newest endeavor, which centers around new money vs old money high society in a post-Civil War New York City. "It's a dream come true for me," the actress remarked, saying she remembered several years prior thinking that she would do "anything, anything to be in a period piece written by Julian Fellowes," after hearing whispers of the show's inception at HBO.

Detailing her latest cinematic undertaking as famed actress Lucille Ball in Aaron Sorkin's BEING THE RICARDOS, Nicole Kidman spoke candidly about her career in Hollywood, and the up's and down's that she shared with Ball's own career. "That feels at times like… gut-wrenching," Kidman noted of the times she felt her career had run its course, choosing instead to focus on the other things in life that brought her joy and knowing that there was only so much that was in her control. "That's the journey of life, isn't it? And then suddenly going, 'This has blossomed… or this has opened up, and now I have this chance to do something."

Now that we're on the verge of peak audition and pilot season, it's the perfect time to make sure that all of your marketing materials are in tip-top shape, your self-tape set-up is ready to roll, and your songs, monologues, and scenes are audition room-ready:

"Listen, I may never have a job this cool again, that this many people actually tune in to watch, so I'm not gonna take it for granted," THE FLASH's Grant Gustin said at the end of the show's seventh season, at a time when the future of the series remained relatively unknown. Arrowverse fans can breathe a sigh of relief this week though, as The CW's officially picked up an eighth season of Gustin's FLASH, in what many believe may be his final hurrah has the DC superhero. Proof that keeping your head up and working on the roles you love can always lead to great things - including an amazing salary as a working actor!

Prolific film and TV director Ava DuVernay spoke about her filmmaking process with InStyle last week, sharing that directors can be the "grungiest" when it comes to creating the projects they love the most. "[W]hen I have the occasion to present the work, I want to do whatever I can to promote, to share, to amplify," DuVernay said while promoting her upcoming HBO Max docuseries ONE PERFECT SHOT, based on the popular Twitter account (a personal favorite of mine 📸)

More Articles:

Currently Casting

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February 01, 2022

Happy February, UTD!

I hope you had a good week and for those in the northeast, I hope you had the chance to get a good ol' fashioned snowball fight during last week's snowstorm. ☃️

Today marks the beginning of Black History Month. It's impossible to speak on the history of American theatre without highlighting the incredible work that Black playwrights, composers, actors, and other artists have made to the story of theatre in the US. There are so many wonderful productions happening around the country showcasing Black voices and stories from playwrights like Alice Childress, Lynn Nottage, and John Ridley - see if any are happening in your area! On the TV side, Deadline has compiled a list of television "programming highlights that touch on some of the myriad ways outlets are commemorating Black History Month, from live coverage of the NAACP Image Awards on BET to the documentary series Lincoln's Dilemma on Apple TV+ and everything in between."

And to those celebrating the Lunar New Year, Happy Year of the Tiger! 🐅

Lastly, we had some glitches with our inbox over the weekend. So, if you recently emailed us via info@uptodateactor.com and didn't get a response from us, please send your message again.

Create a great week!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Awards, Festivals & Up-Fronts

Live event planners the world over are hedging their bets on an eventual dip in COVID cases heading into the spring, with festival and award show organizers keeping their eyes on state and local restrictions as they continue prepping for their ceremonies in the coming months. Berlin Film Festival, the next major live event on this year's circuit, has bulked up their COVID protocols with mandatory press testing, along with vaccine and negative test requirements, noting that press representatives "have a wider range of movement and therefore more contacts."

Network heads are finding themselves in similar boats as they enter the planning stages of spring up-fronts, the yearly tradition of courting advertising exes to land air time on the networks in the coming year. Once again eyeing the hallowed halls of Radio City Music Hall for a return to in-person up-fronts, top studios like NBCUniversal and Fox are lining up their April and May showings as a hopeful boost to their sagging up-front numbers the last few years. "All this is meant to give you more opportunities to connect with audiences, and the freedom to fully optimize your business on every screen," NBCU's Linda Yaccarino told this year's prospective buyers.

Some other notable award shows and festival movements this past week 🏆:

Glasgow Film Festival will play an exclusive screening of the first episode of OUTLANDER season six, the popular Starz series set to release it's newest chapter on March 6th.

Both the Directors Guild and Producers Guild released the nominations for their 2022 award shows last week, giving lots of love to Paul Thomas Anderson's LICORICE PIZZA, Jane Champion's THE POWER OF THE DOG, and more. The DGA's March 12th ceremony will be held in-person in Beverly Hills, and is often seen as a bellwether of what the Oscars may hold later in the spring. The PGA Awards, set for the following week after being rescheduled from late February due to COVID concerns, similarly crowned future Best Picture nominees with its Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures Award in recent years.

15 performers were selected as part of Variety's 2022 Showcase event, which has served as the launch point for Nicole Byer, Kate McKinnon, Tiffany Hadish, and a host of other comedy community mainstays. Congrats to this year's invitees!

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Members of the Cherokee Nation have extended a $1 million dollar tax credit for any productions interested in filming within the boundaries of the nation's lands, hoping to make the most of the recent influx of projects heading to Oklahoma for the state's own robust incentive program. The Cherokee Nation Film Office will offer projects a base 20% cash rebate on costs for mounting the productions and can be applied on top of the state's separate film incentive.

Lena Waithe's Hillman Grad Productions is entering its second year of operations, opening up mentorship opportunities to creatives from underrepresented communities in film and TV. The program spans eight months and provides no-cost networking and development opportunities for participants to work on their projects and expand their career opportunities. "Many up and coming filmmakers were reaching out for advice and insights, and as that demand grew, we knew that there was a gap in the industry for a program like this – one that offered mentorship in an organized way while keeping the essence of an intimate, one-on-one connection at its core," program organizers said.

Several actors are continuing to take the industry to task on the continued representation issues in Hollywood, as John Leguizamo recently took aim at the bias casting of lighter-skinned actors in the Latine community. "All the Latinos who've made it so far, a lot of them were light-skinned," Leguizamo said during a segment of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences new series SEEN. "What happened to all the Afro Latinos and the majority of the indigenous Latinos? They don't get a shot."

Meanwhile, GAME OF THRONES star Peter Dinklage called out the upcoming remake of SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS as perpetuating a harmful representation of little people onscreen. While praising the production team's decision to cast a Latina actress (WEST SIDE STORY's Rachel Zegler) in the title role, Dinklage still questioned the necessity of revisiting the film at all. "[Y]ou're still making that f*cking backwards story about seven dwarfs living in a cave together. What the f*ck are you doing man?"

Tyler Perry Studios has entered into a partnership with Vets2Set, an organization committed to placing veterans into entry-level production positions around the country. "[T]he opportunities in the South are tremendous now thanks to Tyler Perry," Vets2Set president and co-founder David Cohen said of the new agreement. "Cooperation with this powerful studio at the center of Atlanta's burgeoning place in motion picture, television, and commercial production is huge for Vets2Set."

Updates at the Theater: Broadway Totals, Up-and-Coming Playwrights

Even with capacities for all Broadway theaters increasing to 75% last week, ticket counters saw their second-lowest attendance numbers this season over the 21 open productions, a recurring trend for live event venues across the country that are leaving owners and producers scrambling to keep productions running.

"You start having a domino effect with the rest of your season," executive director of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe Julie Leach said, a sentiment echoed by many organizers trying to round out their 2021-2022 seasons and prepping summer programming. Still, the world of regional theatre remains resilient, as directors go back to their 2020 and 2021 playbooks of hybrid virtual and in-person rehearsals and events, hoping to keep their shows running as COVID numbers remain high in many parts of the country.

This year's 2022 USA Fellows were announced last week by organizer United States Artists, which seeks to highlight outstanding work in a variety of artistic fields, including dance, film/TV, architecture, visual arts, and more. Five Fellows came from the theatre and performance fields, making them eligible to receive the initiative's $50,000 grant to create a new work of their choice. Check out the stories of some of the Fellows here!!

A group of industry insiders peeled back the layers of The Kilroys theatre initiative and dissected the importance of continuing to develop and uplift voices from underrepresented communities in the American theatre in an event last week with Syracuse Stage. Representatives from the theater, along with playwrights Hilary Bettis, Dipika Guha, and dramaturg Joy Meads chatted about the importance of theaters like Syracuse Stage utilizing the list to continue to promote works by non-binary, transgender, and female playwrights, and how they can serve as an example for groups looking to fill out future seasons with more diverse content. The event ran in the same week as organizers of Hollywood's Black List announced that they will begin to focus on works of theater as well, bringing an even greater emphasis on overlooked, unproduced scripts for the stage and screen.

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Industry Intel

A new piece of legislation currently making its way through Congress may provide some long-term tax relief to performing arts workers come tax time. The Performing Artist Tax Parity Act would revisit the current Qualified Performing Artist (QPA) deduction and update the terms to allow artists to take significantly more deductions on their tax return, putting more money back into the pockets of middle-class performing arts workers for use on other expenses. The bill has the full support of all of the major performing arts leagues and organizations and is currently being discussed in both the House and Senate. The inclusion of the PATPA in the fiscal year 2022 budget would definitely be a game-changer folks - be sure to call your representatives and let them know how important it is!

More Q4 earnings reports hit the newswires last week as NBCUniversal parent Comcast shared that its end of year numbers as a company exceeded investor expectations, even though numbers of streaming service Peacock continued to falter. Tallying up 9 million subscribers as 2021 came to a close, NBCU's virtual content platform still came in at a $1.7 billion loss, forcing Comcast execs to double down on their confidence in Peacock's growth. The studio plans to double spending on the streamer to $3 billion in 2022, pulling from previously budgeted funds as well as some linear allocations.

SAG-AFTRA is putting film and TV producers on notice as reports emerge of actors not receiving pay for the time it takes to remove make-up and wardrobe at the end of a shoot. Citing the union's 15-minute rule, SAG-AFTRA made it known to all members that "this rule does not limit the producer's obligation to compensate performers from the time the performer is required to and does report, as directed, until the time such performer is finally dismissed for the day."

The union also came to an agreement with Super Bowl Halftime Show producers last week to compensate the dancers involved in this year's event, after a handful of performers noted that they had been asked to work without pay. The disparity came between dancers who were performing onstage vs on the field, with the latter group originally being considered "volunteers" and not covered under a previous payment arrangement. SAG-AFTRA thanked the cooperation of producer Roc Nation and company head Jay-Z for working together to create the updated pay agreement.

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Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

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January 25, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

I'm going to keep it short and sweet this week. As we enter the last week of January, the casting portion of production has ramped into full gear and production is moving forward after the holiday break.

If you read one article from below, check out the section on Pilot Season. As we often talk about, pilot season structure has been shifting for some time, but this year is unlike any other. despite the ongoing demand for content, numbers are down largely due to many effects of covid, but there are many other factors at play. I highly encourage you to read this article in full.

We've got some big feature announcements coming in the next few weeks so stay tuned. In the meantime, make the most of this busy season — discover projects casting, build your list of targets, and check out our last workshop for tips on getting ahead of the casting notice!

Now, on to the news! Have a great week!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Production Returning

LA saw an unprecedented boom in production in the last three months of 2021, with FilmLA reporting that the region's Q4 filming stats set an all-time quarterly record with 10,780 shoot days over the time period. While the record-setting quarter led many to hedge their bets on even more prolific 2022 projections, the report noted that overall production for 2021 was still below totals for 2016-2018, and just barely edged out 2019 numbers. With Hollywood officially extending all COVID protocols until February 13th at least, totals for Q1 of 2022 seem to remain in limbo, but hey - production is back baby!

LA, NYC, and Atlanta might be hotspots for filming these days, but a new venture from Space 11 Corp is looking to set up shop with a soundstage - in space 🌌 Representatives from the company are in talks with Voyager Space company Nanoracks to construct the facility in the Earth's orbit, which is said to also include an audience space and sleeping arrangements. Studio heads believe the soundstage can be operational by 2027.... mark your calendars for an intergalactic trip to the theater now 🚀

Pilot Season Lows

Pilot season 2022 seems to be deflating right before our eyes, as fears of COVID shutdowns have dropped anticipated pilot numbers to be around 30-40 for the season. COVID isn't the only determining factor, the cycle had already begun to shift pre-pandemic.

"Some of the reduction is due to evolving broadcast models and shifting cycles (I hear some nets in December were already taking pitches for the 2022-23 development season), and some of it is because of the increased financial pressure declining linear ratings have put on pilot spending, even with networks' digital revenue on the rise."

Still, 30-40 pilots this season is a significant decline from the 70+ that the industry has seen in pre-pandemic years. "I don't think any network is going to do more than four pilots on either side of the ball," one industry professional said of top networks' reluctance to hedge their bets on new projects.

With less overall new content coming out for pilot season, it's such an important time to keep your eyes open on any new projects that you feel you would be a great fit for, and go after them right away! Find out what pilots are currently casting on the Up-To-Date Actor and discover tv series/pilots in development. If you fit the world of the project add it to your targets to be notified of any updates and changes to casting!

Award Season: Oscars Race Shaping Up, Artios Awards Moved Online

The list of films eligible for this year's Oscar race for Best Picture was officially unveiled by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last week, dropping from 366 in 2021 to 276 features this year. The main reason for the drop was the shortened eligibility period, lasting only from March 1st to December 1st, 2021. Nominees will be announced by the Academy on February 8th. See if your favorite movies of the year made the cut! 🍿

The Casting Society of America's 37th Artios Awards has made the decision to go virtual once again this year amidst the spike in COVID cases over the last few months, hanging onto their March 17th date but moving online for "an intimate member virtual celebration." Film nominations are set to drop a week from today after TV nods went out in mid-November. Be sure to keep track of which casting directors have received nominations and awards this season - reaching out to congratulate them on their achievements is a great way to stay connected!

Tony Award voters will be required to take part in unconscious bias training ahead of casting their votes for this season and beyond, helmed by inclusion strategist and VP, Inclusion Strategy at Netflix Vernā Myers. Voters will participate in an 18-part video that outlines identifying their implicit and unconscious biases that may factor into which nominees they choose each year and methods to counteract and eliminate this behavior moving forward.

Political Updates: Arts Workers Lobby for Increased Funding in 2022

The arts community at large has been the subject of several high-profile hearings in the halls of Congress over the past week, as representatives from both the AFL-CIO and Be An #ArtsHero/Arts Workers United spoke to representatives in Washington to urge for increased funding for more long-term arts support programs.

Members from the AFL-CIO sent a letter to reps on the House and Senate appropriations committees asking for increased funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, along with a bump to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as well. "The CARES Act and American Rescue Plan helped creative professionals get through the worst of the pandemic and allowed them to start to get back on stage and return to sets, but the reality is that industry employment remains below pre-pandemic levels," the letter said, which asked for funding in fiscal year 2022 to increase to $565 million for the CPB and $201 million for both the NEA and NEH each.

Artistic directors, actors, venue operators and more also spoke in front of the House Small Business Committee last week to describe the dire situation in funding for arts houses across the country, as the PPP loans, Save Our Stages and SVOG grants begin to run dry and Omicron keeps many venues closed. "The wounds the pandemic inflicted on the arts economy are deep and painful. If we want the industry to return to pre-COVID trends and continue to be an economic engine for local communities, these businesses need more support and investment," committee chair Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) said during the testimony, speaking to the important role that the arts economy has played in communities across the country. You can check out some of the testimony here 🎭

Some good news at the state level came through last week as well, with New York Governor Kathy Hochul releasing her proposed fiscal year 2023 budget that would extend the application period of the New York City Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit to June 2023, and increase the cap on the program from $100 million to $200 million. Some hope on the horizon for theatre in New York!

After an extensive investigation into last year's election of SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher, the Department of Labor found that the protests rejecting the election's validity had no merit, informed each dissenter that they would receive "a statement of reasons setting forth the basis for this decision" in the weeks ahead. "I am working diligently to do them proud and make a difference for all our members whether they voted for me or not," Drescher said in a follow-up statement.

Streaming Wars Continue: Netflix Earnings Dip As Industry Mulls Virtual Future

Netflix debuted its rocky fourth-quarter earnings in a call with investors and analysts last week, noting that the company's revenue had dropped significantly during the last few months of 2021, stumping exes as to the specific culprit for the downturn. Wall Street quickly responded to the lackluster earnings call by modifying projected earnings and scrambling for answers as to how these numbers may ripple across fellow streaming companies. The announcement came on the same day companies like Disney and ViacomCBS saw their shares dive, testing the waters for already-wary investors about the stability of streaming as a whole.

On a positive note, Netflix also announced that it will be donating $1 million to the Southern African Development Community region through its Netflix Creative Equity Scholarship Fund, created in 2021 to present funds to media agencies around the world over the next five years. The scholarships for SADC will cover living expenses, tuition, and more for individuals studying film and TV at eligible institutions in 2022.

Actors on Acting

Some of my favorite stories to hit the newswire are interviews and panels with A-list actors talking about how they approach their craft, building relationships on their projects, and the interesting (and sometimes straight-up weird) places they pull inspiration from. In a lot of ways, it's a perfect reminder that the greats are just like us - who hasn't had some great inspiration hit on a crowded subway car or belting out notes in the shower! 😉

Penelope Cruz has worked with famed director Pedro Almodóvar on seven films, an impressive feat for any actor-director pair, and even more so considering the relationship spans nearly 30 years in the industry. Cruz said that Almodóvar was a "huge influence" on where her career ended up going, saying that it was because of the relationship and work ethic between the two that kept her focused and excited to come to work.

For Jennifer Garner, her approach to developing the intricate voice for Anna Delvey in the upcoming Netflix series INVENTING ANNA involved weeks of changing the way her tongue moved, to embody the complex blend of German, British, Russian and American that Delvey has become known for. So much work was done in such a small amount of time that Garner's husband said she started sleep-talking with the accent an actor prepares, at all times of the day and night!

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Theatre

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

TV

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Theatre

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Quick Bites

Good news, New Yorkers! You can finally go to the movies and enjoy some beer, wine, or cider along with your popcorn! 🍿 The New York State Liquor Authority will now allow venues to apply for licenses that would allow viewers to take drinks to their seats, an upgrade from the current system that requires theaters to have wait staff serving beverages to patrons in seats. Honestly, sounds like the perfect pregame plan before heading out on Pete Davidson and Colin Jost's new Staten Island Ferry club 🍻 UTD party in NYC this summer, anyone?

VIDEO: Meet TINA's Pint-Sized Powerhouse, Skye Dakota Turner

PBS has launched a new virtual series aimed at celebrating some of the best-known works and artists of the American musical theatre community. BROADWAY IN CONCERT will kick off with An Evening With Lerner and Loewe on Sunday, March 6th on PBS, featuring performances of iconic songs like "I Could Have Danced All Night" and "On The Street Where You Live" from artists like Jenn Colella and Aisha Jackson. More episodes for the concert series will be announced in the months ahead 🎙

After a nationwide search spanning several months, the Geva Theatre Center has found its new artistic director in Elizabeth Williamson, who will also serve as co-CEO with executive director Christopher Mannelli. Williamson, a veteran of Broadway, Off-Broadway, and the West End, will serve as Geva's first female artistic director beginning in June. Congrats Elizabeth!

January 18, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

I hope you are having a great week. We saw a major uptick in new project and pilot announcements last week. This is an exciting indication that the sleeping giant is waking from the holiday slumber. While production itself is still in the process of gearing up due to the most recent pandemic surge, so much goes into the planning and pre-production that this wave of news is a very positive sign.

Speaking of pilot season and production, we had a blast chatting about Booking Film, TV, and Pilot work at our Ripley-Grier Masterclass last week. Thanks to everyone who tuned in and for asking some excellent questions! If you were unable to attend, you can now view the workshop on the Up-To-Date Actor. To view, log into your Up-To-Date Actor Account and click on "Workshops" from the main navigation in the upper left corner.

Make the most of this seasonal momentum and check out the recorded workshop for tips on moving your career forward and booking work with or without an agent. This workshop also has some great tips on how the Up-To-Date Actor can help you discover new projects currently casting that are a fit for your unique skills and demographics.

This week we will be chatting with the lovely folks at Actors Connection about TAXES! Come learn what deductions you can, and should be taking, as a professional actor and how the Up-To-Date Actor can help make this process effortless. And if you're reading this wondering what I'm talking about then hear me, you owe it to yourself to come to this workshop. There are so many deductions you can take on your taxes, but you MUST follow a few steps and protocols and set up your career as a business.

Have a great week!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Production & Content Demand 🎬

New Hudson River Production Studio

Last week, Lionsgate Studios opened half of their one-million square foot new production complex in Yonkers, NY. Once fully opened, the complex will be one of the largest facilities in the Northeast with Lionsgate occupying seven of the 11 soundstages. "With demand for new content greater than ever and prime studio space at a premium, we're pleased to partner with Great Point on the opportunity to become an anchor tenant of the Yonkers Studios," said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer. "They will give our television and film productions state-of-the-art East Coast sound stages with great proximity to New York City, and we look forward to them becoming an important hub for our global production activities."

Demand for Content

Speaking of the demand for new content, according to FX research the number of scripted content on TV hit a record level in 2021. This comes after the first-ever decline of scripted content in 2020. FX has been recording content type since 2002, and while the 2021 record is a great sign for production, the rise is "likely fueled by series that were delayed in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic-related production shutdowns. But it's also likely the result of several more streamers entering the game since the decade began, including Peacock, HBO Max, and a rebranded Paramount Plus, which are now humming with ever-increasing volume."

What is good for television is not necessarily good for film box offices and financing. Both specialized (Indie) and studio films took major hits in 2021 due to COVID and the rise of Video on Demand (VOD). While the jury is still out on the final return numbers, not enough time and research have happened to have a full understanding of whether VOD can have a sustaining financial impact. But a positive for indie films, who are always relatively struggling, is that they did no worse than major studio releases.

Show Me the Money!

It's no secret - follow the wave of productions concentrated in an area and you will find a hefty state-level tax credit. Last year, Georgia handed out $1.2 billion in film and TV tax credits, a record number and more than any other state. Read that again, more than...any...other...state. 🤯 "The next two largest state tax incentives are in New York and California, where the programs are each capped at $420 million a year. Both states have budgets that are about 10 times the size of Georgia's state budget."

While nowhere near that of Georgia, New York, or California, New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy signed legislation last week to expand tax credits for digital media production. This expansion is on top of legislation Murphy introduced in 2021 to expand tax credits for Film and TV and lure more production to the garden state. "Digital media projects are just as important to the entertainment industry and economy as film projects, and deserve the same opportunities to grow and thrive in our state," said State Senator Gordon Johnson, a sponsor of the legislation. "This law will give New Jersey an even more competitive edge by further establishing our state as an appealing destination for creative projects of all kinds."

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Film Festivals & Saving the Movies

As I have echoed time and time again since the pandemic began, one silver lining is that as more components of the industry go virtual from workshops to audition opportunities, you are now able to take part regardless of where you live. Last year Sundance Film Festival's hybrid virtual and in-person festival format proved very successful. So successful that the entire Sundance Film Festival will be virtual in 2022 and open to anyone anywhere. When the Festival kicks off its 11-day run this week, the virtual format means anyone in the U.S. will be able to enjoy the festival's 82-strong feature film lineup, plus panels, Q&As, and VR programming from home. Single tickets are on sale now.

However, the virtual silver lining has not been an option for all festivals and for movies in general. Here is one op-ed that suggests the way to solve and save movie theatres is to invest in regional film festivals. Very good food for thought! 🤔

Theatre: Staying Alive

It's been a rough month for theatre, Broadway in particular. Nine shows are closing (some temporarily) while others are still struggling to keep the doors open. Those that have remained open are playing to drastically reduced numbers due to cancellations with an abundance of caution. "During the week that ended Jan. 9, just 62 percent of seats were occupied. That's the lowest attendance has been since a week in 2003 when musicians went on strike, and it's a precipitous drop from the January before the pandemic when 94 percent of seats were filled during the first week after the holidays."

One Broadway theatre is taking this uncertain time to get a facelift, quite literally. The legendary Palace theatre began its 30-foot ascent last week to its new home on the third floor of the under development TSX Broadway center. Over the next six to eight weeks the 5-million pound theatre will climb a quarter of an inch per hour. Next time you're in Times Square, stop by and watch history rise. 🏗

Want to brave the storm and see a show? Here is a good FAQ of the pandemic changes to Braodway.

Theatre Training

BroadwayWorld Stage Door announced last week an expanded lineup of training opportunities from an ensemble of Broadway talent. Classes include Acting Classes, Acting Through Song Class, Career Advice, Singing Class, and more. View a list of their upcoming events.

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

TV

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

January 11, 2022

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

As winter temperatures have tightened their grip on the northeast, it's a reaffirmed message to hunker down and stay indoors. And that seems to be what most of the industry is doing right now, laying low. With Omicron still surging, many TV productions are extending their holiday hiatus from production [read more below], and theatre is fighting to stay open. Mask mandates have been extending and the industry is plowing onward.

Yesterday, for the first time since late December we noticed an uptick in the news cycle and project announcements. It is normal that the industry remains quiet until around January 15th, so rest assured that the industry is weathering this latest surge and will not come to a full stop.

All of this being said, the sleeping giant is about to wake. So... if you haven't created a game plan for 2022 and refreshed your marketing tools, what are you waiting for?! Don't waste the last few days of this holiday lull.

Upcoming events

To help you get ready for pilot season and the new year of Film/TV production we are holding a free workshop tonight with Ripley-Grier Studios at 7 PM EST. Learn how you can discover new projects that are a match with your unique skills and demographics and get ahead of the casting notice. There will also be an opportunity for you to ask any of your Up-To-Date Actor questions.

Looking forward to next week, we will be holding our annual Tax Time workshop with Actors Connection. Come learn what deductions you can, and should be taking, as a professional actor and how the Up-To-Date Actor can help make this process effortless. And if you're reading this wondering what I'm talking about then hear me, you owe it to yourself to come to this workshop. There are so many deductions you can take on your taxes, but you MUST follow a few steps and protocols and set up your career as a business.

That's all from me this week. Hope to see you later tonight at our Ripley-Grier Masterclass.

Have a great week!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Golden Globes Quietly Crowns Winners; Industry Watchful of Upcoming Live Ceremonies

With as little pizzazzas I think I've ever seen for an award show in recent memory, the Golden Globes crowned its winners this past weekend, opting for a closed-door, untelevised ceremony with virtually no press attached besides an errant series of tweets. Netflix' THE POWER OF THE DOG took home Best Picture - Drama, along with Best Director and Best Supporting Actor, while Steven Spielberg's WEST SIDE STORY walked away with three top prizes including Best Actress.

Many have quickly turned their attention to the rapidly shifting SAG, Critics Choice and Oscar landscape as many of their live events remain in question as the Omicron surge continues to rage throughout the country, though many are unsure what type of indicator the outcome of the Globes will be for the year's remaining ceremonies in terms of predicting other winners. Stay tuned - the awards race has only just begun!

Check out the full list of Golden Globes winners here 🏆

COVID Updates

Theatre

It's no surprise that live events across the country are scrambling to stay afloat in the midst of rapidly rising COVID numbers in the US and around the world. Broadway officially extended its masking and vaccination policy until at least April 30th, as well as built out the vaccine requirements to children 5 - 11 years old beginning January 29th. Several shows have canceled performances once again this week, while producers for SKELETON CREW made the decision to push back the production's opening night to January 26th after a handful of breakthrough cases in the cast. And the box office took notice: Broadway took in only $14 million in the week leading up to Christmas, compared to $42 million in the same week in 2019. Here's to hoping things start to level out sooner than later 🤞

One lighter note through all of the grim COVID news on Broadway: Swings and understudies continue to be the heroes that we've always known them to be. Meet a handful of them and hear how they came to make their Broadway debuts 🤩

TV

TV production is on the verge of a potential pause as well, with many productions eyeing up an extended holiday break to weather the Omicron storm rather than risk breakthrough cases among casts and crews. Deadline reported that several major studios were considering longer hiatuses until the numbers begin to plateau - but considering the record-setting days that New York and Los Angeles have had in the last two weeks, it's anyone's guess when production may resume 🎬

Industry Intel

Stage managers of color are invited to attend the first event of the year from Broadway & Beyond: Access for Stage Managers of Color, which will connect 80 attendees with industry professionals to discuss career opportunities and networking advice. Producers, general managers, stage managers, and more will partake in Broadway & Beyond's four events since launching in December 2020, aimed at increasing representation in all aspects of Broadway. Applications close January 18th!

A new grant program will also seek to expand the pool of Broadway designers to include more marginalized and underrepresented communities, with the help of workers currently in such positions on Broadway. The 1/52 Project encourages designers to volunteer one week of their royalties to the fund, which will go toward supporting future theatrical designers selected by the fund. Any interested applicants will be able to apply later in January, with final recipients announced on Labor Day.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has received its largest donation to the fund to date, courtesy of The Fred Ebb Foundation. $2.6 million was awarded to the organization last week, which provides dozens of services and assistance to a wide array of individuals in the performing arts. The donation is the latest in a long line set forth in Fred Ebb's will, which has provided the fund with $24.8 million to Broadway Cares since 2005.

A typical bright spot in the dreary New York winter landscape, BroadwayCon has postponed this year's event to July 8-10, as COVID cases continue to climb. "We look forward to the opportunity to come together again this summer to honor the core of this event - the passionate community of Broadway fans, performers, and creators," BroadwayCon Co-Founder Melissa Anelli wrote in a statement.

Less than two weeks after we had to say goodbye to the queen Betty White herself, news of another star taken from us has shocked the airwaves: Bob Saget, best known for his loveable role in FULL HOUSE, passed away Sunday at age 65. His castmates took to Twitter and Instagram to share memories of "the best TV dad ever." 💙

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

TV

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

January 04, 2022

Happy New Year, UTD!

I hope you had a wonderful New Year's celebration! Can you feel the year already rolling? In many ways, the industry is still a little sleepy this week, but I always feel a big shift in energy after the first weekend of the new year.

Last week I encouraged you to sit and reflect on the past year without the pressure of taking action. This week, let's start to build on that reflection with forward motion!

Put pen to paper and map out a clear year-end goal, as well as attainable month-by-month goals that work towards that larger year-end goal. But before we go forward we have to look back at where we've come.

If you haven't already, do a 2021 Year-End Review:

  • Starting with January 2021 review each month. Write down a list of successes you created both professionally and personally each month.
  • Celebrate your creative uniqueness. Own your creative path and love where you are in the process. Acknowledge what worked but also what areas still need work.
  • Did you see themes that wove throughout the year?
  • Decide what new beliefs and habits to bring with you into 2022 from 2021. What resources did you acquire in 2021 that enriched your goals and life?
  • Decide what to let go of. What beliefs and habits have you outgrown and want to release and change.

Find the gifts, the silver linings however big or small they may be from this unpredictable, unforgettable, unworldly, unimaginable year, and plan out your final moves before prepping your artistic goals for the new year.

Our goal at the Up-To-Date Actor is to help you be better informed so that you can take specific BOLD action to move your career forward.

Here's to an expansive & creative 2022! 🎊

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Upcoming Events

Mark your calendar! We have two workshops scheduled in January to help you set goals and take action in 2022!

I highly encourage you to attend our Taxes workshop. We only offer this workshop early in the year and I'm telling you....taxes should not be a source of frustration. Learn how to set up your career as a business to legitimately take advantage of the numerous deductions available to performing artists.

Industry Intel

Awards season continues to gain momentum as we approach the days of Screen Actors Guild awards, Critics Choice, and Oscars later in the winter! The SAG nominations run through this Sunday at 5 PM, at which point the committee will start making decisions on who will earn this year's nominations. Check out Variety's breakdown of this year's SAG frontrunners, as well as the current field for Writers Guild of America 2022 ceremony as well!

Streaming companies continue to throw a wrench in the works of ratings company Nielsen and its competitors, as more studios than ever are trying to split ad dollars between traditional linear blocks and streaming/direct-to-consumer outlets. The price of streaming for companies like Nielsen is an ever-shifting target of increasingly obscure and potentially unimportant metrics that the industry seems to be wondering what to do with. "For streamers, it's like they're running a buffet in Vegas - they don't care what you eat as long as you pay to be there," box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian remarked.

Looking for some new shows to get excited for in 2022? Prequels from GAME OF THRONES and LORD OF THE RINGS lead Variety's 2022 list! 🧙‍♂️

Long-time Spanish literary rights broker Scenic Rights has announced its expansion into central and eastern Europe starting this month, opening up new offices to support further expansions of its film and TV franchises in the regions. In France, a handful of industry heavyweights spoke about their successes in 2021 for the entertainment industry, at a time when box offices and theaters were unsure what audience turn-out would look like from week to week: "The way we approach content, talent relationship, the chase for IP and what is the right distribution avenue (theatrical, TV, streaming) and timing (the windowing revolution) for each project are among the things that have definitely reshaped our industry," one exec noted.

As we start zeroing in on audition season for regional theaters, summer stock, and more, now is the perfect opportunity to do a little surgery on your material and upgrade those songs and monologues. Need some inspiration? '00 classic Broadway audition songs, coming your way 🙌

The 2022 Entertainment & Performing Arts Industry Conference is coming up next week, and it's the perfect opportunity to hear about all things entertainment from speakers around the world. Hear from Tony winners, connect with like-minded industry professionals and build that network to help push your career forward this year!

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Ups and Downs for Female Filmmakers in 2021

The number of women at the helm of feature films saw a slight decrease in the past year, a new study from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film's found. Their annual Celluloid Ceiling report, which monitors the number of female filmmakers in each year's top 100 highest-grossing films, found that only 12% of the films' directors were women in 2021, down from 16% the year prior. The number of female directors was also down 1% in the top 250 highest-grossing films from 18% to 17%.

The study didn't come without its positives, however. as women accounted for one in four behind-the-scenes roles in 2021, up from 23% in 2021, an encouraging sign that more producer, cinematographer, and writer positions are being filled by women in the last year.

One Brooklyn filmmaker is looking to push the number of female directors back up with her new organization: The Future of Film is Female. Founded by Caryn Coleman, the Greenpoint-based initiative is striving to welcome more female and non-binary filmmakers into the world of cinema. Coleman said that the group's 2022 slate is already packed with previews and screenings of works from up-and-coming female filmmakers, and is eyeing up expanding to other cities in the near future 🎬

Several major studios have already greenlit films with female directors at the helm - check out the list here!

COVID Updates

Officials in New York City are doing everything they can to weather the storm of a massive spike in holiday COVID cases, laying down a private sector vaccine mandate for all "workers in New York City who perform in-person work or interact with the public in the course of business."

Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin came under fire for her recent comments about swings and understudies on Broadway in late December, with many rushing to defend and uplift the critical role that these incredible performers have always played in the theatre community, but particularly during the day-to-day uncertainty of COVID performance cancellations. WICKED's Alexandra Billings was the latest Broadway star to show her love for her fellow castmates that are frequently doing double or triple duty to keep Broadway on its feet 🎭

Closures and cancellations continue to pour in from Broadway as more shows grapple with breakthrough cases in their casts - check out the most updated list here 📜

Currently Casting

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December 28, 2021

Happy Holidays, UTD!

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday surrounded by loved ones! The last week of the year is often one of my favorites. Most of the holiday stress and work is over, and while it is hard for me to sit still, the energy is a little bit more restful and restorative. I like to use this week as a time for reflection. What were the wonderful moments from the waning year? What habits or recurring discomforts do I want to release in the coming year?

This week is a unique time where I feel the energy and excitement of goal setting, but the pressure isn't there to fully take action yet. My favorite sweet spot. I encourage you to sit down and reflect a little in this transitionary time.

Put an hour or two of real exploratory thought into the things you are proud of from 2021.

  • What areas are you not happy with your output?
  • What are little actions you can take to make some changes in 2022?

The more we can be honest with ourselves and layout small, specific, and actionable tasks the more we will see movement in our day-to-day.

As you will see below, the news cycle has slowed to a near halt this past week and will remain slow for the next week or two. This holiday email is in an abbreviated format but you can still find links to news articles below.

Lastly, I want to take this moment to say thank you. Thank you for being a part of our UTD family. With all of the ups and downs of this pandemic new-normal, the importance of community has been renewed for me. We are social beings. I believe we all need to feel seen, heard, and supported. We at the Up-To-Date Actor strive to see where you are in your path, hear your frustrations and accomplishments, and support you in your noble path to being a successful actor. We are honored to be of service to you.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, prosperous, New Year!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Year End Sale 🎉

Reminder, take advantage of our 🎉 YEAR END SALE! 🎉 Enjoy a 20% discount on any new annual paid subscriptions! The discount is applied automatically, more info can be found on your dashboard and on uptodateactor.com.

Start your New Year a little smarter and more informed. Get ahead of the casting notice. Be well informed and take bold action to move your career forward in 2022!

Upcoming Events

Mark your calendar! We have two workshops scheduled in January to help you set goals and take action in 2022!

I highly encourage you to attend our Taxes workshop. We only offer this workshop early in the year and I'm telling you....taxes should not be a source of frustration. Learn how to set up your career as a business to legitimately take advantage of the numerous deductions available to performing artists.

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


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December 21, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

First off, let me start by saying I hope you and your family are healthy and safe during the recent rise in COVID cases. Like every sector, the entertainment industry has not been untouched by Omicron's new reign. Theatres across the country are canceling performances or, in some cases, closing the show altogether. Even some Film & TV production have entered their holiday pause earlier than planned due to the rise of breakthrough cases.

Those in charge of each sector are doing everything possible to avoid shutdowns. I am hopeful that the industry will still be moving forward in the new year. But look for more and more vaccine & booster mandates. Read below for more details about how major NYC theatre institutions (I.e. The Public and The Met) are already mandating greater precautions. While mandates are no fun and can be quite controversial, two things are certain - no one wants business to shut down again and we all want to be healthy and safe.

Enjoy the next two weeks. Spend time (virtually or in person) with family and loved ones. Take care of yourself. Rest up. I hope more than anything you experience a little peace this Holiday Season.

From all of us here at Up-To-Date Actor, thank you for being a part of our growing family. We wish you a Happy Holiday and a Fantastic New Year! ❄️💫

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Year End Sale 🎉

Reminder, take advantage of our 🎉 YEAR END SALE! 🎉 Enjoy a 20% discount on any new annual paid subscriptions! The discount is applied automatically, more info can be found on your dashboard and on uptodateactor.com.

Start your New Year a little smarter and more informed. Get ahead of the casting notice. Be well informed and take bold action to move your career forward in 2022!

Upcoming Events

Mark your calendar! We have two workshops scheduled in January to help you set goals and take action in 2022!

I highly encourage you to attend our Taxes workshop. We only offer this workshop early in the year and I'm telling you....taxes should not be a source of frustration. Learn how to set up your career as a business to legitimately take advantage of the numerous deductions available to performing artists.

Awards Season

Globes Fading, TV Academy Revising Catagory Requirements

Another week, another award season round-up as we edge closer and closer to the days of Critics Choice, SAG Awards, Golden Globes, and Oscar buzz. It's an odd year for sure - NBC has dropped its broadcast of the 2022 Globes, though the HFPA still announced their nominations early this month and many around Hollywood weren't exactly busting down the door to announce their excitement of any nominations. Some argue that the Globes always stood as an outlier anyways - nominees and victors from the Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice Awards always seemed to step more in line with the eventual Oscar winners, and this year may just be the year that focus truly shifts to other ceremonies.

It's no doubt that we're in a content renaissance of sorts, with more production being undertaken than ever before, and more shows and films being released than anyone can seem to keep up with. One booming area of production this year seems to have been the indie film market, where COVID protocols seemed to step right in line with the smaller teams typically associated with Indie projects. The Film Independent Spirit Awards released their nominees this past week, drawing attention to some of the most highly anticipated indie projects of the year. The organization also released nods for indie TV shows for the second year in a row, drawing interest and ire from industry critics who believe the group should be doing more to delineate how their film and TV nominees are chosen. Check out the full list here!

In a big move ahead of its 74th award show, the Television Academy has eliminated the time requirement for comedies and dramas, in an effort to focus more on the content itself rather than pigeonholing a particular show based on run-time alone. The Academy also enacted a "no double Oscar-Emmy dipping" missive, saying that a project can't be eligible for Emmy consideration if it is placed on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences viewing platform.

The Television Academy is considering the future of its Interactive Peer Media Group, which serves as a review group to bridge the gap between traditional and digital media for the awards body. The original intention of the group was to represent "members who have an impact on interactive television programs that enable the audience to view and participate, alter, interact, and immerse in the program," though in recent years the advent of rapidly changing technology has made some call into question the group's viability. In an October letter from heads of the peer group to Academy governors, members shared their urgency for reformatting the group's purpose, arguing that they still had a purpose in the digital age.

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Production & Streaming Updates

The Saudi Film Commission is the latest group to throw out an impressive film rebate program in an effort to attract more productions to the country. Offering a 40% cash rebate on qualified spending for any local or international projects, the country's offering is among the highest in the world, being extended to feature films and documentaries in the years ahead.

Lionsgate Studios is set to open the doors for its latest production location in Yonkers, NY, a massive 100,000+ square foot studio that will be one of the largest of its kind in the Northeast. The company has already landed a contract with Starz' RUN THE WORLD to begin production in early 2022 and will open up its other soundstages to interested companies and educational institutions, as well as potential international production groups.

NBCUniversal is retooling its theatrical release window once again, leaning on the benefit of its positioning with streaming service Peacock to make most Universal titles available within 45 days of their releases in movie theaters. The DOWNTON ABBEY film DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA, THE 355, and more will be among the first round of movies to test out the streaming window, with execs hoping that the duel release schedule will further entice viewers to take full advantage of their Peacock subscriptions.

WarnerMedia and Discovery are eyeing up their own updated streaming release windows, assuming the merger between the two media giants goes through next year. Execs for the two firms still regard theatrical releases as "the top of the funnel" for HBO Max and Discovery+, hoping to become a worthy opponent to Netflix by breaking the 200 million subscribers threshold in 2022. "Our job is to grow the right side of the company — the streaming business, the motion picture business, and the TV production business — faster than the traditional business declines," Discovery CEO David Zaslav said.

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New York Theatre: Omicron Spikes

Cancellations, Testing, and Booster Mandates

As COVID numbers continue to rise around the country and particularly in NYC, many are wondering how the industry's already strict COVID protocols will continue to evolve as several shows announced cancellations over the last several days. The Broadway League has already said that they are not considering a full-fledged shutdown - League President Charlotte St. Martin reinforced the efficacy of the Leagues testing and tracing measures over the weekend: "I'm sorry that four shows have to go down, but I'm also proud that we have 28 shows performing."

Keeping shows open during this newest surge in cases is a moving target. The League has set up BwayToday.com, which will catalog which shows are still performing on a given day, as well as any special holiday schedules in the weeks ahead. The Rockettes have already canceled their remaining performances for the year, and The Public Theater officially began requiring a negative COVID test in addition to proof of vaccination through January 30th, 2022. All staff, performers, and audience members of the Metropolitan Opera will be required to receive their booster shots by January 17th, 2022. Needless to say, there's a lot to keep track of these days! So if you're planning a holiday visit to a show in New York this week, be sure to stay up-to-date with the latest protocols, and check out a running list of show cancellations and postponements here.

Not all hope is lost for the world of New York theatre, however. NYC & Company announced a new program aimed at welcoming visitors to the city through mid-February by offering discounted hotel rooms, 2-for-1 tickets for Broadway and other entertainment venues, prix-fixe menus at restaurants across the city, and more. Families looking to visit the city can check out the Met's newest iteration of CINDERELLA, a 90-minute pared-down of Massenet's take on the children's classic, written in English with the hopes of getting children interested in opera. And those interested in exploring the long history of Irish arts in NYC should check out the newly opened Irish Arts Center, a $60 million endeavor years in the making that will soon play host to dozens of lectures, shows, and other Irish-centered programming.

Industry Intel

Multi-award nominee Michael Sheen has announced that he will operate as a "not-for-profit actor" moving forward, pledging to donate most of his earnings to social causes. "I'm at the stage of my life and career where I have a window of opportunity that will probably never be this good again," Sheen said. "I'm able to get people in a room, I can open doors. I don't want to look back and think, I could have done something with that platform. I could have done something with that money."

Actors Connection is giving us the gift of casting director feedback this week with a list of adjustments they've heard CDs give during their classes. It's always a great time to tune into industry advice!

Congress is once again reviving the Creative Rights Caucus, a joint effort between congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) and Republican co-chair Drew Ferguson (R-GA) aimed at spreading advocacy and awareness for arts workers. "I helped to found the CRC because I wanted more of my Congressional colleagues to understand that the creative industries aren't just movie stars and high powered producers, but that these are a core part of our economy," Chu said in a statement. "The creative industries are a vital part of the economy all across the country, from California to Georgia... I look forward to collaborating together to protect the rights of creators and help showcase their important work to our colleagues in Congress."

We lost so many TV greats throughout 2021 - check out a full recap from TVLine 💜

With dozens of Broadway shows triumphantly reopening in the last few months, Playbill chatted with a handful of performers to get their perspective on how they felt when the curtain finally went up once again. "It was like meeting an old, familiar friend. Your senses are overloaded with lights, fog, and the roar of a 1,000+ people, but then you remember this is exactly where you're supposed to be, and this is exactly when you were meant to open," Anne Uzele of SIX wrote, after having just missed their opening night at the start of the pandemic.

Are you a musical theatre writer looking to get your newest work noticed? The National Alliance for Musical Theatre is once again opening up submissions for its Festival of New Musicals, slated to be held in October 2022. Past shows from the festival include ORDINARY DAYS, COME FROM AWAY, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, and THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE. Applications close January 10th!

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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

After an in-depth evaluation from diversity consultant ReadySet over the past year, the Television Academy has announced plans to establish a DEI task force to further consider the group's findings and develop strategy to continue moving forward with its recommendations and best-practices. The initial findings from ReadySet revealed a lack of transparency and representation among historically underrepresented groups within the organization, which will serve as one of the main pillars for the group's workflow in the months ahead.

A new initiative from Janet Yang Productions and Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment will spotlight AAPI and non-binary filmmakers next year. The Short Film Challenge will select four winners to receive production grants of $15,000 to develop their work, and all submissions must include an AAPI female or non-binary character in the lead role. The winners will also receive networking opportunities from Janet Yang, as well as the chance to send in their work to other producers and platforms. Applications are open now through January 26th!

Circle of Confusion's Writers Discovery Fellowship is entering its second year, offering a new batch of up-and-coming diverse filmmakers the chance to have their projects analyzed and developed by folks in the industry. Interested applicants must submit a long-form pilot draft, which they will then develop with a given mentor. The first four months of the program will feature working sessions to develop a new pilot, which will then be ready to submit by the end of the six months. "The team at Circle of Confusion is so grateful for the talent and engagement of our inaugural class, and we are looking forward to continuing our success into the coming years," partner Lawrence Mattis said.

The 2022 iteration of TEDxBroadway will feature a new crop of young professionals hoping to make their mark on the Broadway community. Members of the Young Professionals Program will be on-hand to share their experiences and insights as up-and-coming voices on Broadway and to offer their opinions on shaping the future of the industry. Applications are open now through January 7th!

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Currently Casting

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Projects in Development

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Film

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December 14, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

Are you feeling the weight of the holiday rush? I am! The rush I'm talking about is the culmination of trying to get as much work done as possible, with dwindling daylight hours, and surmounting pressure of holiday expectation. I look forward to the inevitable slowdown in a week or so and am thankful for the lack of parties and social gatherings this year. 2021 has been exhausting and I for one, hope to go into 2022 caught up and a teeny tiny bit rested 🤞

Annie and I had a great time yesterday hosting our Booking Film/TV Work & Pilot Season Prep workshop. For those who missed it, we will be holding a second session tomorrow 12/15 @ 3:00 PM EST with our friends over at Actors Connection. This will be our last workshop of the year, so pop in and learn some tips on how to start 2022 with clarity and focus.

Upcoming Events

Year End Sale 🎉

Lastly, to help you be more empowered and informed in 2022, we're throwing a 🎉 YEAR END SALE! 🎉 Enjoy a 20% discount on any new annual paid subscriptions! The discount is applied automatically, more info can be found on your dashboard and on uptodateactor.com. Get ahead of the casting notice. Be well informed and take bold action to move your career forward in 2022!

Have a great week!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Awards Season

Despite ongoing restructuring and turbulent press over the past year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association forged ahead with its announcement of the 2022 Golden Globes nominations yesterday morning. The group's nearly 80-year-old award show is currently without a broadcast home, as NBC officially ended its partnership after reports surfaced of the HFPA's startling lack of Black membership. The fallout led to over 100 publicity firms releasing statements condemning the organization's questionable track record, with many vowing to boycott the 2022 Globes altogether.

Seemingly unfazed by the industry backlash, the HFPA moved forward with their nomination ceremony, as president Helen Hoehne revealed the categories via livestream Monday morning and spoke to the "a year of change and reflection" that the group has been experiencing since the allegations first surfaced. BELFAST from Focus Features and Netflix' POWER OF THE DOG picked up the most nominations for films with seven each, with HBO's SUCCESSION snagging the most among TV shows with five. Read the full list of nominees here!

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Production Updates

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy wants everyone to know just how great his nearly three-year-old tax incentives are for productions in the state, and we can't blame him: Mayim Bialik chose to bring her LA-set series AS SICK AS THEY MADE US to Jersey, along with Halle Berry's directorial debut BRUISED. "[W]e are extremely competitive as it relates to incentives," Murphy said of the state's programs and offerings. "And I would say as part of that, I'm proud of things like the diversity bonus — so it's not just competitive in a dollar and cents sense, but it's consistent with our values."

The fight for production real estate is only growing stronger as more and more studios, networks, and streamers greenlight more projects, and the demand for high-quality film locations isn't going anywhere but up. Longtime real estate developer Michael Hackman spoke about the success of his multiple studio investments across North America: "[E]very time I see the sets, I am absolutely in awe of the talent that exists in this industry. The amount of talent and how hard everyone works below the line is incredible; that is the most impressive part of the business."

The production boom isn't central to just the US. Soundstages are cropping up around the UK at a record pace: Almost $1.3 billion went into soundstage construction from 2017-2020 around the country, and 2021-2022 is already expected to be another record year for growth. Projects like Shinfield Studios, which just received the greenlight to build an additional 18 soundstages that will house clients like Disney starting in 2022, are leading the charge in areas around London, reinforcing the titanic amount of production coming through the country in the next few years 🎬

Into the world of NFTs: Lawyers for Quentin Tarantino have responded to Miramax's lawsuit against the writer/director for planning to auction off seven exclusive scenes from PULP FICTION as NFT's, calling the studio's action "wrong - plain and simple." Tarantino's lawyers went on to state that the previously agreed-to contract with Miramax gave the writer full authority over his own words, a point that the studio says could set a precedent for other writers to break their contracts and develop or sell studio-controlled content. NFT's, am I right?

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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Audiences have been collectively embracing Stephen Spielberg's turn at WEST SIDE STORY during opening weekend, as the film opened to a strong showing across the country heading into the holiday season. Spielberg spoke about his decision to omit subtitles for any of the Spanish dialogue in the movie: "If I subtitled the Spanish I'd simply be doubling down on the English and giving English the power over the Spanish. This was not going to happen in this film, I needed to respect the language enough not to subtitle it." Film critic David Ehrlich praised the move from Spielberg, remarking that it "offers a richer sense of context than any previous version of the show has been allowed before."

Calling all female horror writers! The NYX Horror Collective has teamed up with Stowe Story Labs to offer a new fellowship to women over 40 to work on their material with the help of top writers, producers, and filmmakers around the world. The program will cover attendance at the Stowe Narrative Lab, as well as access to industry software and consultations with an entertainment attorney. Applications for their 2022 labs are now open!

One of the most exciting things about this past year's new crop of shows has been the notable uptick in representation across the board. Particularly in the way that female characters are taking aim at tired, outdated perceptions of power and politics in historically white-male-dominated spaces, shows like SUCCESSION, HACKS, and SQUID GAME sought to turn the typical narrative on its side, and have done so quite perfectly. "It's almost impossible to navigate the system no matter who you are, but if you added on the extra layer of the implications of being a person of color in America, it might just be actually impossible," Margaret Qualley said of her character in MAID, speaking to barriers that continue to exist for women, particularly women of color, in America.

A new initiative aimed at addressing and eliminating the arts education gap among historically underrepresented communities is set to launch thanks to a boost from the Education Theatre Foundation. The Pathway program will connect students in communities of color with industry professionals of color to create works that address racial equity in the US. Students at Aiken High School in Cincinnati and Tri-Cities High School in Atlanta will then perform FELA! THE MUSICAL and DISNEY'S ALADDIN JR., through donated licenses and production costs. "Pathway aims to break down barriers for youth in low-income communities of color to experience those benefits, because the evidence is clear: Students who experience theatre in school are more likely to succeed in life," ETF chief content officer Allison Dolan said.

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On Broadway

Broadway houses have officially extended their vaccine requirements to all audience members ages 5-11, as a part of a larger initiative from NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to extend vaccine requirements to restaurants and other areas in the city, effective today. Children 5-11 will need to show proof of at least one dose of a vaccine, while everyone ages 12 and up must be double vaccinated.

The Tony Awards Administration Committee met last week to rule on the first round of eligibility requirements ahead of the 2021-2022 Tony season. The group approved lead acting category eligibility for all members of SIX as well as the three brothers of the LEHMAN BROTHERS cast, as well as allowed Ruben Santiago-Hudson's LACKAWANNA BLUES to be considered in the Best Revival category, among other decisions. Won't be long before we have a new group of Tony nominations on our hands 🏆

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


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December 07, 2021

Happy December, UTD!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving 🦃 and, for those who celebrate, a Happy Hanukkah! 🕎

We lost a giant with the passing of Stephen Sondheim last week. Read more below on how the industry has been celebrating his life in Memorium. Thank you Sondheim for the music and for changing Musical Theatre for the better!

The last push of the year is in full drive! As we wrap up 2021 and look to 2022 I am excited for what lies ahead. Personally, 2021 was a wonderful but very disruptive year. I look forward to what I hope and expect will be an expansive New Year. I plan on building upon the many lessons I've learned and am already setting big goals for 2022. Go big or go home! As always I would encourage you to use these last three weeks to set BOLD intentions for the New Year.

Due to popular demand, we have scheduled a second session of our upcoming workshop BOOKING FILM/TV WORK & PILOT SEASON PREP. The new session will be with our friends at Actors Connection on December 15th. Both events are free and require registration. We hope you can make it to one or both of them! They will be a great opportunity to define a 2022 plan with clarity and focus. You will also be able to ask any questions about Up-To-Date Actor features.

Looking forward to 2022, our annual Tax Time Workshop will be at Actors Connection this January. Learn how you can take more deductions off of your taxes and how you can easily populate reports with the Up-To-Date Actor. Taxes shouldn't be painful! We're here to help you understand the process and take advantage of the specific allowances for performing artists.

Upcoming Events

Have a great week!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Awards Season Preview

Heading into the cold winter months means longer nights, lots of candles and blankets, and of course, award season coming into full swing. We've rounded up some of the outstanding performances that are already receiving awards and buzz at the early season festivals, and are looking forward to continuing our full coverage of this year's must-watch shows and movies in the months ahead 🏆

The Casting Society of America has also announced the nominees for the 37th annual Artios Awards, which recognizes excellence in casting for film, TV, and theatre. Pro tip: Check out the full list of nominees and start watching which casting folks are up for awards this season, and start prepping messages to send out to congratulate the casting director on their work! Showing that you're on top of your industry game is just another way to stay on the radar of any casting offices you're hoping to meet with 🎬

Film/TV Festivals

Theatre Awards

Coming Up: SAG, Oscars

International Production

Women in media suffered a major blow in Afghanistan last week as the Taliban issued a new list of guidelines that continue to tighten restrictions on women in TV dramas, soap operas, and broadcasts in the country. The directive also limits the type of programming allowed in the country, a somber call-back to former days of Taliban control in Afghanistan that continue to hang heavy in the memory of civil rights groups fighting to keep the strides made for women in the country intact. "Art is a beautiful weapon to change without killing or hurting people, that we were using to change society and extremists’ minds," Afghan actress Leena Alam said.

More International News:

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

SAG-AFTRA announced plans Sunday to establish a committee to prevent sexual harassment on projects nationwide. Union president Fran Drescher hailed the move as the latest in a series of steps that SAG-AFTRA has taken to address allegations of harassment in the workplace: "I want to ensure that we can do everything within our power to protect our members and ensure they feel safe in their workplace, both physically and mentally. This is the time and place for zero tolerance for any action that degrades or objectifies women and men of all ages who simply wish to do a good job for their employers in a safe and respectful environment."

The beleaguered Hollywood Foreign Press Association continues to perform its due diligence in responding to industry backlash over the last year, with new Chief Diversity Officer Neil Phillips leading the charge towards what many hope will be real change for the organization. "[This is an organization that got called out because of missteps, transgression, and deservedly so," Phillips said in a recent interview. "They should have been, and then they have responded."

New Organizations Launched, Aimed at Increasing Onscreen Diversity and Representation

Words Matter: The Importance of Utilizing Inclusive Language

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Industry Intel

Investigators and the industry at large are still trying to piece together the details of the shooting on the RUST set that took the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The film's star and producer Alec Baldwin sat down with ABC News in his first interview since the incident, remaining adamant that he did not pull the trigger on the prop gun and remains at a loss for how live rounds found their way onto set. Ammunition supplier Seth Kenney of PDQ Arm & Prop also spoke with ABC about the process used to vet dummy rounds before sending them to productions, saying that "It’s not a possibility that [the live rounds] came from PDQ or from [Kenney] personally."

Actors on Acting

Regional Theatre

Politics

COVID Updates

Many of the top theatre professionals from across the country have been singing the praises of New York Senator Chuck Schumer for his relentless pursuit of passing the Save Our Stages act last year, which freed up $15 million in funds that have since gone to keep live entertainment venues afloat during COVID. "Senator Schumer is a champion for the Arts who understands the profound impact of Broadway on the overall health of New York City and the world," Actors Fund CEO Joe Benincasa remarked. "What arts workers do on stage and behind the scenes matter to him."

More COVID News

In Memoriam: Stephen Sondheim

The entertainment community continues to honor the memory of Stephen Sondheim as thousands gathered in Times Square last week to bring his song "Sunday" to life, a star-studded, teary-eyed tribute to the man who helped shape musical theatre into what it is today. A dimming of the Broadway marques is set for tomorrow evening at 6:30 PM. Check out more of the industry reaction below:

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November 23, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving Week, UTD!

I hope that you have a lovely weekend planned with Friends and Family. The news cycle already started to wind down this week in anticipation of the holiday. We'll be taking the week off from our weekly email next week. Active members will still receive daily notifications and we'll be back with a vengeance the following Tuesday, December 7th.

Also, if you haven't already signed up for our Free Workshop on December 13th @ 3 PM ET. We'll be talking about how to book Film & TV and get ready for the 2022 Pilot Season. We will also answer questions on using the Up-To-Date Actor and how you can better use all of the vast information and features available. Hope you can make it!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Production Updates: Toronto Film & TV Receives Boost, COVID Testing Costs Highlighted

Any producing company looking to launch a new film or TV project should plan to add about 5% to its production budget for COVID protocols, as a new study from the California Film Commission sought to quantify the financial burden that COVID testing and safety measures brought to productions in the state. Larger budget projects had to flex up to 6.5% of their budgets for COVID compliance, while small shoots and TV shows landed closer to 4.25%, all accounting for testing services, safety officers, set transportation, and medical workers.

Touring companies and Broadway productions continue to revise their COVID protocols to reflect the transmission rates in the area, with experts recommending tours test their members at least two times per week for medium- and high-risk areas. Broadway productions are following suit, as NYC remains a high-risk environment and some companies are testing upwards of six times per week to head off any potential outbreaks within the casts. ALADDIN and CHICKEN & BISCUITS have so far been the only two Broadway companies to shut down production after COVID breakthrough cases were reported to the public.

Toronto will be adding a shiny new production studio in its Port Lands district courtesy of LA-based Hackman Capital Partners, set to feature 8 new state-of-the-art sound stages, as well as office and workshop space. The $250 million price tag is the largest investment in Toronto's film and TV industry in over 20 years, joining Hackman's impressive portfolio of spaces in Culver City, Astoria, and the Bronx.

Streaming News: Paramount+ On The Rise, Netflix Reveals Top 10 Data

ViacomCBS's relative streaming newbie Paramount+ had its "most successful week ever" last week, posting a high of one million new subscribers, even though the company has yet to reveal specific numbers for the service itself. ViacomCBS announced that their total streaming community was floating around 47 million earlier in November, but that figure also included viewership from Showtime, BET+, and Noggin.

The announcement from ViacomCBS came just a day after Netflix announced it would begin releasing detailed metrics of its top 10 programs in the US and abroad, in response to many in the industry arguing that the company was cherry-picking data to bolster its numbers. Top10.Netflix.com will serve as the official home for the lists of film and TV shows receiving the most aggregate number of viewership hours, a departure from the company's previous system of ranking shows based on which programs received at least 2 minutes of viewership. Critics are still wary of the repackaged data, saying that the seemingly promising move towards increased transparency still only promotes the company's most popular titles and sweeps its original content flops under the rug 👀

Industry Intel

RUST script supervisor Mamie Mitchell filed the second in what may become several lawsuits against the producing team for the embattled indie film, calling out star Alec Baldwin for his negligence in handling the gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. "Mr. Baldwin chose to play Russian Roulette with a loaded gun without checking it and without having the armorer do so," the filing read, while also naming armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, first AD David Halls and other team members as complicit in the events leading up to Hutchins' death. The Santa Fe Sheriff's Department remains in contact with cast and crew members for its investigation of the film shoot, as the industry calls for stricter on-set firearms protections continues to grow.

The winter awards season is already beginning to ramp up as Variety has announced their yearly Contenders event will resume in-person in New York on December 4th. Reserving the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens for their day-long coverage of this year's hottest films, the entertainment group will welcome dozens of studios, creatives and actors to discuss their projects and share their favorite movies of the year so far. Registration is now open!

Crews are currently working to spruce up the iconic Hollywood sign, in anticipation for the attraction's 100th birthday in 2023. The Hollywood Sign Trust completed the first phase of the restoration earlier this month, which uncovered some of the support structure for the original sign built in 1923 that initially served as an ad campaign for the "Hollywoodland" housing development. Who knew! 🏡

HARRY POTTER fans, rejoice! Members of the original cast have reunited for HARRY POTTER 20TH ANNIVERSARY: RETURN TO HOGWARTS, celebrating the anniversary of the series' first film and set to stream New Year's Day on HBO Max. The special will feature exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and commentary from over a dozen cast members, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. An exclusive first look at the new doc will air this Sunday as a part of the HARRY POTTER: HOGWARTS TOURNAMENT OF HOUSES game show on TBS and Cartoon Network 🧙‍♀️

LISTEN: Longtime friend of the UTD family Gina Femia sat down with American Theatre Magazine's Brian James Polak to discuss her life as a playwright, which has included stints at Playwrights Horizons, MCC, Playwrights' Center, and more. We encourage you to take some time to listen to this lovely interview with Gina to hear about her process and where her career is headed. Congrats Gina! 🧡

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) has revealed its third annual group of writers selected for its CAPE List, in partnership with The Black List. The 10 scripts featured a lead character of Asian and/or Pacific Island heritage, "as well as authentic, accurate, and inclusive Asian and Pacific Islander representation that if removed, would significantly alter or affect the story." The stories are now set to be read by studio execs from companies like A-Major Media and Annapurna, with the option for the writers to meet with an exec from each of the sponsoring organizations.

Time's Up continues to navigate rough waters as the organization announced it would be laying off the majority of its 25 staff members, along with overseeing the resignation of the current interim CEO. The group continues to restructure its approach after a turbulent fall muddled with scandal after news broke of the former CEO's involvement with the Andrew Cuomo sexual harassment investigation. An initial set of interviews with dozens of individuals connected with Times Up found that many believe the group has lost focus on its original mission, engaging too deeply at times with certain political affiliations and ignoring the bigger-picture equality and racial justice work that it had initially pursued.

Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne discussed his involvement with the 2015 movie THE DANISH GIRL, in which Redmayne portrayed Lili Elbe, one of the first individuals to undergo sex reassignment surgery. "I wouldn’t take it on now. I made that film with the best intentions, but I think it was a mistake," Redmayne said in a recent interview, going on to note that we must continue to push for authenticity in casting stories that have little or no track record of being told on the big screen yet.

Canadian-led SeriesFest will spearhead a new initiative aimed at increasing representation within its own ranks at future programs and festivals. Inclusion Initiative: From Start to Screen will support executives and creators applying to the organization's events throughout the year, offering them access to workshops, pitch sessions, panel discussions, and more, all with the aim of increasing the diversity of their year-round programs. "[W[e believe that we will not only reach closer to these goals by creating opportunities to help shepherd the next generation of content creators and executives into the festival but also influence much needed changes within the industry," co-founders Randi Kleiner and Kaily Smith Westbrook said.

RUTHERFORD FALLS showrunner Sierra Teller Ornelas has been loving the success that the show's freshman run on Peacock has been enjoying at large, but more specifically the positive response it has received from the Native American community. A through-line for the show has always been the importance of showing off the ornate artistry of Native craftspeople in the jewelry that many of the characters wear, featuring work from dozens of creators that have been spurring a flood of support from Native viewers on social media. "When RUTHERFORD FALLS, streaming now on Peacock, was picked up to series I knew this was a chance for my two loves, Native artistry and television, to finally meet on the same level," Ornelas wrote for Variety.

APPLY NOW: DreamWorks Theatricals and Music Theatre International (MTI) are now accepting submissions for their Emerging Writers Program, which will team up diverse groups of lyricists, composers, and writers to develop new DreamWorks material to be distributed by MTI. Applications due December 22nd!

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Currently Casting

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Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


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November 16, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

I know I'm a broken record but, where does time go?! I can't believe it is already the middle of November 😱 With the holidays fast approaching, I find myself grasping for time. Normally, I view the Holiday season as a time to just try to keep up and finish any outstanding projects, but this year I feel it more than ever.

On a personal note, many of you know that 2021 was an insane year for me. In addition to having a baby, my husband and I experienced water damaged in our apartment and have been displaced for the better part of the last six months. Well, I am thrilled to say that we are finally moving home! 🏡 So... this year, more than ever, I feel that a huge episode is coming to completion.

As I've mentioned in these intros, we at Up-To-Date have been working at creating better habits and holding ourselves accountable. Creating clear goals has helped me stay focused through these chaotic last few months. I encourage you as well to use these last 45 days and set a few clear, attainable, goals for the new year.

To help you do that, we will be hosting our last workshop of the year on December 13th. The workshop is free but space is limited and registration is required. Mark your calendars and hope to see you there!

Create a great week!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Despite a Rift, IATSE Ratifies Contract

The embattled IATSE contract landscape continued to log discord this past week as an increasing number of members around Hollywood voiced their displeasure with the agreements, and threatened to vote down the measure over the weekend. One growing point of contention has been the messaging from IATSE President Matthew Loeb, who took to the union's website to plead with members to "review the information on the new agreement and vote in favor of its ratification."

Many members feel that Loeb's overt enthusiasm for the new plan flies directly in the face of the cohort of individuals who do not believe the new contract does enough to address their concerns. "The messaging we’re receiving... has been so polarized and enthusiastic in recommending a 'Yes' vote that it has come off as condescending and disrespectful of the rank-and-file membership," member Brandy Tannahill said. The vote actually deliberated on two contracts - the Basic Agreement, which operates 13 of Hollywood's local groups, and the Area Standard Agreement, covering 23 locals outside of LA.

Opponents of the current contract also pointed to the tragic loss of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of RUST as proof that stricter on-set protocols may have prevented the events leading up to her death. Local 600, the International Cinematographers Guild, has been pushing members to vote "Yes" on the new contract, urging them to then look ahead to the 2024 union elections to enact change among leadership. "Making decisions that impact not just your future but the future of thousands of members and their families is a huge responsibility," Local 600 president John Lindley and national ED Rebecca Rhine wrote to members. "Elect candidates who are willing to work hard, have a stake in, and will fight for what matters to working members."

UPDATE: Yesterday, IATSE members voted to ratify the new Film & TV contracts with the AMPTP. Under the electoral college system the union uses for such ratification vote the much closer that usual vote was 359 (56%) to 282 (44%), out of 641 total delegate votes from the the grand total of 36 local unions national wide that were eligible.

Industry Intel

As we head into the depths of winter and the whisperings of awards season begin to trickle down through the critics ether, some are advocating for the Television Academy to consider revising its eligibility period for the Primetime Emmys to come more into view with the remainder of the winter TV awards that utilize a calendar rather than broadcast TV framework. While the current setup does allow for the winter award programs to receive their own time in the spotlight away from the Emmys, the effect of creating essentially two TV awards seasons - winter and Emmys - still leaves something to be desired for diehard critics of the small screen.

Acclaimed Hollywood cinematographer and filmmaker Joan Churchill received the DOC NYC's Lifetime Achievement Award at the organization's documentary film festival last week, the largest of its kind in the country. "With her, the camera is a character," artistic collaborator and husband Alan Barker pointed out. "It's a part of the action, and she relates to the people she’s filming while she’s filming." Churchill's long career spans over 50 years of film production, working on titles the Oscar-nominated LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM and BIGGIE & TUPAC.

Want to stay on top of some of Hollywood's names to watch? Check out Variety's New Leaders in Hollywood for 2021!

Emilio Estevez broke his silence about his exit from season two of the MIGHTY DUCKS reboot, noting that a combination of "creative differences" and disputes over his contract led to producers at Disney not picking up his option for the second installment of GAME CHANGERS. Revealing that he had contracted COVID right at the beginning of the pandemic last March and subsequently endured months of Long Haul Syndrome, Estevez was clear that rumors swirling about him being anti-vax are not true, instead stating that he was "anti-bully" and did not see eye-to-eye with production on some COVID safety protocols being discussed for the second season.

Washington, D.C.'s storied Mosaic Theater Company of D.C. has named Reginald L. Douglas its new artistic director, wrapping up a months-long search nationwide. "Together we will produce plays and programs, made for and with our community, that ignite thoughtful conversation, center artists and audiences of all backgrounds and neighborhoods, and value empathy, collaboration, and joy as vital to our success," Douglas said in a statement.

The film industry may have an old friend making a comeback to the bundled viewing market: Moviepass, the defunct subscription service that soared to titanic heights in 2018 for its $9.95/month price tag to watch a movie a day in theaters, was purchased out of bankruptcy by former CEO Stacy Spikes last week. While details for a potential revival of the service remain minimal, Spikes vowed that the mistakes that led to the company's closure in 2019 would not be repeated.

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Streaming Wars: Disney+ Day Sets Slate, Netflix Claims Top Market Share

All the pomp and circumstance that Disney could muster was on hand for the company's Disney+ Day last week, celebrating the streaming platform's second birthday with a slew of announcements about upcoming films and series from across the Disney catalog. Truthfully, the content itself made for a bit of a muted affair, as many of the presented titles had either already been announced, or received little in the way of substantive first looks. Personally, I was holding out for just a little glimpse at the upcoming OBI-WAN KENOBI series with Ewan McGregor, but the company only dropped a quick behind-the-scenes glimpse at what we can expect at next year's premiere.

Check out the full breakdown of releases and announcements from Disney+ Day here 🐭

During the company's earnings call earlier in the week, Disney CEO Bob Chapek revealed that the company had only added an additional 2.1 million subscribers since the last call in August, saying the effects of the pandemic on production are still being felt in its content schedule. In addition to its dozens of new projects that received previews during Disney+ Day, Chapek also shared that the streamer is hoping to bolster its international and preschool content in the upcoming year to keep up with its competitors. And rightfully so - Netflix snagged the top market valuation on the same day that Disney was sharing a peek at its upcoming slate, capitalizing on Disney's 7% drop in share price and landing above Disney's $290 billion market cap at an impressive $302.4 billion.

The House of Mouse may also not be done with exploring a theatrical day-and-date release model for some of its upcoming films, a move that Chapek believes will lend flexibility to the company's theatrical release strategy and account for the return of family films receiving theater-only releases. "While COVID will be in the rearview mirror, God willing, I think change in consumer behavior will be more permanent,” Chapek said. “We’re watching very, very carefully different types of movies to see how the different components of the demographics of that market come back." The company plans to continue investing in production sites across the country, a move that earned the laud of California Governor Gavin Newsom in a conference praising companies like Disney, Hulu, and Peacock that have stuck around the Golden State through the pandemic.

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RUST Producers Sued for Negligence

Gaffer Serge Svetnoy is taking the producing team of RUST to task for general negligence during the production process, filing a complaint against producer and star Alec Baldwin, embattled armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, first AD David Halls and more. The statement addresses the questions that many in Hollywood have been asking for weeks: "[T]here was no reason for a live bullet to be placed in that .45 Colt revolver to be present anywhere on the Rust set, and the presence of a bullet in a revolver posed a lethal threat to everyone in its vicinity." The legal team for Gutierrez-Reed quickly responded, saying that the armorer is "being framed" for the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and the current proceedings are "sabotage" against her and her work on the production.

The Arts Welcome Back International Travelers

With the news that vaccinated international travelers will officially be allowed to return to the US for the first time since early 2020, the arts scene across New York City is eagerly awaiting visitors from across the globe to populate theaters, museums, and restaurants once more. "We reopened in August 2020, but have been missing one critical thing — you, our international visitors," a full-page ad in the New York Times read yesterday, the newest campaign from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to welcome folks from around the world back to its halls.

And Broadway, Film, and TV are all right in step. Producers from the UK have been flooding pitch meetings in the US over the past week, while officials from The Broadway League announced that vaccinated international travelers who have received any "mix-and-match" combo of FDA or WHO-approved jabs will be permitted in all 41 Broadway houses. The League also announced that the current vaccine mandate will be tentatively extended through February 28th, 2022, at which point the protocols will once again be revisited.

Visitors taking the train in NYC will also be greeted by a new ad campaign, echoing the 1977 "The Only Sure Way to Make It to Broadway" posters that featured a handful of the biggest acts on Broadway at the time. The 2021 version features Danny Berstein (MOULIN ROUGE), Jordan Fisher (DEAR EVAN HANSEN), Rob McClure (MRS. DOUBTFIRE), and more.

With the League's reversal on keeping a lid on Broadway grosses this season, the most recent numbers for shows through October and early November continue to look promising. Shows played at 81.5% capacity in the first week of November, with an overall attendance of 83.9% capacity since the official reopening in August. Broadway is back, baby 🎭

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The Black TV & Film Collective has joined forces with The Parity Project in an effort to combine their resources and provide a new level of support for the Black filmmaking community. Moving forward as The Black TV & Film Collective, the group will continue to focus on creating networking and workshop opportunities for Black film and TV creatives, with the goal of addressing the systemic racism present throughout Hollywood today. "We are operating at the forefront of leveraging digital technologies to train, connect and empower Black creatives from around the globe, with the intention of removing as many barriers as possible that have historically kept us out," BTFC co-founder Hurriyah Muhammad said.

GREY'S ANATOMY welcomed its first non-binary cast member last week as E. R. Fightmaster came onboard as Dr. Kai Bartley, the newest addition to the show's 18th season. "It is an honor. It’s really exciting for me," Fightmaster told Variety. "Being able to become some kind of representation for non-binary people — of course, I don’t represent every shade of non-binary, but I represent mine — and being able to be that on screen, for whoever needs it, is really, really rewarding." GREY'S has a long history of diversity in its ranks, which Fightmaster says has made their transition into Grey Sloan Hospital that much more seamless. "[The writers]have been very well-versed in writing full characters, full people that have their diversity, but are also human beings.... it showed me that the writers were going to be able to treat this character with the amount of respect I could possibly hope for."

Applications are now being accepted for the next round of scholarships from Broadway Advocacy Coalition's Cody Renard Richard Scholarship Program. Chosen participants will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to NYC for mentoring this year, along with a $5,000 scholarship and sessions focused on mentorship, social advocacy, and community building. Submissions are being accepted through December 5th!

Currently Casting

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Film

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Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

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TV

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November 09, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

It's an exciting week here at UTD! Our associate Sean Gregory hosted an Instagram Live yesterday answering your questions and showing folks how to use many of the features on the Up-To-Date Actor. Follow @uptodatetheatricals to catch the next one. Look for Sean on our IG Live Mondays at 7 PM ET.

I super enjoyed watching the NYC Marathon coverage this past weekend. As someone who has never been interested in running (🙋🏻‍♀️ volunteered to be the goalie on my high school soccer team solely because I didn't have to run), I found the runner's personal stories and determination so inspiring. It fueled me with an energy to both up my personal health and set career goals with laser focus. I won't go as far to say I might run the marathon in my future, but I have pulled out my running shoes and am looking at them with new light.

Part of that laser focus has been to create clear end-of-year goals. We all set goals in January, but why wait? Each day is a gift to create a new habit and take action towards the life you want. Here at UTD, we're trying to make the most of what's left of 2021 and sow the seeds for a dynamite 2022. I encourage you to do the same!

Please read about some new and refined features below! We will be releasing some very cool new features in the coming weeks. Look for info in these weekly emails.

Many of you have asked for this, you can now add a second ethnicity on the Up-To-Date Actor. Read more below on how you can use this to filter with greater specificity and learn about more projects that are a match for your unique skills and demographics.

Get out there and create a great week!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

New Features

Second Ethnicity

You can now add a second ethnicity to your Up-To-Date Actor profile. If you are a multi-ethnic you can use this second ethnicity to discover more new projects as well as use both ethnicities to filter through Talent Agents and Talent Managers looking for diverse and multi-ethnic talent.

To edit your profile, click "My Account" from the sub-navigation under your name & picture on your Dashboard. Or click the main navigation (three lines in the upper left corner) and click "User Info" --> "Edit Profile". If you are creating a brand new account you will be able to add the second ethnicity when creating your profile. Lastly, if a second ethnicity does not apply to you, no worries, just leave it blank.

Once your ethnicity is set, play around with the filters to get specific and find Talent Agents, Talent Managers, and Projects Now Casting who are looking for your unique talent.

Filtering Literary & Creative Agencies

More filters are available for Talent Agencies and Talent Managers on the Up-To-Date Actor. Now, in addition to finding agents and managers who represent talent for film, TV, Theatre, Commercials, etc. you can also search for companies that represent creative types. Click on "Filters" a the top of each page to take these selectors, and more, for a spin.

New Filters Include:

  • Choreographers
  • Dancers
  • Directors
  • Hosts
  • Influencers
  • Literary- Playwrights
  • Literary - Screenwriters

Need more help with filtering on the Up-To-Date Actor? Check out this brief tutorial on Filtering Agents & Managers. New to the Up-To-Date Actor and want to learn more about the features we offer? Check out all of our tutorials!

Actors on Acting

As UTD's resident Lady Gaga fan, I have to admit I'm super excited to catch her upcoming turn as former Gucci heiress Patrizia Reggiani in HOUSE OF GUCCI. Gaga spoke with British Vogue about her process of getting into character to tackle the role over a three-year span of shooting, noting that she "lived as [Reggiani] for a year and a half" and spoke with the thick Vignola Italian dialect for nine of those months. Gaga's decidedly Method approach to the character led to what she called "psychological difficulty" toward the end of filming: "I remember I went out into Italy one day with a hat on to take a walk. I hadn’t taken a walk in about two months and I panicked. I thought I was on a movie set."

Will Poulter has had a breakout year in film and TV, and if his latest role in the upcoming GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 is any indication, he has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. The MAZE RUNNER and NARNIA star's recent work in Hulu's DOPESICK, tackling the opioid epidemic in the US, provides a backdrop for what he calls the "social application of the work," an increasingly important element in the projects he chooses to take on. "We're under no illusions about the fact that the TV show alone isn’t going to reverse the opioid crisis," he said. "But we really hope that it will contribute to the conversation that is being had around how we make people accountable for what happened." Poulter is also quick to credit his team and base, saying that they keep him grounded and ready for what's next: "I'm really lucky that I have a really tight knit and very qualified team, who I’m very reliant on for guidance."

Broadway star Laura Benanti is speaking out about her difficult time performing on stage in the early 2000's, suffering several injuries that would plague the actress for years afterward. "When I was 22 years old I broke my neck," Benanti wrote on Instagram. "I was a 22-year-old girl who didn’t know how to say 'this doesn't feel safe to me,' I was a good girl. A nice girl. I wanted to be liked. So I did it. For months and months." She went on to document the months of surgeries and second opinions she would go on to receive, saying that the industry's desire to suppress what could be deemed as "problematic" behavior kept her from speaking up for years afterward.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

A new industry guide for producers and filmmakers hopes to increase the amount of Native American representation in film and TV. "The Time Is Now: The Power of Native Representation in Entertainment", developed by Native- and women-led non-profit IllumiNative, outlines data surrounding the desire to see more Native American storylines and characters on screen, as well as best practices for addressing cultural biases and actionable steps to including Native creators in writers rooms and production staffs. "The benefits of doing it right, engaging Native people in meaningful ways, hiring them and making sure they’re a part of every process, that makes it a great outcome for everyone," IllumiNative founder and CEO Crystal Echo Hawk said. "There’s such a richness out there, our culture is not for sale and is not to be appropriated... We just want to be respected and engaged with in a meaningful way."

Agency giant UTA announced a slew of new promotions throughout the company last week, reporting that about 60% of the updated positions identified as women and one in three were employees of color. "We look forward to seeing all of the great achievements this group will continue to accomplish in their new roles as the company innovates, expands, and flourishes," UTA co-president David Kramer said.

Emerging filmmakers in the Greater Philadelphia area are set to get a boost through a new partnership between BlackStar Projects and Xfinity. The Philadelphia Filmmaker Lab, a year-long program designed to support Black, Brown, and Indigenous film artists throughout Philadelphia, announced its first round of fellows last week, who will receive mentorship, funding, and access to equipment to get their projects off the ground. The films will then receive a premiere at the 2022 BlackStar Film Festival, as well as being featured on Xfinity's Black Experience channel.

HFPA Restructuring

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association continues to revitalize its structure and best practices, this week announcing the arrival of the organization's first chief diversity officer. Neil Phillips will helm the HFPA's DEI strategy and approach to reforming and broadening the group's overwhelmingly white pool of journalists, which has been the subject of immense backlash in recent years. "I've spent my entire career managing my own discomfort and diving deeply into the realm of breaking the bonds of systemic racism and having the uncomfortable, yet productive, conversations that can radically change organizations and individual lives," Phillips said of his past work in advocacy and support groups for the Black community.

Even with NBC's announcement that they would not host a live broadcast for the Golden Globes in 2022, the HFPA is still moving forward with plans to hold some sort of ceremony, though the details seem to be few and far between as of now. Film and TV critic Michael Scheider argues that the group should move forward without submission requirements for the upcoming year of nominees, instead relying on true industry opinions to populate the categories rather than submissions from studios and producers. The move would also eliminate any backlash that these entities could face for interacting with the HFPA, while still keeping them in contention for a Golden Globe that may easily put a studio, director, or actor on the map with just one win.

Streaming

ViacomCBS released its Q3 numbers last week, showing growth in streaming interest for its Paramount+ platform, but overall lacking in revenue results. Streaming revenue for the company topped $1 billion for the first time, as total revenue jumped 13% to $6.6 billion, falling short of industry analysts' expectations for the company. CEO Bob Bakish said the company will continue to experiment with the best way to release films - either through day-and-date practices or theatrical windows - and still remained optimistic about ViacomCBS' trajectory for the years ahead.

Netflix is once again under fire for its handling of CUTIES, a 2020 Sundance film that received immense public backlash for its portrayal of children in suggestive situations. A report from The Verge found that Netflix edited its algorithm to suppress the film and essentially hide it from most search results, saying in a company press release that it was "suppress[ing] promotion and related search queries" to "avoid looking like we have removed the film page from service, are moving release date and/or not launch the film." The findings from the report are being touted as evidence that the streamer has the ability to hide certain titles when it sees fit; while many have been calling for similar measures for the transphobic-comment-laden Dave Chappelle special, no such measures have been taken to remove the content from the platform.

Political Updates

A new iteration of the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act has entered the halls of Congress, with many in the industry hoping it will reach President Biden's desk and provide much-needed relief to productions sooner than later. PRIA would require insurance companies to cover pandemic-related claims and losses, in the event that a business cannot operate due to an outbreak of disease declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services as a "covered public health emergency," and would cover 95% of the claims via government funding. Insurance companies have resisted the validity of the measure, arguing that it is impossible to provide coverage against a pandemic, but industry advocates remain hopeful that the involvement of government funds in helping to pay for the measure will make it attractive enough to be passed by Congress in the months ahead.

RUST Investigation Continues

As the police probe into the fatal RUST shooting that took the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins continues, both the embattled first assistant director and armorer are speaking out about the incident and deflecting any potential blame in what continues to be a muddy and confusing investigation. First AD David Halls, who was previously fired from a film set in 2019 over gun safety issues, admitted to the Santa Fe Sheriff's Department that he did not remember checking all of the rounds in the gun before it was handed to star Alec Baldwin in the minutes leading up to the shooting. "It's my hope that this tragedy prompts the industry to reevaluate its values and practices to ensure no one is harmed through the creative process again," Halls said in a statement.

Lawyers for armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed took to the TODAY Show last week to share their latest theory on how the tragedy unfolded, postulating that foul play may be to blame for the incident after reports that live rounds had been found in the box marked as dummy rounds on set: "[T]he person who put the live round in the box of dummy rounds had to have the purpose of sabotaging the set." Former crew member Lane Loper called this statement "dangerous and irresponsible" to make publicly, considering the shooting was the third mishap involving a gun on the RUST set.

Producers for smaller-budget films are swirling to defend the nature of their projects in the aftermath of RUST, being quick to point out that "low budget does not equal unsafe." Producer Tom Nunan noted that "typically people on movie and TV sets are following rules, following established behaviors and regulations that keep people safe," but with the advent of dozens of new productions popping up given the increase demand for content from streamers, it's becoming less common to have a wealth of experience on film sets across the country. "Sometimes an ambitious project is forced to cut corners to save money," producer Peter Phok said. "But, it takes an experienced line producer at the helm to recognize that some corners can’t be cut."

Alec Baldwin has stated that police officers should be employed on all film and TV sets that utilize guns. Tweeting from his now private account, and also sharing the same message on his personal Instagram page, Baldwin wrote, "Every film/TV set that uses guns, fake or otherwise, should have a police officer on set, hired by the production, to specifically monitor weapons safety."

Over 200 cinematographers have come together to call for a permanent ban on "functional firearms" on film sets, standing behind the death of Halyna Hutchins as being the necessary wake-up call the industry needed to make the change. "We have safe alternatives in VFX and non-functional firearms," the statement said. "We won’t wait for the industry to change. We have a duty to effect change within the industry ourselves."

Quick Bites

Amazon is already jumping into the awards season frenzy with a new pop-up in NYC's Bryant Park. The Alcove Bar at Bank of America's Winter Village will play host to themed cocktails from some of the studio's movies and films that are expected to be up for contention in this year's award season race, including titles like BEING THE RICARDOS, HARLEM and THE PURSUIT OF LOVE 🍸

Shanghai Disney reopened last week after a COVID scare trapped tens of thousands of visitors inside the park awaiting negative test results. Officials from the Chinese government detained 33,863 individuals and required negative tests from all after a woman tested positive in the park one day prior. The move is the latest in a string of increasingly strict measures being taken to reduce the spread of COVID in the country 🌏

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health laid out its latest guidance for a path to maskless indoor and outdoor entertainment events in the months ahead, relying on CDC guidelines for low transmission and hospitalization numbers as well as an 80% vaccination rate for all residents 12 and older. The country is currently on track to reach these goals in the next few months, but recent upward ticks in cases are potentially endangering a maskless LA for the time being 😷

The first movie scenes shot in space are officially in the editing room, as Russian director Klim Shipenko and actor Yuliya Peresild hailed their 12-day stint aboard the International Space Station capturing more than 30 hours of footage for THE CHALLENGE an overall success. The team sat down with Deadline to discuss their inspirations for taking on the interstellar expedition, the preparation for the trip, and what the future of filmmaking in space may look like 🚀

Nearly a month after IATSE and AMPTP negotiators reached a deal for a new TV contract to avoid a strike in Hollywood, the full 49-page agreement was released for union members to read last week. Check out the full breakdown here! 📃

The seemingly-endless world of Harry Potter rumors continues to churn this week, as SORCERER'S STONE and CHAMBER OF SECRETS director Chris Columbus shared his dream to direct original series stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint in a movie adaptation of HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD. "It's a great play and the kids are actually the right age to play those roles. It’s a small fantasy of mine," Columbus said in a recent interview celebrating the first film's 20th anniversary. I'm certainly not opposed to it 🤷✨

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


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Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


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November 02, 2021

Happy November, UTD!

I can't believe that it is already the second of November - truly, where has the time gone?! As I mentioned last week, we at the Up-To-Date Actor have been holding weekly meetings to hold ourselves accountable in our daily work and to create a mastermind of creativity. Each week we read another chapter in Lead the Field by Earl Nightingale. I cannot stress how this book has provided us with a laser focus that has trickled over into every-day-life. I mention this because I think everyone could benefit from picking up a copy.

One thing that has come from our weekly work - we want to hear from you how we can be more of service to you. We also want to better communicate how you can use the Up-To-Date Actor to further your career and make the "business" component easier.

So, we will be hosting a weekly 30-min Q&A on Instagram Live. Sean Gregory will be there to answer your questions on the Up-To-Date Actor. We also want to know what stumbling blocks you experience in moving your career to the next level and any ideas of what could help. We might already offer a feature to solve a problem, and if not we'd want to know what we can do to help. Make sure you are following @uptodatetheatricals and tune in next Monday 11/08 @ 7 PM ET on IG Live.

Lastly, we are committed to building new features and refining our existing ones. But we don't want our hard work to fall on deaf ears. So, look for new feature announcements in these emails each month and announced on social media.

More exciting news to come, but for now have a great week, and hope you can join us on IG Live next Monday!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

New Feature

Throughout the week we add regional theatre auditions. Active members receive notifications of these auditions the day after they are input. Now, active members can see a list of all of the producing theatre companies in this email under the Currently Casting section. This extra bit of reporting is another way we seek to be transparent and make it easier for you to find information that you might have missed earlier in the week.

To view specific audition information, search for the theatre company on the Up-To-Date Actor and click on the flashing AUDITIONING and bell icon. A box will pop-up with all of the important audition information.

Happy Auditioning!

Domestic & International Production

Netflix is throwing its hat in the ring on a bidding war for New Jersey's former Fort Monmouth military base. Closed in 2011, the defunct site is accepting proposals from interested parties from entertainment companies and other buyers, with NJ Governor Phil Murphy hoping to court one of Hollywood's major players in the wake of bills being passed in Georgia and Texas that may spur productions to relocate. After the official opening of its newest production facility in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Netflix hopes to bring another "state-of-the-art production facility" to the Garden State in the years ahead.

Hong Kong's government oversight continues to broaden with the passage of a new film censorship law, aimed at cracking down on anti-China language and programming. Under the new directive, the country's Chief Secretary will now be able to revoke a film's license if he feels that it conflicts with interests of national security for China. The move is the latest in a long string of measures aimed at tamping down Democratic ideologies in the country, with documentarian Kiwi Chow noting the new law would "worsen self-censorship and fuel fear among filmmakers."

The global box office saw a massive boost from IMAX sales last quarter, enjoying a $142 million sales hike in what the company is calling "a significant turning point in the global box office." Blockbuster titles like DUNE, BLACK WIDOW, and SHANG CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS led the charge for the Q3 boom, helping IMAX lower its net loss from $47.2 million all the way to $8.4 million.

RUST Shockwaves Continue

The industry is still trying to make sense of the tragic accident on the set of the Alec Baldwin-led RUST that took the life of award-winning director of photography Halyna Hutchins. With the Santa Fe Sheriff's Office still combing through evidence and entertaining further search warrants of the film set, investigators are now focusing on how live ammunition rounds were introduced on set in the first place. Armorer Hannah Gutierrez, speaking through her legal team, maintains that she has "no idea where the live rounds came from," saying that the safety of the RUST set was compromised when they were introduced.

The industry reaction continues to be swift and far-reaching. Several high-profile productions, including ABC's THE ROOKIE and Amazon's THE BOYS banned real firearms from their sets almost immediately, ushering in a much larger discussion surrounding the need for them on sets at all. And at the governmental level, officials have made it clear that Hollywood's granted reaction time will be minimal. Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz has already introduced legislation that would ban live guns and ammunition on sets, echoing a similar sentiment from CA state senator Dave Cortese and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. "If the industry doesn’t come forward with very specific accountable safeguards, they should expect that we will," Grisham said at a news conference last week.

Scores of VFX artists in the industry have made it known that technology has progressed past the need for real gunfire to make scenes work. "Doing just a muzzle flash, it’s nothing," said one VFX artist. "It's minutes of work per shot — maybe a tiny glow, maybe a tiny bit of interactive light." And with the right on-camera modifications from the actor, the end result would "absolutely mimic" that of a real gun discharge during filming.

What has become a common thread in the aftermath of the RUST shooting has been the startling lack of structure on many sets involving firearms. "There can be a vibe of, like, 'Well, I'm assuming they know what they're doing,'" AMERICAN HORROR STORY's Leslie Grossman said. "On sets, there’s this general idea that 'somebody' — and I'm using quotes when I say 'somebody' — is in charge, and many times, nobody's in charge."

More Articles:

IATSE Approaching New Contract

With a full strike off the table, for the time being, IATSE officials are now being taken to task by a growing percentage of their base for not going far enough in their demands for better wages and working conditions over the last few months. "Our members feel disappointed that our leaders started negotiations with low demands and didn’t take advantage of the membership's strong backing to dramatically change our work landscape," member Chris Walters said, pointing to his Change.org petition calling for other workers to vote no on the new deal's ratification. Walters is confident in voting down the contract, saying that he is "absolutely certain" the union will be able to eclipse the 51% threshold for no votes to officially veto the proposal.

Negotiation officials, meanwhile, are doing all they can to urge members to accept the new provisions as they are. "We continue to believe that not only did we reach the best agreement possible after these many months of negotiations culminating in a resounding strike authorization vote that was the turning point in us achieving what we set out to do, but also that the solidarity among the locals was inspiring and astounding and the linchpin to our success," IATSE president Matthew Loeb and other union leaders wrote. While it is no secret that the deal is bare bones at best, Loeb and Co believe it to still be "the best agreement possible" at this current juncture for the organization, calling on members to vote in the upcoming ratification and reaffirming their commitment to continue fighting for better union rights across the board.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

TV

CBS will play host to a new venture from writers Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet aimed at diversifying voices behind the scenes. 25 Stories will focus on mapping out career paths for scribes from underrepresented communities across the writing landscape, offering opportunities on both cable and streaming projects. "I knew I wanted to bring prestige television by writers of color to the marketplace, and I began to think about how to create a space where marginalized voices are centered," Lumet said. "I thought a lot about scale: intimate stories, family stories, positive stories. I wanted people to emerge from their experience with 25 Stories with the tools to start their own companies. Ultimately, a space that will launch creators."

The first guide from the Association of National Advertisers #WriteHerRight has launched this past week, focusing on the authentic portrayal of Latina characters in content across the airwaves. "Latina Characters: Authentic Representation and Storytelling Guide" was announced at ANA's 2021 Multicultural Marketing and Diversity Conference, seeking to give Latinas a strong, illuminated presence in media moving forward. There is no singular Latina story — there are infinite stories," executive advisor for SeeHer Dr. Knatokie Ford said. "So, we should endeavor to paint more vivid pictures of Latinas to illustrate the fullness of who they are, where they have been, and even where they hope to be."

The sophomore run of the Tony award-winning Broadway Advocacy Coalition's Artivism Fellowship will focus on justice through abolition, seeking to lift narratives from BIPOC artists that blend policy, engagement, and storytelling. The four-month fellowship culminates in a digital presentation from the eight selected fellows, highlighting their work in the use of storytelling to break down barriers of systemic racism in the US.

Theatre

With Broadway's return has come a renewed commitment to the pledges that so many theatremakers made during the events of the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer of 2020. The responses on Broadway have been numerous: BOOK OF MORMON creators Matt Stone and Robert Lopez met with cast members to discuss revisions to the script that called into question whether or not the show's satirical nature was doing more harm than good. THE LION KING and ALADDIN teams changed out wordings in several songs with racial undertones, while HAMILTON creative grappled with the show's portrayal of Thomas Jefferson as an abolitionist rather than a slave owner. Changes are being made to the current structure, that much is true. But the important work of empowering underrepresented voices and artistry on the Broadway stage still has a long way to go.

Playwright Lionelle Hamanaka's newest work - COVID CRIME - is calling out the rampant anti-Asian hate that permeated the country at the height of the pandemic in 2020. Hamanaka's point is salient: Asian Americans endured horrific treatment during some of the most difficult days the world has ever seen, and the treatment is not something new. "My parents were in the concentration camps, and of course that caused a great deal of hardship for our family," Hamanaka said during the reading of her play last weekend. "[T]hat leaves a scar on your mind." The playwright has created a series of plays surrounding the events of COVID, with COVID CRIMES focusing specifically on the rise in anti-Asian violence in the country.

New York State will officially begin offering a new tax credit to productions that agree to "qualified diversity and arts job training programs." New York City Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit will apply to classes from organizations like The Theatre Leadership Project and the Black Theatre Coalition, designed to spur on the return to in-person events in the city. "TTLP looks forward to working with Broadway productions to actualize our efforts towards a more diverse and equitable field that will strengthen our industry for years to come," TTLP Program Manager Leah Harris said.

More Articles:

Industry Intel

A new partnership between Variety and Twitter will track the top 10 most tweeted-about shows each week, a first in digital rankings that execs believe will help fuel organic viewership for programs in the months ahead. The Variety Trending TV charts will feature a heat map for which shows are being discussed across the country, along with tracking day-to-day top show metrics and which are performing best organically on the platform. "[T]hrough our partnership with Variety, we are going to be able to use all of that conversation data to create a modern day watch list of the most talked about shows," head of U.S. entertainment and news partnerships at Twitter Sarah Rosen said.

Situation Interactive Partnered with the NYC Mayor's Office last week to host an exciting look at the current Broadway job market for college students and recent grads. "Becoming Broadway: An Introduction to a Career in Theatre" featured dozens of panelists from all walks of the Broadway life - tech, merchandising, producing, talent agencies, and more - to discuss the best ways to get yourself in front of your next potential job match. "Whether you’re interested in design, technology, business, fashion, fitness, music, marketing or, yes, performance—Broadway needs your unique passion and talents," Situation president Damian Bazadona said.

President Biden's Build Back Better bill is getting a boost from SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher. "Who are we if not a nation that offers a helping hand to our fellow Americans in need? Build Back Better will greatly improve the lives of so many. Healthcare is always a priority, and this bill will expand access and reduce premiums," the head of the union said. "We are proud to support this important bill."

Film and TV casting maven Meghan Rafferty is set to host an exciting new workshop at Bay Street Theater in NYC, focusing on nailing your self-tape setup in this age of virtual auditions and creating the best submission to catch the eyes of casting professionals. Sign up today!

More Articles:

Updates from Broadway

Repertory plays IS THIS A ROOM and DANA H. announced they will be closing ahead of their original January 22nd, 2022 closing date, citing "a challenging landscape for live performance." The pair of shows, currently running back-to-back at the Lyceum, ran Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre prior to the COVID shutdown.

The Broadway League is easing up on its decision to hide weekly show grosses for all current productions, announcing last week that they would begin reporting "a composite of the grosses, the capacity for the week, the grosses for the week, and the number of performances accomplished for the week." League president Charlotte St. Martin said the decision came after "an increased demand for how Broadway is doing," and shared that the 2021-2022 season has enjoyed a $105M gross in sales since beginning on August 4th.

Broadway is back, that much is certain, though the theatregoing landscape has undergone a fair deal of transformation in the age of COVID. Vaccine checks, security checks, ticket checks.... the pre-show ritual has slowly begun to rival that of a trans-Atlantic flight, but the results have been promising: "Thankfully, so far so good," IATSE Local 30 rep Carol Bokun said. While no official numbers have been released, theater owners insist that the number of patrons having to be turned away without proper COVID protocol has been small, citing the community's desire to get back to the theatre and keep safety as the number 1 priority 🎭

Looking to plan your next trip to the Great White Way? Here are all of the shows waiting for you to pay them a visit 😍

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


TV

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Theatre

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

TV

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Theatre

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October 26, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

We at UTD are always looking for new ways we can help empower you, the actor. It is what our company was founded on and what motivates every action and new feature we create. It is why we set aside time monthly to offer free advice via workshops. We are always asking ourselves, how can we be more of service to our community? We take this so seriously that we have weekly meetings dedicated to brainstorming new ways we can reach and inspire more people.

As a company, we have been reading Lead the Field by Earl Nightingale. It is an old but great text and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to expand their career, business, relationships, and mental outlook. As we have continued this weekly work, it has become apparent that the truths in this book are universal and can apply to any and every aspect of one's life.

Synchronistically, last week Annie and I attended the Small Business Expo in NYC where we heard several fantastic keynote speakers. These professionals were speaking to hundreds of small business owners across vastly different sectors, yet one message echoed loud and clear - how can you serve your community? So, I want to close this introduction with our Mission Statement and encourage you to be the beacon of light you want to see in the world.

Mission Statement
The mission of Up-To-Date Theatricals & the Up-To-Date Actor is to inspire, motivate and evolve creativity in all whom we meet and work with. In so doing, our ideal is to awaken artists of all ages to their unique talents and abilities, to achieve their highest potential, and ultimately become co-creators with Divine Creativity. Through all of our services, our goal is to demystify the entertainment business and provide performers with empowering tools to transform their careers. To that end, Up-To-Date Theatricals is committed to helping our creative community evolve social consciousness through uplifting storytelling; storytelling with all its colorful diversity that inspires us to laugh at our humanity, while at the same time imaginatively showing us how we can and need to create a world where everyone can be spotlighted center stage and valued for their unique talent.

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

IATSE

While the IATSE news cycle definitely slowed this week, a few more articles trickled in. Here is an updated article with full details on the new contract.

CEO of ViaomCBS Bob Bakish expressed relief at the deal reached between IATSE and the AMPTP, calling it “beneficial” for all involved. IATSE still needs to ratify the deal and even as he spoke some members were walking back their expression of initial enthusiasm.

Lastly, here's a brief recap on how the strike was averted (for now).

Cinematographer Killed on Film Set

Last Thursday, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed by a prop gun "discharged" by star Alec Baldwin on the set of the indie Western RUST. The incident has shaken the industry. An investigation is being launched into this horrific accident and leaders in Hollywood are demanding gun reform on sets. Countless articles have been written since Thursday, detailing what happened and the producer and crew's cooperation with the investigation.

Producer and star Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a "quick draw" stunt and was handed a prop gun that he was told by an AD did not have live ammunition. The gun misfired, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. Hours before the fatal accident, seven of the film’s camera crew packed up their personal gear and walked off the job, citing a wide range of complaints. Several of those who quit wrote letters of resignation. "We cited everything from lack of payment for three weeks, taking our hotels away despite asking for them in our deals, lack of Covid safety, and on top of that, poor gun safety! Poor on-set safety period!" a member of the camera crew wrote on a private Facebook page. After the walkout, "They brought in four non-union guys to replace us and tried calling the cops on us."

Part of why this shocking and tragic event has shaken the industry is due to the greater demand for safety on set. Cinematography is the deadliest job in Hollywood. In the last 10 years, four members of camera teams have been killed on the set in the U.S. — twice the number of stunt fatalities.

Hollywood has had a long, difficult history with guns, which always comes back in the spotlight after a tragedy. Shows depicting gun violence are temporarily shelved after a mass shooting out of respect for victims. Studies exploring possible links between violent content in movies, TV series and video games are commissioned periodically. But guns have remained a Hollywood staple; they have been an indelible part of screen storytelling since the cinema’s early days, solidifying their leading role through the Western genre, which RUST falls into.

Already, directors and showrunners are responding:

  • THE ROOKIE  Showrunner Alexi Hawley announced, "As of today, it is now policy on The Rookie that all gunfire on set will be Air Soft guns with CG muzzle flashes added in post," Hawley wrote. "There will be no more 'live' weapons on the show. The safety of our cast and crew is too important. Any risk is too much risk."
  • Eric Kripke, showrunner for Amazon Prime Video’s THE BOYS, tweeted: "No more guns with blanks on any of my sets ever. We’ll use VFX muzzle flashes. Who’s with me?"
  • MARE OF EASTTOWN director Craig Zobel revealed after the RUST incident that all gunshots on the popular HBO limited series are digital.

Launched by filmmaker Bandar Albuliwi, a petition to ban real guns on film sets has raced past 23,000 signatories after being launched Friday.

The American Film Institute (AFI) has established a memorial scholarship in Hutchins' name for female cinematographers. Hutchins graduated from the AFI Conservatory in 2015 and was selected as one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars of 2019 as well as a cinematographer for the 21st Century Fox DP Lab in 2018. She had since carved a place for herself in a field traditionally dominated by men. In inaugurating the fund AFI said, "We pledge to see that Halyna Hutchins will live on in the spirit of all who strive to see their dreams realized in stories well told."

Rest In Peace, Halyna Hutchins 🙏🕊

Production

The California Film Commission announced Monday that it has awarded $15 million in tax credits to two TV shows, inducing them to move production to California. The funds come from the increase to the state’s film and TV tax credit program authorized by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in July. The shows are THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY on Disney Plus, which will relocate from Vancouver, and ABC’s yet-to-be-aired PROMISED LAND, which will relocate from Georgia.

As production has bounded back post-pandemic, 90-miles north of Manhattan, the Hudson is seeing a surge in new production. According to the Hudson Valley Film Commission (HVFC), the area hosted no fewer than 15 film and television projects in the second quarter of 2021, including THE WHITE HOUSE PLUMBERS, THE SEX LIVES OF COLLEGE GIRLS, and LIFE & BETH. The three-month period was the most active production in the commission’s 21-year history, with direct spending estimates amounting to $25 million.

As big studios have been drawn up state, there is concern that indies will be pushed out. Urging big companies to tap local talent, Hudson Valley casting director Heidi Ecklund says: "We'll save you money and deliver amazing actors. A production hub is fantastic, just don’t mow us over. If you take our beauty away, and leave us with nothing, that doesn’t help. Please don’t push out the community that’s worked so hard since the early 2000s to build the region and make it what it is."

Across the river and further south, Independent film and television production company Phiphen Pictures will open Phiphen Studios, a 10,000-square-foot boutique post-production and office space, in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, in 2022. The project is led by Phiphen Pictures founder Molly Conners to support and grow New Jersey’s film community following the reinstatement of its film and television tax credit, which runs through 2028. It’s a new construction and could eventually expand, including adding sound stages.

Streaming

Netflix is making a major shift in how the company reports viewership data for its content, shifting to a metric that is more closely aligned with traditional TV metrics. As part of its third-quarter earnings release on Tuesday, the streaming giant disclosed it will soon begin reporting viewership stats measured as the total number of hours viewed of a program during its first 28 days on the platform. For years, Netflix has only reported the number of households who watched at least a small portion of a program.

Disney is breaking with a big Madison Avenue tradition. The owner of ABC, ESPN and Hulu intends to ask advertisers and buyers to convene at a new, as-yet-undisclosed location where executives can interact with the company's entire media portfolio in a more hands-on way, says Rita Ferro, president of Disney Advertising Sales. "We need to modernize our presentation and how we show up," Ferro told Variety. Doing so has become increasingly important as more advertisers look for ways to run commercials alongside video content that appears simultaneously across many kinds of media outlets and use data to purchase ad time with more precision. Ferro expects to invite advertisers to a new kind of Disney upfront showcase that is experiential in nature, she says. In the months ahead of the extravaganza, the company will hold separate presentations, some virtual, for programmatic advertising in live events, on October 27; a week of discussions about advertising technology and data, in late February and early March; and sports in April.

Up & Coming Filmmakers

We are always encouraging you to be aware of the next wave of talent (Writers, Directors, Filmmakers, etc.). You never know who will be the next Scorsese! Research up-and-coming talent and reach out to them. Check out writers on newplayexchange.org as most writers are writing for stage AND screen! Build relationships from the ground up, offer congratulations on nominations and awards, add a google alert, and put them on a list of industry professionals to target & watch.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report for 2021 finds TV viewers embraced content from diverse writers rooms and featured diverse casts. The report, which covers statistics for the 2019–20 TV season, tracks racial and gender diversity among key job categories, as well as ratings and social media engagement for 461 scripted shows across 50 broadcast, cable, and streaming providers. For example, among households of all races in 2019–20, the scripted broadcast shows that earned the highest median ratings were those in which people of color were credited were between 31 percent and 40 percent of the credited writers. Popular shows include Netflix's GENTEFIED, BET+'s FIRST WIVES CLUB, and HBO Max's DOOM PATROL.

And while this is a positive direction for TV viewership, adequate representation remains a struggle for many marginalized groups. People who identify as Hispanic or Latinx make up 18.5% of the United States’ population, but as UCLA report indicates, the country’s demographic reality is not being reflected on our small screens.

In fact, the share of total cast roles in television for the 2019-2020 season for Latinx actors stood at just 6.3% for broadcast, 5.7% for cable and 5.5% for digital. Though in broadcast Latinx actors were slightly more prominent, standing at 7.1%, numbers still remained flat last year, with 3.9% cast in cable main roles and 4.7% in digital. While the report showed that TV content from diverse writers’ rooms and/or with diverse casts resonated with audiences during the pandemic, Latinx actors, directors and writers still remain largely shunned by the industry. The report analyzed key job categories, as well as ratings and social media engagement scores, for 461 scripted shows across 50 television programming providers.

Dave Chappelle has spoken out about the controversy over his Netflix special THE CLOSER in a new stand-up video, saying that he is willing to meet with transgender Netflix employees or other members of the trans community, but won’t bend "to anybody's demands." In the video, Chappelle remained unapologetic about the special — which was accused of containing transphobic and homophobic remarks and led to a walkout at Netflix. "It's been said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees of Netflix and I refused. That is not true — if they had invited me I would have accepted it, although I am confused about what we would be speaking about," Chappelle said in the video. "I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not? You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. It seems like I’m the only one that can’t go to the office anymore."

It's that time of year ❄️

Lastly, it's that magical time of year where before the ghosts and goblins have fully come out to play, we are already bombarded with snowflakes, presents, merriment, and good cheer. I'm talking about the Holiday Movie Showtimes & Schedules! So if you're more of a mulled wine than pumpkin beer kind of person, you can start planning your "hugge" nights at home.

Currently Casting

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October 19, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

Have you heard? The once-impending, nationwide, IATSE strike has been avoided! This is BIG news. Read more below for more info, industry response, and a detailed history of the union and this watershed moment.

Annie and I had a great time last week answering your questions at Actors Connection FREE @ Three. We always enjoy being able to encourage you to get specific and take BOLD action. It seems like time keeps moving faster and faster, where did September and October go?! With less than a month and a half left before the Thanksgiving holiday, make the most of this busy Fall season.

These are three major steps you can take right now to move your career forward in the remaining weeks of the 2021 production season. We at the Up-To-Date Actor are busy working on new features to help you in this process and are constantly refining the many existing ones. Stay tuned for new feature updates in the coming weeks and follow us on social (IG: @uptodatetheatricals TW: @UTDTheatricals) for these notifications as well as breaking industry news.

Have a great week!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

IATSE

Negotiators from the IATSE reached a deal on Saturday afternoon with the AMPTP for a new three-year contract. The union sent out a list of bullet points on the deal, including 10-hour "turnaround" times between shifts, 54-hour weekend turnarounds, and 3% wage increases for each of the next three years. The deal also includes increased meal penalties, improved wages and working conditions for streaming productions, and a "living wage" for the lowest-paid workers.

IATSE chief Loeb and the leaders of the union's 13 Hollywood production locals praised the members' solidarity for securing a fair contract. "Everything achieved was because you, the members, stood up and gave us the power to change the course of these negotiations," they said in a statement. "Our solidarity, at both the leadership and rank and file level, was the primary reason that no local was left behind and every priority was addressed. Because of you we realized:

  • Living wage achieved
  • Improved wages and working conditions for streaming
  • Retroactive scale wage Increases of 3% annually
  • Employer Funded Benefits for the term
  • Increased meal period penalties including prevailing rate
  • Daily Rest Periods of 10 hours without exclusions
  • Weekend Rest Periods of 54 and 32 hours
  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday Holiday
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives
  • 13th and 14th checks for pre-August 2009 retirees
  • Additional MPI Hours for On-Call Employees
  • Expansion of Sick Leave Benefit to the entire country

"Your strike authorization vote, your preparation for a strike and your willingness to risk your livelihood to fight for yourselves and each other has profoundly changed our union, "IATSE leaders said. "We thank you for your unwavering support."

The 54-hour weekend is a significant win for the union, and is intended to eliminate "Fraturdays," in which productions would schedule late-Friday shifts that would go until early Saturday morning. The contract still allows productions to call six-day work weeks, in which case the "weekend" turnaround would be 32 hours.

This is a historic moment for production in the U.S., this new contract will serve as the basis for all production contracts moving forward, not just for IATSE members. The implications of these contracts will be felt by all aspects (I'm looking at you actors ). "Hands down this is the strongest contract we have achieved in our history," said Art Directors Guild president Nelson Coates and other top Local execs.

If you're still wondering what all of the fuss is about, here is a great article (albiet written before the agreement was reached) that details the history of the union and why this moment is instrumental in defining the future of film and television.

More Articles:

Indie Film, Streaming & Metrics

Joe Russo, best known for his collaborations with brother Anthony on Marvel blockbusters AVENGERS: INFINITY WARS and AVENGERS: ENDGAME, spoke last week about moving outside of the studio system with the formation of his indie company AGBO, and the future of the theatrical biz in the streaming era. Furthermore, Russo is not anticipating a comeback for indie movies at the cinema, and instead, he expects the future of such content to be in the digital space. "I don’t see a resurgence of independent movies at theaters, I just don’t," the producer asserted. "You get more money to make them digitally. It’s the easiest thing for Netflix to greenlight and nobody really bothers you [creatively]. Movies are going to evolve, I’m not sure what theaters will look like but I know it’s going to be more premium."

After a few turbulent months where its methodology was questioned by a range of advertising stakeholders, Nielsen has unveiled a new brand identity. The new look is timed to the start of Advertising Week in New York, a hybrid event that will see a number of media and tech firms take part. In an announcement, the company said the revamped brand signals the "transformation of its culture and a redefined strategy focused solely on the global future of media. Nielsen’s new look and feel represents a commitment to innovation and the company’s role and purpose of powering a better media future for all people." Last March, Nielsen closed the sale of its Global Connect business, saying it would focus on delivering media solutions in three areas: measurement, audience outcomes, and content services. The company is combining and enhancing its measurement solutions into a single cross-media measurement solution, Nielsen One, which is expected to roll out by the end of 2022.

Production Breaking Ground

One thing became clear during the pandemic, the arts industry is critical to New York City's economy. As of August, "all available borough full-service soundstages are mostly filled" and production is back to pre-pandemic levels. These solid occupancy rates have attracted major capital investment and enticed investors into former industrial zones to build out soundstages, support facilities, and other infrastructure. New soundstages and upgrades are planned for Brooklyn's Steiner Studios and Astoria's Kauffman Studios; Lionsgate is building a 5-studio complex in Yonkers, due to open in November; and 11 new soundstages have been proposed as Wildflower Studios, on 19th Avenue in Astoria Queens. Thanks to Tax credits and a resurgence in production, confidence is high in the future of "Made in NYC" film & TV.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Film & TV

WarnerMedia has logged single-digit growth in representation of women and people of color on both sides of the camera and in its workforce over the past year, according to the studio’s newly released Equity and Inclusion report for 2020-21. WarnerMedia issued a detailed, 105-page report complete with glossy features on its work on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the wake of the tumultuous incidents that returned the Black Lives Matter movement to prominence and spurred other activism on social justice issues. The report emphasized the company’s response to the jolts of last year, with a number of new talent development programs and its heightened search for BIPOC creators and stories to tell, such as HBO’s distinctive limited series I MAY DESTROY YOU, from multi-hyphenate British auteur Michaela Coel.

Netflix has reinstated three employees, including a trans senior software engineer who criticized the streamer’s new Dave Chappelle comedy special, after suspending and investigating the group for crashing a meeting of its top executives. Terra Field, one of the suspended employees, shared her reinstatement by the company on her Twitter. Field also included a screenshot of her correspondence with Netflix officials, in which Field was informed that an investigation found that she did not join the meeting with any ill intent, nor did she think there was anything wrong with seeking access to the meeting.

Today, the Sundance Institute launched the inaugural Trans Possibilities Intensive, a three-day virtual program focused on advancing transgender storytellers of color and their projects. Six artists have been selected for the intensive, where participants will work on their projects, sharpen their craft, develop community, and challenge the obstacles that often exclude transgender artists of color. During the Intensive, fellows will participate in a robust schedule including group exercises and workshops, as well as collaborations with creative artist advisors.

The BBC has overhauled its guidelines for dealing with bullying and sexual harassment on set in light of "recent revelations" in the TV and film industries. According to an email sent by BBC chief content officer Charlotte Moore to dozens of UK indies, Moore tasked producers on all new shows to confirm they have a suitable "respect at work policy", to name at least one safeguarding contact, and to require all cast and crew to complete anti-bullying and harassment training before the cameras roll. The blanket policy will cover all genres and is an update on the previous policy. Read more on the policy.

Theatre

SLAVE PLAY will arrive in Los Angeles after all. Playwright Jeremy O. Harris announced last week that his Tony-nominated comedy-drama will remain on the line-up at Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum in light of commitments made by the venue to expand opportunities there for women, trans and non-binary artists. "So after 1 1/2 weeks of Zooms and phone calls w artistic staff at @CTGLA as well as my team on SLAVE PLAY, LA community members, multiple female mentors I’m excited to say that  @SlavePlayBway will stay on the season for 2022," Harris tweeted. The development, he said, came after "multiple commitments" were made by CTG.

Suni Reid, a non-binary performer who appeared in the Broadway, Chicago, and Los Angeles productions of HAMILTON in both ensemble and principal roles, has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint alleging that their contract was not renewed in retaliation over a request for a gender-neutral dressing room during the L.A. production – a charge HAMILTON producers are denying. "Publicly, HAMILTON is a beacon of diversity and appears committed to causes seeking social justice and harmony," said Reid's attorneys Lawrence M. Pearson and Lindsay M. Goldbrum of Wigdor LLP in a statement. "Behind the curtain, however, the Company’s management will force out a Black, transgender cast member simply because they stood up for themselves and advocated for a more equitable workplace, and therefore called that public image into question. We look forward to upholding Mx. Reid's rights and hope this is a wake-up call for the theater industry about the systemic inequities that persist even at its greatest heights."

Currently Casting

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Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


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October 12, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

With the industry holding its breath for the looming IATSE strike (read more below), the news cycle was a bit quieter last week. Last Thursday, I hosted my first monthly Up-To-Date Actor Tutorial. I loved hearing your questions and showcasing how to make the most of your notifications and discover new projects. The next topic will be on Adding Auditions & Meetings and will also include a general Q&A where I will answer any of your UTDA questions.

Are you following UTD on Twitter? Starting last week we are tweeting weekly industry updates we receive when calling. This will include new agencies & managers, agents & managers who are seeking new talent, new projects casting, and major changes to casting staff. This will be shared on Twitter only so if you haven't followed us already, find us @UTDtheatricals!

Lastly, Annie and I will be joining Actors Connection this Thursday for their FREE @ THREE. See more info below. Bring your questions and hope to see you there!

Have a great week!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

IATSE Strong

Exactly one week has gone by since the members of IATSE voted to give the union authorization to strike. Talks and negotiations continued on Monday between IATSE and the AMPTP. On Friday, Matt Loeb, the union’s president, said that either way, "It's a matter of days, not weeks." The two sides have been bargaining, on and off, since mid-May.

A threatened IATSE strike against the Kennedy Center has been averted. Following late night bargaining Friday and a unanimous vote to strike earlier in the week, stagehands represented by IATSE Stagehands Local 22 have reached an agreement for a new three-year contract with the management of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The agreement was ratified by the union’s membership at a meeting on Saturday.

The core contract disagreement stems from the COVID safety protocols that were agreed upon by multiple unions last Fall. Studios have feared that these strict protocols would set a new (expensive) normal, and to some extent they have. But there have also been unintended ramifications for the individual crew member such as working full days without any meal breaks (keep in mind no food is allowed on set). I highly encourage you to read more about this very important impasse and the root of the disagreement. When a resolution is finally reached expect to feel the ripple effect across all aspects of production.

UPDATE: As of Monday night, while talks are continuing, and there is hope for a deal, the reality is the union is preparing for a strike - picket signs and all.

Industry Intel

After a weird 2020, the fall film festivals came roaring back to life this season, with each of the most influential lineups — Venice, Telluride, TIFF, and NYFF — looking more or less like their former selves. 137 critics voted in IndieWire's survey of their favorites from the fall festival circuit. It should come as no surprise that the one movie dominating the survey played at all four festivals: Jane Campion’s revisionist Western THE POWER OF THE DOG, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, topped the overall category for Best Film at the Fall Festivals; it also received the most votes for Best Film out of Venice and TIFF, while Campion topped the category for Best Director. Check out the full results and set your Fall viewing plan.

Deadline released another virtual awards event: Contenders London. Check out this lengthy compilation of articles, interviews, and videos from the latest awards circuit from across the pond.

Russia has always prided itself on being first for a number of space exploration milestones, and it can now count itself as the first country to launch a film crew into space.  Last Tuesday, actor Yulia Peresild, director Klim Shipenko, and veteran Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov blasted off to the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft where Shipenko and Pereslid will be filming segments for THE CHALLENGE. Russia's Channel One broadcasted the launch and offered livestreams in multiple languages across its platforms. The project will be the first feature film shot in outer space, beating Tom Cruise and Elon Musk's upcoming $200M action adventure with NASA and Space X, which has director Doug Liman at the helm.

The Black List has chosen six screenwriters out of 1,400 submissions for its ninth annual Features Lab. Lab participants will workshop their scripts through peer groups, and one-on-one mentorship over the course of six weeks. Participating mentors include Minhal Baig (Hala), Jessica Bendinger (Bring It On), Scott Myers (Go Into the Story, the official blog of the Black List), David Rabinowitz (BlackKklansman), Kiwi Smith (Legally Blonde), and Chris Weitz (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). The Black List is a platform for film and TV writers to showcase their screenplays for industry members and get their work evaluated by professional readers.

Theatre News

In a stunning blow to playwrights and play development in the U.S. and worldwide, the prestigious NYC new-play lab the Lark has announced that it will close its doors, though not before it works with "peer institutions to re-home existing Lark programs and fellowships." According to a press release, the decision to shutter the 27-year-old play development mainstay was a "unanimous yet painful conclusion" of the organization’s board after "many long months of responding to pandemic-related crises and seeking paths to sustainability."

For its 10th anniversary, TEDxBroadway will return to in-person programming with a virtual component to celebrate all things theatre. The pandemic forced the event to be presented digitally in 2020, but TEDxBroadway will be offered at New World Stages March 8, 2022, at 1 PM ET with a live stream option on Stellar. Speakers for TEDxBroadway will be announced at a later date. Applications to speak are now being accepted through November 10. While the event aims to discuss ways in which the Broadway industry can improve, organizers are seeking speakers who can contribute to the overall mission of the day with topics not strictly limited to theatre.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

In honor of Indigenous Peoples' Day, Variety released an op-ed on the lack of Indigenous representation in Hollywood. "From its embarrassingly low levels of diverse representation across the board, to inaccurate and harmful portrayals of people of color, particularly Native peoples, Hollywood has been an accomplice in the institutionalized erasure of Native peoples, impacting how our non-Native children see, think, and feel about Native Americans."

Yesterday was also National Coming Out Day. The Casting Society of America (CSA) hosted a virtual event titled We’re Coming Out! CSA Celebrates National Coming Out Day. The 90-minute panel consisted of planned questions that were sourced from CSA members who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Dave Chapelle is in hot water yet again. The often controversial comedian released his latest stand-up special, THE CLOSER, on Netflix and is getting push back from the Trans & LGBTQ+ community for insensitive jokes. Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos defended Chapelle's "artistic freedom" and stated that the special did not violate the company's policy to ban content "designed to incite hate or violence." Sarandos furthermore issued a memo to managers on how to handle angry & upset staff members in response to three staffers crashing a closed door meeting. All three staffers, including a trans person, have since been fired and an investigation is pending. GLAAD has since weighed in, condemning Netflix and urging the company to live up "to their own standards"

Sarah Silverman is calling out what she calls Hollywood's "jewface" problem in response to the news that Kathryn Hahn will be playing Joan Rivers in an upcoming Showtime limited series. "There's this long tradition of non-Jews playing Jews, and not just playing people who happen to be Jewish but people whose Jewishness is their whole being," Silverman said. "One could argue, for instance, that a Gentile [a non-Jew] playing Joan Rivers correctly would be doing what is actually called 'Jewface.'" Silverman continued, "It's defined as when a non-Jew portrays a Jew with the Jewishness front and center, often with makeup or changing of features, big fake nose, all the New York-y or Yiddish-y inflection. And in a time when the importance of representation is seen as so essential and so front and center, why does ours constantly get breached even today in the thick of it?"

Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud and the Sundance Institute have set three scribes for their inaugural Women Write Now screenwriting fellowship, designed to bolster the next generation of Black women in comedy. This year’s Fellows, whose short film scripts were selected from a pool of 672 submissions, are Wilandrea Blair, Danielle Nicolet, and Moni Oyedepo. Each will have their project developed and produced by LOL Studios, as part of a new partnership between Laugh Out Loud and NBCUniversal. In the end, all three will be given the opportunity to pitch additional projects to execs at NBCUni, with just one securing a development deal.

MoreArticles:

Actors on Acting

Often we come across interviews with actors that have to do with their audition for an iconic role, developing an accent, working on physicality, or sometimes just a funny inside joke. Either way, these articles can provide insight into the process and help inform our own choices and work.

Also, check out this NY Times article on How to Play Drunk

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Theatre

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

TV

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

Theatre

Project notices and casting information are for active Up-To-Date Actor subscribers. Select a subscription plan to unlock this feature.

October 05, 2021

Happy October, UTD!

It's hard to believe we're nearly a week into October already. I'm a fan of spooky season as much as the next person, so no complaints from me, but the busy fall season is definitely taking everyone for a ride these last few weeks!

Don't forget we'll be hosting our first Up-To-Date Actor Tutorial this Thursday, October 7th at 2 PM EST; we encourage any users (old or new) to check it out and get an in-depth look at some of the amazing features that Abi has built into the site. The first tutorial will start with a brief overview on how to use & take action on your daily notifications. The tutorial will then be open to a Q&A where Abi will answer your specific questions about the Up-To-Date Actor. No active account is necessary, hope to see you there!

Let's talk news!

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

COVID Reopening

Are you planning your triumphant return back to a Broadway house this fall? Make sure you're up-to-date on all of the current COVID safety guidelines for entering theatre houses in NYC:

  • You must be 14 days out from your final COVID vaccine dose by the date of the show
  • Proof of vaccination, in the form of either your physical vaccine card, a photo of your card, or one of the digital vaccine apps, will need to be presented with your ticket
  • Masks are required whenever inside the venue, with the exception of eating and drinking breaks

Not everyone is thrilled with NYC's COVID mandates, however: A group of Off-Broadway theatres is taking the city to court over its Key to NYC program, saying that the initiative mandating proof of vaccination to enter their venues discriminates against entertainment venues specifically, while houses of worship in the city are not required to abide by such a directive. The mandate currently also applies to indoor dining, movie theaters, concert halls, and gyms in the city.

Talks between Hollywood's major unions and producers have tentatively extended the Return to Work protocols through the end of the month, with no word on a more structured layout of safety measures being discussed past that date. Members of the SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, the DGA, Basic Crafts, and the Teamsters have been working to solidify what a long-term set of COVID protocols may look like through the upcoming fall and winter months, as infection rates decrease but still remain a factor as colder months approach. As of now, all of the previously-agreed-to zone and testing strategies will remain in place.

IATSE Strike Authorization

IATSE members took another step in their looming strike movement last week by canceling their streaming subscriptions en masse, in the hopes of sending messages to the largest online platforms that their voices must be heard, and heard as soon as possible. "I'm assuming somewhere along the way, some algorithm will pop up saying, 'Hey, we’re losing business because of this,'" said United Scenic Artists, Local 829 member Kevin Lee Allen. "I hope my friends who aren’t in the business do the same kind of thing, so it sends the economic message." Talks have stalled between the union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios. The unions have been negotiating since May on a new contract, and are seeking to address long-standing concerns, including long hours on set, streaming wage scales and residuals, and the stability of the pension and health funds.

UPDATE: Yesterday, IATSE members voted to approve a strike authorization, giving the union president the power to shut down film and TV production across the country. The vote passed with 98.7 percent support, and 90 percent turnout — a resounding outcome that the union hopes will strengthen its bargaining position.

CAA & ICM Merger Continues to Shape Up

The entertainment world is still reeling from last week's announced merger between agency giants CAA and ICM, consolidating the long regarded "Big Four" entities - WME, UTA, CAA, and ICM - effectively into the Big Three, if approved by regulators in the coming weeks, It was a deal months in the making, some believing being in response to the growth of WME since their modest IPO in April, though it's no secret that bargaining power is at a premium in Hollywood these days, and strength in numbers seems to be the name of the game.

Analysts are nonetheless worried about what the new partnership may mean for the future of smaller agencies. CAA taking ICM under its wing was seen as an industry giant taking on a "runner-up" rival, a trend that may endanger boutique agencies' independence in the years to come. Others remain more optimistic - Verve co-founder Bryan Besser says he's "excited about the opportunity this creates" for his agency and others like it. "We are sticking to the path we’re on, the one that’s been working for us, which is to go left when most go right."

In any case, a merger of this magnitude doesn't come without its casualties. CAA is said to be taking a "careful and measured" look at staffing across the board, but significant cuts are almost guaranteed in order to make the venture viable. WME underwent a slimming down period during their merger in 2009, and while the same is bound to occur in the months ahead, CAA execs are doing their best to shift emphasis to their clients: "[O]ur whole strategy is about representation, and about being aggressive advocates for artists," CAA's Bryan Lourd said. "With this deal, we feel really righteous about it, and it’s going to serve the clients in every capacity."

SAG-AFTRA officials, meanwhile, are no strangers to changing agency landscapes either, pledging to keep a keen eye on the upcoming proceedings: "We will carefully scrutinize this combination of two storied talent agencies to ensure that performers will benefit from, and are not disadvantaged by, the deal," SAG-AFTRA national ED Duncan Crabtree-Ireland wrote in a statement.

Streaming

Netflix has teamed up with organizers of the United Nations’ COP26 international climate conference to create a group of films and shows aimed at promoting themes of sustainability and eco-friendly content. The "Together for Our Planet" collection features 30 series, films, and documentaries meant to engage audiences of all ages on the topic of climate change. 62% of viewers polled in a recent survey found that they were interested in watching climate-minded content on the streamer.

With more and more actor contracts being consolidated by way of digital media buyouts and streaming licensing agreements, union advocates and industry analysts are continuously revising how to best protect actors' work once the final scene is wrapped. Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel, however, says it's never been a better time for actors to sit at the contract talk table. "Talent is getting paid throughout this process, and they’re getting paid very, very well," Emanuel said of WME's negotiation strategy, saying that platforms' rush for solid content has given actors and agents "massive leverage" in landing big deals. Go out there and land yours! 💰

Has anyone else been obsessed with SQUID GAME in the last few weeks? The Korean drama has catapulted to the head of the Netflix viewing chart, drawing widespread support across the industry, with even Jeff Besos taking to Twitter to acknowledge the show's meteoric rise and praise Netflix growing international strategy. Previous streaming juggernaut BRIDGERTON is set to be eclipsed by the up-and-coming drama, making it one of the most popular international releases to date. Check out Netflix' full list of top shows and movies!

Industry Intel

The latest iteration of the Bushwick Film Festival has officially set its lineup for this year's hybrid event, which will feature over 135 indie films from 27 countries. The festival will also feature a smattering of NFT's in the form of short films, events, and panels, showcasing the future of digital/cryptoart from some of the industry's leading designers. Interested participants can purchase tickets for the live events, or stream the offerings for free on BFF's online platform.

After a nearly 12 year hiatus, the original LAW & ORDER is set to make its triumphant return to NBC. "There are very few things in life that are literally dreams come true," L&O creator Dick Wolf said. "This is mine." And understandably so: the storied writer/producer signed a five-year, nine-figure deal with Universal Television in 2020, outlining provisions for several series across multiple platforms, with the revived LAW & ORDER being just one of several new titles in the Wolf World. The details on the original cop drama are few and far between at the moment, but NYC actors should definitely keep it on their radar as casting begins to shape up!

The TV industry's embrace of non-Nielsen rating systems continues to pick up speed with the announcement that ViacomCBS will team up with VideoAMP to develop a new tracking system for digital and linear ad viewers. ViacomCBS COO of ad revenue John Halley still believes that Nielsen will be paramount in the future of ad measurement, saying that the traditional rating house will need to explore new types of methodologies to adapt to the growing needs of advertisers in the digital space.

The intensely restrictive Georgia abortion ban will not be taken back up for review at this time, a federal appeals court ruled last week. The state received massive backlash from its booming film and TV industry when the bill was originally passed in 2019, before an ACLU lawsuit before a district judge had the motion overturned in July of last year. The eyes of the entertainment industry now remain on Texas, which is currently navigating its own abortion ban set to be presented in a new Supreme Court case in December. Several productions have already made their intentions to leave the state known if the bill stands, prompting state film and TV agencies to do what they can to keep projects from crossing state lines.

A new app currently in beta in the UK is seeking to streamline the reporting structure for workplace harassment in the film and TV industry. Call It! asks users three questions after every work day, starting with "How were you treated at work today?" followed by a green, orange or red button corresponding to the employee's treatment that day. At a time when 84% of workers in the UK's film and TV industry have reported experiencing or witnessing bullying or abuse at their place of employment, Call It! hopes to serve as the necessary game-changer in creating a more safe and equitable workplace in the years ahead.

Immigration in the Spotlight for Fall Premieres

A major storyline across networks this fall has been tackling immigration in an authentic light, and a group of female writers and studio heads sat down with WBTV to discuss the importance of telling these stories in 2021. For Gina Yashere, who's holding down a triple title as actor, co-creator, and EP on BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA, it was important for her to show how the main character's love found an even stronger bond through their immigration story: "It’s just a story about love and their triumphs raising their kids in another country. BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA is the coming together of two families from different cultures finding commonality, love, and inclusion."

The production team of UNITED STATES OF AL found themselves recounting part of their own stories in this season's premiere, as many returned to Afghanistan to evacuate their families during the swift rise of the Taliban in August. "I had never experienced anything like that," EP and co-creator Maria Ferrari said. "So we chose to tell that story in the premiere, hoping that some of the fear and urgency we were feeling in that room would come through in the story."

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The most recent iteration of Variety's Women's Impact Report is celebrating the triumphs of a group of LA-based women who kept the industry afloat during some of the most difficult days of COVID. Studio execs, agency partners, marketing gurus, and more highlight this list of incredible women that ensured some of the industry's largest players - Netflix, Disney, CAA, and more - were continuously moving forward, while still emphasizing the importance of work-life balance and taking time to process the never-ending 2020-2021 news cycle.

The Howard Entertainment program officially opened applications for its third year of applicants, promising to widen the pipeline for Black and other underrepresented talent in the film, TV, and other areas of the arts and entertainment industries. Originally formed as a partnership between the university and Amazon Studios in 2019, program participants receive training through their spring semester related to their desired business, before taking on an internship in the field the following summer. "[W]e are more committed than ever to helping new voices join the conversation and continuing to mentor our Howard Entertainment students," Amazon Studio head Jennifer Salke said. "We know these programs will benefit our industry as a whole and create future leaders."

The UK entertainment landscape continues to struggle with diversity in key leadership positions, as a new study from media regulator Ofcom found that companies' focus on filling entry-level positions with diverse talent has left a dearth of such employees at the C-suite level. Just 16% of TV broadcasting staff are from diverse ethnic backgrounds, and only 10% of the same group occupy roles in the radio industry. "[F]or the first time, more people are leaving the industry than joining, particularly women, while disabled people remain significantly underrepresented," Ofcom's Vikki Cook said. "So we’re calling on broadcasters to slow the revolving door and focus on retaining and progressing talented people from all walks of life."

Oscar-winner Aaron Sorkin says he and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD director Bartlett Sher have been making adjustments to Sorkin's script ahead of the show's reopening to reflect the events of the past 18 months. "[R]acism in this country didn't begin in the last 18 months. It didn't begin in 1960, when Harper Lee published the novel, or in '61, when the film came out. So, unfortunately, it's a pretty sturdy story," Sorkin told Vanity Fair. "But everything that's gone on-George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, the BLM movement-is on our minds as we're doing this."

Broadway's first Black-owned merchandise business is making waves with its first round of merch for THOUGHTS OF A COLORED MAN, which started previews last Friday. Founded in July, merch. seeks to create affordable price points for every level of theatre-goer, pledging to put an emphasis on local sourcing, inclusive sizing, gender neutral designs, and supporting minority owned vendors. "As the first Black-owned merchandise company in the Broadway community, we created merch. to not only be included in the conversation but to add to it," co-founder Brandon Gloster said. "We couldn't be more excited that Thoughts of a Colored Man gave us the opportunity to join the table!"

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What to Watch & Read

Lover of podcasts AND Broadway? Then do we have a list for you 👀

Looking for some industry viewing this week? Three new Broadway-centric docs are dropping in theatres and/or PBS, showcasing the Great White Way of yesterday, as well as a glimpse of where we could expect live theatre to head in a COVID world. Check them out! 🎬

Atlantic Theatre Company's Practical Aesthetics program focuses on using all that is available to an actor to make the most of both a scene and a career, and actor Langston Darby perfectly captured what the program has meant to him. 📖

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September 28, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

I hope everyone has had an enjoyable start to fall here these last few days. It was a bit weird welcoming in autumn and watching the Tony Awards within a few days of each other this week, but as with anything else since March 2020, flexibility has been the name of the game for everyone these days 🤷‍♂️ Just happy to see things feeling a bit more normal with each passing day.

A quick reminder that we will be hosting our next event with Actors Connection tomorrow afternoon at 3 PM EST - come chat with us about where the industry is heading during the next few busy months and how you can stay ahead of the curve! And don't forget Abi's first UTDA tutorial coming up in early October; no registration required!

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

74th Tony Awards Finally Hits the Stage

After over a year of waiting and wondering, the beloved Tony Awards finally made its way back to the public eye on Sunday evening, doling out the top prizes for onstage performances dating all the way back to 2019. CBS opted to split the award into two parts - the awards presentation, followed by a live concert event, bringing the whole night up to a whopping four-hour run time once the final curtain closed.

The star-studded night featured a host of high energy performances from acts like Leslie Odom, Jr., FREESTYLE LOVE SUPREME and MOULIN ROUGE, which ran away with 10 wins by the time the night was over. The Baz-Luhrmann brainchild was joined by the CHRISTMAS CAROL reboot as the winningest play of the evening, taking home five awards for its run in 2019.

Of the surprising in's and out's of the evening, one notable show was missing from any winner's circles - SLAVE PLAY, which led the pack with 12 nominations, the most for any play in Tony's history, walked away without a single victory. The top prize for Best Play went to Matthew Lopez' THE INHERITANCE, crowning Lopez as the first Latine Tony-winning playwright. "This is the 74th Tony Awards, and yet I am only the first Latine writer to win in this category. I say that not to elicit your applause but to highlight the fact that the Latine community is underrepresented in American theatre, in New York theatre, and most especially on Broadway," Lopez said in his speech. "We constitute 19 percent of the United States population, and we represent about two percent of the playwrights having plays on Broadway in the last decade. This must change."

Because the theatre waits for no one, Playbill is already lining up the who's who of the 2021-2022 season. Start making your watch lists now! 🤓

Here's the full recap of the evening's festivities:

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

A new management and production company is taking aim at the continued lack of trans representation in Hollywood with the goal of improving the portrayal of trans characters both on screen and behind the camera. Transgender Talent Agency, owned and operated by trans individuals, was founded by second-generation trans activist Ann Thomas as an extension of the UCLA program that educated students on transgender patient care. "With daily news both positive and negative, and misinformation out there about our community, we must put education and authenticity at the forefront of this movement," Thomas said.

THE WIRE creator David Simon is currently working on a new project centered around the anti-abortion laws in Texas, but will not endeavor to shoot the series there due to the laws themselves. "I can’t and won’t ask female cast/crew to forgo civil liberties to film there," he tweeted. "What else looks like Dallas/Ft. Worth?" Dozens of productions and companies have been reviewing their shooting plans for the Lonestar State after an intensely restrictive six-week abortion ban went into effect several weeks ago. The Dallas Film & Creative Industries Office has been attempting to assuage the backlash to the law, responding to Simon's tweet: "Laws of a state are not reflective of its entire population. Not bringing a production to Dallas (a big 'D') only serves to further disenfranchise those that live here. We need talent/crew/creatives to stay and vote, not get driven out by inability to make a living."

JAGGED LITTLE PILL Producers Investigating Claims of Misconduct

Former JLP cast member Nora Schell took to social media last week to share their experiences from the early performances of the show, during which time Schell was "intimidated, coerced, and forced by multiple higher ups to put off critical and necessary surgery" to remove growths from their genital area. Schell joined Celia Rose Gooding in speaking out about the mistreatment of trans and non-binary actors in the production, and both have made the decision to leave the show as a result. Actors' Equity has since responded to Schell's claims, which also noted that the stage manager who downplayed their medical issues was a VP of AEA, and promised to "conduct a comprehensive investigation of this incident and the individuals involved.... immediately launching an external review of all [their] policies and procedures with the wellbeing of all [their] employees in mind."

CAA to Acquire ICM Partners

Word broke midday yesterday that Creative Artists Agency is set to take on ICM Partners in the largest agency deal since WME and Endeavor merged in 2009. The deal has been months in the making, with break-throughs seeming to be few and far between until talks finally came to a head in the last week. "The strategic combination of CAA and ICM bolsters our collective resources, expertise, and relationships to deliver even more opportunities for our world-class clients to build their careers and their brands across multiple disciplines and platforms in an evolving marketplace," CAA wrote in a statement. "We’re fortunate to have a partner in ICM who shares our commitment to the widest and most inclusive vision possible for what our clients and company can accomplish together."

IATSE Strike Looms As Workers Push for Better Hours, Wages

Labor union IATSE continues to explore all its options as talks with producers and studios at AMPTP continued to falter late last week, as other Hollywood unions continue to filter in their support for the long-standing workers' union. While a strike remains a solid possibility, not all studios will be affected: the union's current agreement with HBO, Showtime and Starz does not expire until December 31st, 2022, meaning that IATSE members working on any of these shows would still be able to work without breaking the united front if a strike were to occur in the coming weeks. The union's Basic Agreement with AMPTP expired at the end of July, and negotiations for more structured rest periods, living wages, and better benefits have yet to bear any fruit. A strike authorization agreement vote will begin Friday, Oct 1st and run through midnight on Oct 3rd EST, with a 75% member majority required to formally begin a strike.

Nielsen Rival On The Horizon?

TV ratings giant and industry-standard Nielsen may soon be receiving some competition, if talks between networks and ad agencies continue to gain momentum. Both groups have been unhappy in recent years with the rating house's assessment of multi-channel viewership, saying they will require a different counting format in order to make their viewership models more accurate in an increasingly non-linear world.

And the powers that be have been listening: Nielsen recently lost its accreditation from the Media Ratings Council, the many audience-measurement certifier in the market that may have given the stalwart an edge of a new competitor. While some moves have been made behind closed doors at Nielsen - recently announcing an impression-based system for 2022 to replace the traditional targeted system that counted simple viewership - networks and agencies lie in wait to see if the decades-old company can pivot to the 21st century, or if their usefulness has potentially run its course. In a world where studios and producers are continuing to value who is watching their content and how to keep eyes glued to their platform, the price of ratings isn't going anywhere but up 

Industry Intel

Netflix landed a major acquisition last week with the announcement that they landed the Roald Dahl Story Company, securing the rights to the British writer's entire catalog for production and distribution. The streamer had already greenlit two projects - one series based off of WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and a new adaptation of MATILDA THE MUSICAL - and the company is already eyeing expanding more of the Dahl universe for live-action films, games live theater, and more. "Netflix and The Roald Dahl Story Company share a deep love of storytelling and a growing, global fan base," Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos said. "Together, we have an extraordinary opportunity to write multiple new chapters of these beloved stories, delighting children and adults around the world for generations to come."

In case you weren't on social media last week - there's a Super Mario Bros movie in the works, and the cast is, well, something. Chris Pratt as Mario. Charlie Day as Luigi. Jack Black as Bowser and Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach? Yeah.... the jury remains out on this one, but me and my Gameboy Color are pretty excited for the chaos none-the-less 🤷‍♂️

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures finally opened its doors last week, complete with an unveiling ceremony hosted by Tom Hanks and Anna Kendrick. "Movies continue to be the magical art that speaks to everybody, everywhere, and does that art deserve to be honored and explored in a museum? I hope the question answers itself," Hanks said in the opener. The museum, located in downtown Los Angeles, will house decades of film artifacts and memorabilia, in the hopes of preserving the manners in which films were made from the early days of the true "motion pictures" to the IMAX world of today.

Speaking of which - have you seen the world's largest IMAX theater that opened last week in Germany?   The record-breaking screen - with a span larger than that of a Boeing 737 - will welcome the next James Bond flick NO TIME TO DIE, featuring sequences shot on IMAX cameras. Think it's time to buy my ticket ✈️

Longtime SEX AND THE CITY cast member Willie Garson passed away last week at the age of 57 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. While best known for his charming wit as Stanford in SATC, Garson also made a name for himself in shows like WHITE COLLAR and HAWAII FIVE-0. Our thoughts are with his family this week 💙

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September 21, 2021

Happy Fall, UTD!

I don't know about you, but it's finally starting to feel like Fall to me, as it should be given that tomorrow is the Fall Equinox 🍁. There is often this misconception that Labor Day is the herald of the busy Fall season, it just isn't the case. I find that it takes until the end of September for everyone to get on the same page and move full speed ahead. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot happening right now! Theatre auditions are back with a vengeance and Film & TV are barreling forward with most projects either in production or eyeing an October/November start. It seems as if the industry has found a clear way of moving forward in this post-pandemic world (at least for now).

To help you navigate this busy season, Annie & I are back offering free workshops! Join us next week for our online seminar BOOKING FILM / TV WORK AND MUST HAVE MARKETING TOOLS with Actors Connection. This is a great opportunity to learn how to use the Up-To-Date Actor to get ahead of the audition notice and take bold, well-informed, action. Click on the link for more information and to register.

Starting in October I will be hosting a monthly 1-hour Up-To-Date Actor tutorial with detailed information on how to get the most out of your subscription. Each session will be centered around a topic and will then have a general Q&A at the end where I will answer your specific questions about the Up-To-Date Actor. No active subscription is required.

In preparation, I want to know which topics/features you want to learn more about. Some suggestions: 

  • How do I find projects I am right for? What do I do next? I received a notification for one of my targets, what do I do next?
  • Researching and starting an agent/manager campaign
  • How do I log my audition, meetings, and events? Why is record keeping important?

These are just a few suggestions of larger topics, please email info@uptodateactor.com and let me know what topics you would like covered. Again each session will start out with a smaller focus so that there is time in the hour for your specific questions. The first session will be Thursday, October 7th at 2 PM ET. The topic will be announced next week!

More events will be announced in the coming weeks. You can always find our upcoming workshop schedule on the Up-To-Date Actor. Hope you can join us!

Now, onto news!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Emmys

As I'm sure you know, the 73rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards were this past Sunday. If you missed the whole thing here is a complete list of all of the winners.

Netflix took home the most wins by any streaming service or networks. Netflix's total 44 wins ties CBS' record in 1974. It’s ironic since the ceremony aired on CBS, which in the sad state of network affairs won nothing from its primetime show this evening. Only NBC, with SNL (which counting last weekend’s Creative Arts wins took eight Emmys overall) racking up another win for Variety Sketch Series, kept the Emmy broadcast from being a complete washout for the four broadcast networks who once exclusively ruled this roost.

Between Netflix & Apple's  "crowning" British Invasions (THE CROWN 👑, TED LASSO ️⚽️) and newcomer HBO Max's terrific and upset wins for HACKS, it was a great night for streaming services. Amazon and Hulu, which had previously and repeatedly beaten out Netflix, did not have many takeaways. In fact, Season 4 of Amazon's HANDMAID'S TALE came out as the biggest loser. Winning 0 of 21 of its nominations. Ouch! Especially considering the showrunner's recently said the show might be ending.

And on the aforementioned British Invasion - more than half of the primetime awards were given to UK series & talent. 🇬🇧

Speaking of who was and was not awarded, not a single acting award was given to a Black, Asian, Latino, or actor from an underrepresented group at the Emmys (better known as the #EmmysSoWhite). This comes despite numerous nominations for I MAY DESTROY YOU, THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, and BLACK-ISH. Last year, four of the 12 main categories were won by Black actors.

On a positive note, women swept the comedy and drama directing awards. THE CROWN'S Jessica Hobbs won Outstanding Directing For a Drama Series and HACKS' Lucia Aniello Won Outstanding Directing For a Comedy Series, respectively. This marks the first time women have swept both directing categories in the same year.

Still want more Emmys insight? Here is a great op-ed.

Television in Transition

In celebration of the Emmys, last week Variety released a five-part series examining the transformation of television. Take a look at each issue for in-depth industry analysis. Each one is on a different topic but be sure to look at numbers 1 and 3 For insights on changes to the Fall Season format as well as how COVID and globalization have changed casting.

  1. Season: TV’s Fall Season: Why It Endures Despite Streaming’s Surge and the Content Explosion
  2. Development: Mini Rooms Drive Major Controversy as Creative Community Feels Strain of TV’s Vast Expansion
  3. Casting: How COVID and Globalization Have Upended TV Casting: ‘Some of the Magic Has Been Lost’
  4. Marketing: Tune in Whenever You Want: How TV Marketing Has Changed in the On-Demand Era
  5. Metrics: What Metrics Matter Most? TV Industry Grapples With Ratings Shortcomings in Fast-Growing Content Landscape

Lights...Camera...Vax

SAG-AFTRA and the Joint Policy Committee of the advertising industry have agreed, for the first time, to allow commercial producers to mandate Covid vaccinations on commercial shoots and auditions. The new guidelines are an addendum to their existing Covid safety protocols and are similar to those already in place on film and TV productions. "We are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement on a policy that permits employers to require mandatory vaccinations for cast and crew on commercial productions," SAG-AFTRA told Deadline. "This policy is in addition to our current protocols on testing and set safety, all of which continue to help ensure the safety of our members on sets. Similar to other policies permitting producers to require mandatory vaccinations, performers must be notified at the earliest point in the process as well as notified about the procedure to trigger the interactive process if there is a request for a medical or religious accommodation."

Georgia on My Mind 🍑

UTA is expanding to Atlanta, billing its full-service presence in the burgeoning entertainment and sports market as a first for any major Hollywood agency. Atlanta has been expanding as a home for film and TV production, with a number of new soundstages coming online and potentates like Tyler Perry establishing a major footprint. A number of advertising agencies and digital firms have also set up shop along Peachtree Street. The Savannah College of Arts and Design, which puts on the well-regarded Savannah Film Festival about 250 miles east of Atlanta, also has an Atlanta campus, where it stages an annual TV festival.

Broadcaster Gray Television has acquired Third Rail Studios, a film and TV production facility in Georgia, from Integral Group for $27.5 million. The studio, built in 2016, is adjacent to and will now be integrated into a studio and community development Gray is building in Doraville, about 20 minutes from Atlanta. The project, called Assembly, is currently under construction at the former site of a General Motors assembly plant. Third Rail Studios' clients include Netflix and Apple and productions from OZARK, to RAMPAGE with Dwayne Johnson, MILE 22 with Mark Wahlberg, the Dolly Parton series, and THE BALLAD OF RICHARD JEWELL. Apple has leased a significant amount of space within Third Rail Studios to help fulfill its production needs.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

A new report from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative— released to coincide with the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month—finds popular movies continue to marginalize Hispanics and Latinos. The investigation—co-authored by Ariana Case, Zoily Mercado, and Karla Hernandez —assessed leading and co-leading Hispanic and Latino actors and all speaking characters across 1,300 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2019, as well as their presence working behind the camera as directors, producers, and casting directors. It’s important to note: Hispanics/Latinos spend $1.7 trillion as consumers. They account for 25 percent of movie tickets sold. "Whether in leading roles or across all speaking characters, the absence of Hispanic and Latino actors and characters is noticeable. This community represents nearly 20% of the U.S. population and nearly half of Los Angeles residents and yet remains almost invisible onscreen," Case said in a statement.

On a positive note, last week The National Hispanic Media Coalition premiered its Latinx Stream Showcase to uplift and promote Latinx talent in the entertainment industry. The presentation showed 7 short films written, directed, acted, and produced by Latinx talent for an audience of industry executives, casting directors, producers, agents, managers, and audiences for consideration both above and below the line. The showcase can now be viewed online. Read more for details.

According to the latest “Boxed In” report from Dr. Martha Lauzen, More than half (52.2%) of the major characters on streaming programs shown during the 2020-21 season were played by women – an increase of seven percentage points from a year ago and a "recent historic high." The report also found that percentages of females in all speaking roles (45%) for both broadcast networks and streaming services have reached "recent historic highs," with the broadcast networks up from the previous high of 44% in the previous year, and streaming shows dead even with the percentage they achieved in 2018-19. Read more to see the full report.

The Women’s Weekend Film Challenge has selected eight emerging writers as fellows for its inaugural pilot accelerator program, which will feature three weeks of intensive training followed by the chance to pitch to studios, production companies, and executive producers. WWFC, founded by Katrina Medoff and Tracy Sayre in 2017 to promote gender equity behind the camera and on screen, is best know for its signature film challenge that has produced 30 short films with more than 700 female filmmakers, as well as running production workshops. The accelerator is designed to help emerging writers with completed scripts advance their careers as well as boost representation of women and non-binary people in TV.

Check out this article on the need for diversity and authenticity in Hollywood and how several producers are fighting for their seats at the table.

Tony Awards

The 74th annual Tony Awards are this Sunday, September 26. The celebration is being split into two parts. Audra McDonald will host the awards portion starting at 7 PM ET on Paramount+ and Leslie Odom Jr. will emcee a live concert event, Broadway's Back! airing at 9 PM ET on CBS, Paramount+, and the CBS app. This format received much criticism when it was announced several months ago. The Tony Awards have a history of poor viewership, falling to a record low of 5.4 million during the last televised broadcast in 2019. Many see CBS' move to streaming only (...who has Paramount+ anyway....? 🤷🏻‍♀️) as a bad indicator to the future of the award ceremony on network television.

Broadway is Back!

This past week Broadway fully opened! HAMILTON, WICKED, LION KING, and CHICAGO were just a few of the megawatt musicals to open their doors and welcome vaccinated audiences. The New York Times has extensive coverage of the openings along with hopes and concerns for remaining open and the economic impacts for the city at large.

Finishing the Hat 🎩

The wait is soon to be over - Sondheim announced last week that he has been working on a new musical with hopes for a 2022 Broadway or Off-Broadway debut! The musical titled SQUARE ONE is being written with playwright David Ives. 91-year old Sondheim also shared that a reading of the new musical took place last week (which is rumored to have featured Nathan Lane and Bernadette Peters). Stay tuned for more info!

Currently Casting

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Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


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September 14, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

Last weekend was a big one in entertainment as the Creative Arts Emmy and Video Music Awards crowned this year's winners, and with the Primetime Emmys set to drop this Sunday evening, it's safe to say the fall award season is officially underway. The rest of the industry is still a bit quiet from the late summer/early fall turnaround, but we still have plenty to chat about this week, so let's get to it!

Peace & Love ✌

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

Upcoming Free Events

Broadway Remembers 9/11

The American theater community was one of the first to reopen its doors following the horrific events of 9/11, and the 20th anniversary of the tragedy found itself squarely placed amidst a familiar, uneasy reopening environment in the US. But as only arts workers can do, a bubbling resilience rippled across the country last weekend, as COME FROM AWAY's performance in Washington D.C. welcomed thousands to the National Mall and others shared their stories of how the theatre helped reunite a nation in grief.

Author Christina Ray Stanton shared how LaChanze's performance in the May 2002 reunion concert of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND spoke to a city and nation that was still very much in mourning, the actress herself having lost her husband in the attacks: "I had seen this show many times, but never had the lyrics held more meaning. When Ti Moune’s parents sang, 'New dreams are everywhere, choose your dreams with care,' I heard them like it was the first time. Sitting in the third row, my heart—closed and shut off since the attack—cracked and melted, and I started sobbing too. For the first time since 9/11, I let my heart open up, and I finally let myself mourn in a way I hadn’t before."

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Shake-ups continued among the top brass of the Times Up organization last week as Eva Longoria announced her departure from the group, alongside the decision to dissolve the 71-member advisory board that included names like Reese Witherspoon and Jessica Chastain. Former CEO and president Tina Tchen resigned her post last month after allegations that she provided counsel to ousted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. "It’s okay to make mistakes in the efforts to topple the patriarchy," Longoria said of the current trajectory of the organization. "We’ve been under thousands of years of a patriarchal society. It’s not going to topple in the three years that Time’s Up has existed. We have so much more work to be done."

Discussions between IATSE representatives and the AMPTP have yet to produce a new back-to-work deal, after negotiations over the weekend resulted in a continued stalemate. While the threat of a union strike looms with each passing day, union negotiators are hoping to have their requests for broader COVID protections and a more generous revenue share from streaming projects met before members are forced to the picket line. "The most important thing we can do now is show our solidarity," one union negotiator wrote in an update email to members.

A new indie film studio promises to bring fresh opportunities to filmmakers from underrepresented communities, specifically women, Latino and LGBTQ+ filmmakers. Avenida will offer fledgling productions support in crowdfunding and production needs, as well as affordable access to its 70,000-square-foot studio space in Echo Park near downtown Los Angeles. Featuring art from local Latino artists, studio heads Fanny and Nelson Grande have high hopes for what they will be able to accomplish in the months ahead: "We want people to feel like, ‘OK, I have all the comforts and everything I need. You don’t get the scraps, the leftovers—everything that they really need to feel inspired."

Playbill walked alongside the hundreds of protestors that gathered for the Trans March on Broadway last week, as organizers called for equitable treatment and respect for trans artists in the Broadway community and beyond. "I want this march to show people not only in the theater district, but in the entertainment industry at large, that trans people can exist in these spaces," trans activist Sis said. "The point is to showcase a group of trans people existing as they are."

It is no secret that Broadway has plenty of work to do when it comes to creating space for previously underrepresented communities on its stages, and the League's first Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion takes that charge personally. Gennean Scott shared her plans for the future of diversity on Broadway, acknowledging the troubled past of performative activism and, at times, non-exist transparency surrounding the League's goals for DEI initiatives. "Honestly, for many years the League hasn’t done a great job of communicating about our actions or even our new programs, but that’s why [the DEI Director role] was created: to listen to our members and the community, serve as a resource, expand our existing slate of programs and provide even greater access to all," Scott wrote. "People need to know that our commitment is not just talk."

Movie Theaters Enjoy Summer Viewership Boost

The box office is back, baby! Movie houses across the country raked in an astounding $1.75 billion in revenues from May 7th to Sept 6th, accounting for 80% of the total year-to-date box office in the US of $2.21 billion. Disney came out on top with $438 million, followed by Universal and Focus with $407.4 million.

Many are pointing to the strong numbers of Disney's SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS as a validating win for theatrical releases, and rightly so: The latest Marvel flick raked in a whopping $94 million over the four day Labor Day weekend viewing window. And with the next installment of the VENOM and JAMES BOND franchises waiting in the wings during October, theater owners are feeling vindicated in their faith in physical viewership after the COVID shutdown. "In places where people feel safe … the results have been there," IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond said.

AMC also capitalized on the Labor Day box office rush with their first ever national ad featuring Nicole Kidman, a $25 million endeavor meant to stir up the uneasy movie-goers of the country and assuage any doubt that theaters are the place to be for movies as we head into the fall. And more safety reinforcement may soon be on the way: President Biden laid out his recommendations for live event venues in the country as shows and movies continue to premiere, asking for vaccine requirements or proof of negative tests as a requirement of entry. Biden previously set forth an emergency order that mandates all companies with 100+ employees to require vaccines of its workers.

Industry Intel

Today's closely-watched California recall vote is receiving extra eyes from productions concerned with the future of the state's generous tax credit, which embattled governor Gavin Newsom signed into law back in July. Nearly all prospective Republican replacements are in opposition to the incentive program, which provides up to a 25% discount on production spending in CA. The election is currently running in the state, with polls closing tonight at 8 PM PST.

The 2021 Creative Arts Emmys took place last weekend, with industry favorite THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT raking in nine wins as a part of Netflix 34 trophy dominance at the ceremony. Disney+ pulled in 13 awards, headlined by THE MANDALORIAN's seven wins. The Primetime Emmys is set for this Sunday on CBS, tune in to see which productions take home the top acting and ensemble prizes!

The BAFTA's have set their 2022 eligibility requirements for its 2022 season which runs from January 1st, 2021 to March 31st, 2022. The first round of changes put into place before the 2021 nomination pool was hailed as a success for representation, as many in the industry felt that BAFTA's 120 new changes ushered in a significantly more inclusive field. This year's changes include the re-implementation of a theatrical release requirement for films debuting after July 1st, updates to the voting process, and more.

Film technology has been enjoying a renaissance of sorts during the COVID shutdown and production restructuring, as the advent of LED screens becoming more commonplace among projects that are able to afford the pricey tech. Slowly taking the place of the tried-and-true green screen approach, designers have begun dabbling with LED billboard tech that allows them to project images behind the action in real time, cutting out the need for a more lengthy post-production process. "It’s that amazing blend between the practical and the digital that is so fun about this technology," ILM's ED of virtual production Chris Bannister said. "As new storytellers get involved, it’s just going to continue to grow the opportunities of the technology and there’s just more and more stories that can be told with it."

In case you didn't see this on social media last week - Steve from BLUE'S CLUES is here to deliver all the feels as a part of Nick's 25th anniversary of the iconic kid's show. Grab some tissues 😭

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The Future of TV

Looking down the Disney+ slate for the next few years, one thing becomes clear: Franchises and spin-offs are quickly becoming the name of the game, at least at the House of Mouse. Disney only announced one new film during its investor presentation that included what seemed to be a never-ending list of TV shows destined for the streamer over the next few years. So how does that leave room for innovative new shows on the industry's largest streaming platforms? "The easiest thing to do if you’re a studio is to pull from what you’ve already got — that’s kind of step one," one analyst said of companies' willingness to revive old titles over greenlighting new works.

Not all hope is lost for creators looking to push new titles. Nielsen's weekly ratings of the most-watched shows featured Netflix titles in every slot in the top 10, most of which are only in their first or second seasons. OUTER BANKS and HIT & RUN took the top two slots, and while the survey only covered content from Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video and Disney+, the findings point to a continued eagerness from viewers to seek out new and diverse content in 2021.

And ironically, Disney might still be banking on that being the case. The newest class of the company's directing program will set students in the driver's seats of some of the studio's biggest episodics, including BLACK-ISH, SNOWFALL, and GOOD TROUBLE. "We are grateful for the support and partnership of our participating Disney productions, showrunners and producers, as well as our creative executives and senior leaders, who are all helping accelerate our participants’ careers and ensuring that diverse directing talent is fostered and championed at our company," Disney's Tim McNeal said. The future of TV may be a mix of new and old, past favorites revived and present binge-worthy hits, but in any case, I'm continuing to hope that we are making space each day for new voices and underrepresented talent to make their way to the television table 🤞

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A Call to Reshape the Theatre

As we've written about extensively over the last few months, Broadway and regional theatre in the US has been the subject of a much-needed revision and revitalization process, and with any hope, the fruits of the industry's labor will become more visible on stage and at creative decision-making tables in the months and years ahead.

Is a new landscape as close to the horizon as the banner DEI initiatives would lead you to believe? Time will tell, but the emergence of projects populating the likes of the August Wilson and the Lyceum that would, at one time, have only been considered for Off and Off-Off Broadway venues paints an interesting (and hopefully encouraging) picture of how the industry has responded to the activism of the last year. Broadway newcomer PASS OVER has floored audiences for several weeks now (myself included), and producer Matt Ross believes that Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s latest work may just be a sign of the changing times. "I don’t think there’s an increased appetite for these plays. What I think has increased is our acknowledgment of an appetite that has long existed," said Ross. "Why couldn’t these plays be a dominant form of Broadway?"

And then there comes the pervasive issue of access. U.K. director Dan Hutton argues that theaters are not unlike parks in their public offerings of spending time together and taking in entertainment, but you'd be hard pressed to find a theater that you could stroll in for free, as is the case for nearly any public park. "In short, we have as a society come to the conclusion, consciously or otherwise, that investment in public parks is inherently a good thing: The purpose they serve is worth investing in for the benefit of all," Hutton wrote in his book TOWARDS A CIVIC THEATER. "But for the most part, if we want to engage in the output of the theatre in some way, we have to pay a ticket price, likely to cost anywhere between $10 and $200."

Now extend this question to those who are on the precipice of their career, and their only avenue to a professional life of theatre is through the industry's favorite gateway: The unpaid internship. There are only a certain percentage of individuals who can afford to take on these roles, most of which require at least 40 hours a week in the theatre world, and without their experience, it becomes incredibly difficult to build a resume and establish stepping stones to the higher echelons of the industry. Advocacy group Lift the Curtain polled hundreds of interns from the past 10 years to collect their experiences and form what they hope will be a list of requirements for organizations offering intern positions, but the road is a long and winding one at best. We must continue to advocate for more sensible, accessible entry points into our industry, particularly for individuals from underrepresented communities, in order to adequately create the next generation of inclusive theatre both in front of and behind the curtain.

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September 07, 2021

Happy September, UTD!

We hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend and is enjoying the dip in activity as the industry takes a quick end-of-summer break before the busy fall season ramps up. Right now is a great time to make sure that all of your marketing materials are up-to-date and ready to roll when production and auditions resume later in September. If you need help formatting your headshot or resume, send us an email at info@uptodateactor.com and we'd be happy to help!

Also, Annie & Abi will be back offering free workshops starting this month. We hope you can join us at Actors Connection later this month and look for more dates to be announced in the coming weeks.

Peace & Love ✌

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

Industry Mourns Passing of Michael K. Williams

Hollywood is still processing the loss of Michael K. Williams, the five-time Emmy nominee known for his incredible work in THE WIRE, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, and LOVECRAFT COUNTRY. "The depth of my love for this brother can only be matched by the depth of my pain learning of his loss," Williams' WIRE co-star Wendell Pierce wrote on Twitter. "An immensely talented man with the ability to give voice to the human condition portraying the lives of those whose humanity is seldom elevated until he sings their truth." Our thoughts are with Williams' friends and family this week 💙

Fall Reopening Coming Into View

A staple of Times Square and Broadway, the TKTS booth will officially reopen under the red steps next Tuesday, September 14th at 3 PM with enhanced health and safety guidelines for those waiting to snag New York's hottest tickets. Both printed and contactless tickets will be offered at the booth, and all TKTS employees will be vaccinated and wearing clear masks to help increase accessibility for the hearing impaired. Welcome back to the neighborhood, TKTS! 🎫

WATCH: A star-studded return to Broadway video, headlined and narrated by Oprah, dropped last week to herald the exciting month of reopening ahead for Broadway. These are the goosebumps I've been waiting 18 months for 😍

The Off-Broadway landscape just got a little bigger with the addition of the AMT Theater on West 45th Street. The 99-seat venue will focus on presenting new works, cabarets, and children's theatre, all thanks to Broadway entrepreneur Al Tapper, whose main goal is to develop artistic ties between the US and Mexico. "We're going to take our time, we want this to be as gorgeous an Off-Broadway house as any in the city," Tapper said of the theater's current trajectory, which is slated to open its doors early next year. "But the moment we open our doors you're going to see a beehive of activity that won't stop."

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Industry Reacts to Texas Abortion Ban

All eyes have turned to Texas in the past week as the state began enforcing its horrendous six-week abortion ban, enabling citizens to sue any party that may be suspected of helping the procedure in civil court. As the Supreme Court refused to overturn the ruling, many in the entertainment industry began to liken the measure to the Orwellian world of THE HANDMAID'S TALE, forcing studios and production entities to reassess whether they will continue to do business in the state. Companies like Disney and Netflix were among the first to decry Georgia's "heartbeat bill" in 2019, vowing to remove their productions from the state and cease injecting millions in production spending if the bill came into law.

Hundreds in Hollywood took to social media to voice their disbelief at the ban, with many signing and sharing a Planned Parenthood petition to repeal Texas' SB8 law and protect the right of people with uteruses to make their own choices about their bodies. "We should all be able to make our own decisions about our health & future," Kerry Washington wrote on Twitter. Similar measures are currently being debated in states around the country, with the Supreme Court slated to take up a case challenging Roe vs. Wade this fall, casting an uncertain shadow on the future of reproductive rights and healthcare in the US.

Industry Intel

Fran Drescher has officially been elected the next president of SAG-AFTRA, succeeding current union president Gabrielle Carteris and besting opponent Matthew Modine by a 52.5% to 47.5% margin. Drescher's running mate, Anthony Rapp, fell to Modine's Joely Fisher for secretary-treasurer 57.7% to 42.3%.

Looking to keep tally on the big players for Broadway casting? Check out this running list of which companies are setting the casts for the fall reopening, and don't forget to Target them on The Up-To-Date Actor to keep track of upcoming auditions and networking events 😉

Effective October 8th, Disney will be raising the prices for a Hulu subscription from $5.99/month to $6.99 for the basic, ad-supported plan, and $11.99/month to $12.99 for the ad-free option. Prices for the Disney package and live TV service will remain unaffected 📺

Howard University has a new name for its Fine Arts program - the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts. The late BLACK PANTHER superstar and HU graduate was a fierce advocate of preserving the college, after University officials had considered consolidating it into its bigger College of Arts & Sciences counterpart several years ago. "An icon in his own right who has left an immeasurable legacy for the next generation," the University wrote in a tweet. "Thank you Mr. Boseman."

WATCH: Industry Good Guy Mandy Patikin is off on the road again, and {9ba98) decided to record three Hebrew blessings to play for his dog before her meals when she's missing him. I mean what's not to love? 🥰

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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Marvel's SHANG-CHI took the Labor Day box office by storm this past weekend, raking in $94 million and posting the best box office numbers for a Monday since the pandemic began. Star Simu Liu and director-writer Destin Daniel Cretton sat down with Deadline's Hero Nation podcast to discuss the important role that blockbuster movies like SHANG-CHI will play in the future of widely consumed authentic representation on-screen. "Kids growing up today will have what I never did growing up, which is somebody across that screen reflecting who they are, and showing them what is possible," Liu noted on the podcast. "What is possible if you’re a superhero, is anything."

Advocates took to the streets of Manhattan yesterday in support of creating space for trans actors on Broadway, after recent transphobic comments from producer Cameron Mackintosh calling the casting of trans actors in classic musicals a "gimmick." Nearly 200 marchers moved from Central Park to Shubert Alley and made space for trans actors from Broadway and the larger entertainment community to speak about their experiences and hopes for the future of casting in the industry. "Of the trans faces I see, I see actors, performers, speakers, writers, and creators. And I don’t see a single 'gimmick,'" RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE star and actress Peppermint said at the rally. "What I see are opportunities, and it’s time that they—they who are in the business of Broadway—know it."

Sony is taking a huge step forward in the fight for equality for actors with disabilities, vowing to audition any such actors for each of their upcoming productions. The company is the fourth major studio to sign the Ruderman Family Foundation pledge to open up opportunities for actors with disabilities, and to push for improved portrayals of disabilities in the future. Sony joins NBCUniversal, Paramount, and CBS on the current slate of top studios having signed with the Ruderman doctrine.

A new partnership between the Black Theatre Coalition and John Gore Organization will support collegiate juniors, seniors, and recent grads interested in a career in commercial theatre. The Black Theatre Coalition/Broadway Across America Fellowship will hold 10 paid part-time positions for Black theatre makers across the US in areas like marketing, finance, and venue management, offering networking, skills development, and educational opportunities to build a life in the arts. "Careers in this industry start from the ground up, and we’re excited to help usher in a new generation of young and ambitious theatremakers," the groups said in a joint statement.

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Currently Casting

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August 31, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

And just like that, August has come to a close. This summer has felt like it's lasted a lifetime but also wasn't Memorial Day just last week... Pretty weird if you ask me. I celebrated a birthday over the weekend and was incredibly thankful to usher in another year with some friends in the city, and am feeling so very hopeful for the year ahead. With more and more jobs returning each month and production getting back to pre-pandemic levels, I've honestly never felt more excited to be an actor. I spent some time yesterday updating my vision board to reflect my goals for the fall and my next year of life, and I'm ready to start manifesting a whole new world for myself in the months ahead 🌄

The industry news cycle was a bit quieter this week, as is normally the case around the late August/Labor Day break, so we've got a quick sprint email for you today. Enjoy!

Peace & Love ✌

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

Career Consultations with Annie

Are you interested in working with our career guru Annie Chadwick on mapping out a plan of success for the upcoming busy fall season? Starting tomorrow, her updated consultation will be as follows:

NEW CLIENT
1-hour consultation $150

  • includes a review of marketing materials submitted 24 hours prior to the session
  • 5 business days of email follow-up questions on the work that we outlined in our consultation

RETURN CLIENT
1-hour consultation $100

  • includes a review of marketing materials submitted 24 hours prior to the session
  • 5 business days of email follow-up questions on the work that we outlined in our consultation

30 Minute Consultation $60

  • Includes a review of marketing materials submitted 24 hours prior to the session

Please Note: After a 6-month period of not working together, you will be considered a new client.

All sessions with Annie include a review of your current marketing materials and five business days of email follow-up questions discussed during your consultation. If you are interested in working with her, please email anniechadwick@gmail.com to set up an appointment!

Production Updates

The sprawling Georgia Film & TV landscape will be welcoming a new two-acre soundstage to Savannah, set to break ground next month. The $40 million undertaking will join Savannah College of Art and Design's three sound stage, 22,000-square-foot production hub in the city, a popular destination for outdoor film shoots in projects like ANT MAN AND THE WASP, FORD V FERRARI, and FORREST GUMP. The new facility, KAT-5, will pull its name from its ability to withstand a category 5 hurricane, opening up the door to serve as a potential FEMA staging area in the event of a tropical storm in the area.

The bustling California tax credit scene revealed its latest round of recipients, which includes Eddie Murphy's BEVERLY HILLS COP 4, Salma Hayek's ESCAPE, and Jonah Hill's DIXON. The nearly two dozen projects in last month's incentive drop will receive $138.7 million from the state as they expect to create $678 million in "qualified spending" during the spans of their productions.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Black Theatre United has released the findings of a five-month comprehensive program with industry professionals - casting directors, producers, unions, and owners - that spells out where the collective would like to see Broadway turn its attention toward in the coming months and years. The New Deal for Broadway is broken up into two parts: Initiatives that can begin immediately (before the majority of Broadway reopens) and long-term goals for the industry over the next one to three years. "For far too long, Black artists, theatre makers and technicians in all areas of our industry have been subjected to systemic and interpersonal racism that has harmed their lives and careers and diminished us all," BTU's report shared, going on to outline training programs, revamping casting efforts and a call for producers to "never assemble an all-white creative team on a production again, regardless of the subject matter of the show."

A survey of UK TV viewership found that 62% of audiences believe that political correctness has gone too far, underscoring a larger discussion by comedians, journalists, and other British media personalities about their role in shifting public opinion on any number of hot button issues on screen. "[I]f we’re going to represent the masses, the public, we need a higher bar for what diversity really is," journalist and presenter Mobeen Azhar remarked. The disparity between opinions of the general public and TV professionals is clear: 63% of TV industry folks see the British Empire in a shameful light, compared to only 23% of the public. GB News journalist Inaya Iman spoke further on the role of media in changing and shaping opinions in the country: "The best thing to do is to present a range of views so someone can make their own judgment, to trust people to hear a range of perspective and come to the one that rings most true with their own experience."

Lin-Manuel Miranda shared his hopes for the future of authentic representation on screen at the Edinburgh TV Festival last week, discussing the importance of keeping the foot on the gas as the industry continues to reopen and move forward. "People actually want stories they haven’t heard before, and that only comes when we have a chorus of voices, a panoply of voices that we haven’t heard or seen before," he said while reinforcing the work that needs to be done to support early-career artists and open up access to those that may not be able to break into the film, TV or theatre industries as they currently stand. "[S]ome of it is really attacking that stuff systemically and supporting folks who are at the ground floor level of this industry and making sure a living wage exists so that [a person] can make a living doing the thing [they] love."

Industry Intel

Broadway & film star and all-around good guy Mandy Patinkin shared some personal details about his iconic performance as Indigo Montoya in THE PRINCESS BRIDE after a fan on TikTok discussed the role of Patinkin's father's passing in informing how he approached the character. "The minute I read the script, I knew," Patinkin said in a response video. 'I'm going to do this part because in my mind if I get the six-fingered guy, that means I killed the cancer that killed my dad, and I’ll get to visit my dad.'" He went on to send some encouraging words to the fan, who recently lost her father to cancer in March: "Your dad is taking care of you."

Big fan of THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT? I know I certainly was, and it sounds like Anya Taylor-Joy truly found her home in creating the character of Beth Harmon for the Emmy-nominated show. Check out her interview with Deadline about the importance of green-lighting female-led series in 2021, and how her personal approach to Beth made for one of the most rewarding experiences of her career ♟

Deadline also sat down with HAMILTON star Daveed Diggs to discuss the life-changing impact that the blockbuster musical had on his career. "The secret sauce with Hamilton was allowing everybody to be their full selves onstage," Diggs said of his time with the show. "The bonus that comes along with it is all of that person’s collaborators too... Were it not for this show, I’m not sure our lives would have collided like that to the point where we’d be collaborators." Read the full interview here!

Jeff Daniels sang the praises of his former GOD OF CARNAGE co-star James Gandolfini's iconic turn as Tony Soprano in a recent interview about Daniels' upcoming series AMERICAN RUST. "The Sopranos changed television, as did HBO, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu. All of a sudden you have all these other places to go," the Emmy winner said, sharing his excitement for the advent of companies like Showtime and Starz that have packed writers rooms with talent that may not normally populate typical linear studio rooms. Whereas cable shows may cater to a more traditional show structure, streaming channels allow for "characters that have rich, deep, layered existences," and more accurately reflect the world we live in today. Keep the authentic content coming! 📺

Currently Casting

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Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

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August 24, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

Can anyone tell me where my summer has gone? It's been a surreal past few weeks, watching production continue to take off and regional theaters announcing more casting calls and solidifying companies for their upcoming seasons. And I'm happy to say - I saw a BROADWAY SHOW last week 😲 Everyone MUST go see PASS OVER at the August Wilson; it was an incredibly thought-provoking welcome back to Broadway, and the actors who carry the show are masterclasses in scene work and character study. Get your tickets!

Lots of bits and pieces and continuations from stories we've been chatting about a lot over the past month or two in the email this week, so let's get to it!

Peace & Love ✌

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

Disney vs Black Widow Continues

The fallout from Scarlett Johansson's litigation against Disney continues as Disney took a swipe back at the BLACK WIDOW star this weekend, requesting that the case be moved into a confidential arbitration arrangement in New York, rather than moving forward with the trial slated for October. "After initially responding to this litigation with a misogynistic attack against Scarlett Johansson, Disney is now, predictably, trying to hide its misconduct in a confidential arbitration," Johansson's lawyer said in the aftermath of Disney's filings, all but ensuring that the Oscar nominee's team will push for an in-person court battle to present evidence of the company's breach of contract.

The road to creating an equitable client contract with a studio or production company is long, winding, and oftentimes fraught with disagreement. And the current trajectory of theatrical vs streaming releases will only continue to complicate negotiations moving forward. Variety's cover story last week dove into the intricacies that agents and entertainment lawyers are continuing to navigate - theatrical vs streaming, release windows, how much is owed to whom, and by what date. Enough to make your head spin, to say the least. Hollywood's A-listers are asking for more than ever to compensate for hybrid theatrical + streaming model - Daniel Craig is set to receive over $100 million for the next two KNIVES OUT movies, as an example. And all signs point to studios and streamers continuing to pay top dollar for named talent on their projects, in order to win eyeballs from the ever-growing sea of competition. May the best studio win 👀

Theaters & Streaming: Determining Film Success in 2021 and Beyond

"There’s no question that long theater runs legitimize a movie," IndieWire wrote in its recent episode of ScreenTalk, dissecting how and when a movie can capitalize on audience approval and industry hype to ride into box office glory and a successful award season. The landscape used to be much more simplistic: A good movie = a long theatrical window. With so many contracts stipulating 45/60/90 day release windows before hitting platforms, not to mention the controversial day-and-date strategy, analysts are hitting a wall in determining how to delineate which movies are finding success, and which will be washed away by the next weekend's release slate.

Streamers have become accustomed to keeping their viewing numbers close to the vest with pretty much any of their titles, deviating completely from the opening weekend box office model of days gone by and making it that much harder for viewers to decide what to watch, instead of flipping through their eighth run of PARKS AND REC (couldn't be me...). Take some time to listen to "The Future of Movies" with IndieWire's Box Office Editor to learn where our industry's reporting structure may be headed, and how that can affect actors' contracts moving forward.

Television Academy Sets Emmys COVID Plan

Attendees for the year's Primetime Emmys and Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be required to show proof of vaccination as well as a negative COVID test in order to enter the event, two of a handful of precautions that the Television Academy is taking to keep people safe as the Delta variant continues to drive up the COVID infection rate in Los Angeles. The shows, held over two weekends from September 11th through the 19th, will be limited to only nominees and a guest and will be held outside in an air-conditioned tent behind the Microsoft Theatre in LA.

Deadline's annual award season panel discussion - Contenders Television - is officially live on Deadline's streaming site. You can check out discussions with dozens of guests from this year's most exciting series ahead of the Emmys in September. Listen to what the stars of the small screen have to say on their process for making the best TV of the year come to life 📺

Industry Intel

The latest phase of industry restructuring talks has turned to work days for cinematographers, as a group of DP's hope to address the "hazards of unsafe working hours" that their section of the industry has had to handle for decades. "Most notable are the numerous car accidents our colleagues have suffered in recent years, including the weekend before we entered these negotiations," referring to the disturbing history of post-shoot accidents that cinematographers have dealt with after sometimes working behind the camera for up to 14 hours per day. "This past year has shown that when employers and craftspeople work together to confront a world-wide safety threat, it is possible to both protect everyone on our sets and successfully complete the most ambitious projects," the collective of DP's wrote in a letter to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Streaming services continue to implicitly win the day in the battle for talent and viewership as more writers share the positive experience of working with the typically more lax approval structure of places like Hulu and HBO Max. "A lot of other places that didn’t understand our show or tone, they would have set these characters together faster," HACKS creator Paul W. Downs says. "But HBO and HBO Max were so collaborative and understanding of our wanting to build the backstory and the world." An increasing number of writers seem to be in agreement with Downs, and the results speak for themselves - streaming shows blew traditional TV out of the water in Emmy nominations this year, as has been the growing case since streaming content really began to blossom.

Is this the end of the line for worthwhile linear offerings? Not so fast. A growing cacophony of cries from young writers looking to make a name for themselves is grabbing attention as Hollywood deals with a dwindling number of showrunner apprentice positions, as most streaming services finish writing before filming begins, eliminating the potential for on-set experience for young writers looking to learn from industry vets. The linear model is much more friendly to these positions, offering a more accessible writers room to up-and-coming scribes hoping to snag their first authorship credit. Time will certainly tell how all of these issues play amongst themselves, but it's safe to say the clock is ticking ⏰

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Reopening Broadway & Beyond

It's surreal being able to type this, but I sat in a New York theater last week and watched a Broadway show. For anyone who's ready to do so, I highly recommend PASS OVER on Broadway, a WAITING FOR GODOT meets Biblical philosophy 80-minute one-act that I can't wait to watch again. BROADWAY IS BACK, BABY 🥰 Check out the current reopening status for each show, and the COVID protocols keeping everyone safe along the way.

The Broadway community is, understandably, pretty freakin' ready to get back into the swing of things too. "I think theatre is essential in helping us understand our feelings around all of the things that keep us awake at night," Celia Keenan-Bolger said, particularly of her return to TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. "I believe in its power to not only change us as individuals but as a community. I cannot wait to be in the presence of those 1400 other beating hearts as they sync and set off this next chapter of healing and reconciliation." While the Broadway League has announced that it will not be sharing weekly show grosses for the 21-22 season, saying "the data will not be comparable with previous seasons," I can only imagine how excited audiences will be once every marquee is blazing and the streets are filled with Playbills on a Saturday evening once more.

Are you a theatre professional that left NYC during COVID and is now looking to make your way back home? Places Please Project has partnered with The Actors Fund to provide grants for artists looking to cover initial rent expenses, security deposits, or moving costs. The program is open to actors, designers, stage managers, anyone who helps make the NYC theatre community the wonderful place that it is. Check out the article for full eligibility and submission information!

New Regional Theatre Landscape Taking Shape

When COVID shuttered all live performances venues in March 2020, owners and artistic directors across the country had to make a slew of difficult financial and personnel decisions in order to ensure the long-term survival of their organizations. The unfortunate truth and all-too-familiar narrative became: many of these organizations simply did not have the resources to weather the storm, and our industry endured one of the biggest losses of companies big and small in recent history.

But there is hope on the horizon. Organizations in major regional hubs like Boston and Chicago are releasing their COVID reopening guidelines, including vaccine requirements, negative COVID tests, and mask mandates throughout their fall seasons. "We are pleased that many members of our vibrant performing arts community that will be opening have come together to craft a unified response to this crisis so that audiences can once again experience the joy of live performance without future disruption," League of Chicago Theatres exec Deb Clapp said in a statement.

The reopenings don't come without their fair share of question marks, however. Portland Stage Center is one of dozens of companies slowly adding staff back to their payrolls, leaving some employees wondering how long they may be able to hang around before moving on to other opportunities. "[P]art of our process was not only looking at what positions would come back, but would they be the same positions, or would some positions morph into something else based on the scope of our work?" managing director Cynthia Furman said, speaking to a larger movement of consolidating certain positions at regional theaters to keep costs low amidst ongoing COVID restrictions.

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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

A new film pitch competition is set to help support students and recent alumni of HBCU's in the US. Beats and Macro have teamed up for the first annual Beats Black Creators Summit, which will provide a space for the competition's winners to pitch their film projects to top industry guests later in 2021. The winners will also be invited to the Macro Lodge at the Sundance FIlm Festival in January 2022. "Discovering and empowering Black and brown creatives is at the core of the mission of Macro and I know this effort is just one more step in how we work to increase access and opportunity for the next generation of innovators," Macro Chief Brand Officer Stacey Walker King said. Applications are available for any current HBCU students or recent grads through September 7th!

Kenan Thompson and Tracee Ellis Ross are no strangers to the screen, having both spent decades making the best of the opportunities they've been given in film and TV. With the continued success of the sitcoms - Thompson's KENAN and Ross on BLACK-ISH - Variety chatted with them about the current state of the Black family sitcom, and how the pair have driven conversations around the portrayal of Black families on screen in 2021. "One of the things that’s been so special on BLACK-ISH has been being able to see an American family that is Black — not that happens to be Black — where we are dealing with all of the things that any family is walking through but through the lens, the face, the beingness, the experience and the specificity of what it is to be a Black person in America," Ross said of BLACK-ISH, highlighting their push to emphasis specifically Black storylines that would resonate with Black American families in a way that may have never found their way into living rooms before.

Black women in TV were also the focus of this year's AllBlk "Developing and Creating While Black" panel, hosted by AMC streamer TCA. AllBlk execs and industry participants discussed the growing number of Black women in front of and behind the camera over the past 10 years, and the emphasis on expanding roles for Black women in both comedies and dramas. "There’s not just one way to be Black, there’s so much diversity within the Black race and culture, and different experiences," LACE's Michelle Ebony Hardy said of her work on the 80's miniseries, speaking to the importance of continuing to push for Black representation in every type of onscreen role moving forward.

And slowly but surely, the industry is responding. "We’re starting to see a change that’s happening, not just in front of the camera but also behind the camera and that’s how we shake things up," Starz' Monica Raymund said of the studio's #TakeTheLead initiative, which positions the company as a leader in creating the full package of diverse voices in front of and behind the camera. HIGHTOWN has become the calling card for Starz' commitment to developing underrepresented voices, as the series "is led by a woman, created by a woman, and told by a lot of women." Let's keep the momentum rolling!

A new initiative from the Wallace Foundation is set to research the intricacies of arts organizations of color in the US, with the goal of creating a system of research that maps out how these organizations reach members of their communities. The five-year, $53 program will support 10-12 companies, providing them with funding for both the research leg of the process as well as to develop works at the companies once the research is complete. "By listening to and partnering with arts organizations of color, and documenting and studying their work, we hope to highlight their important contributions and better understand the practices that make them matter so deeply to their communities." Wallace Foundation Director of Arts Bahia Ramos said.

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Actors on Acting

The rise of LOVECRAFT COUNTRY's Jonathan Majors has been equally exciting and compelling to watch, finding his star status from his first lead role in THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO before landing on the HBO pulse-pounder. I'll never understand how LOVECRAFT was canceled, particularly given its impressive 18 Emmy nominations, including a Best Actor nod for Majors. How does he do the work that leads to such notable accolades? "Some days it’s just like the rooms are dark, you have your candles, and you’re just sitting there relaxing and breathing and really preparing for the thing that you got to go do," he said in a recent interview, detailing his meticulous note-taking for every script he works on and how he stays grounded for each project.

It's a sentiment shared by many actors in the industry today. With more physically and emotionally demanding roles comes a heavier emphasis on what we, as actors, can do to protect ourselves while creating our characters onstage and onscreen. "[T]he words on the page made me understand so much more about myself, and a piece of that was letting go. In moments of sadness, you have to heal and you have to care for yourself." MJ Rodriguez said of her work as Blanca on FX' POSE, a role that has earned her the first Emmy nomination for a trans woman in history. It's work that others in the industry have noticed: BLACK-ISH star Tracee Ellis Ross said Rodriguez' approach to motherhood has provided inspiration for her own journey, something that Ross says is among her favorite parts of the business: "When entertainment is done really well, it entertains you, it occupies you and it gives you a safe place to be, expanding your understanding of something that you otherwise wouldn’t have had access to."

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August 17, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

As has been the case for the past few weeks, most of this week's news is centered on COVID and vaccine mandates. As the industry continues to adapt to the restrictions and recommendations from local municipalities and the CDC, production is finding its footing and figuring out how to keep everyone safe while moving full force ahead. Last week there was an article about Los Angeles' production growth and look below for a similar article about production in NYC. Despite the bad news surrounding the Delta surge, production seems to finally be back to pre-pandemic levels. That is a huge sigh of relief for our industry!

Also exciting is how regional theatre auditions are back with a vengeance. Many audition notices we shared this past week mention they will be holding in-person callbacks. That is an incredibly positive sign! While certainly a controversial topic, vaccine mandates seem to be the main way that organizations feel at all comfortable allowing large groups of artists and people to come together again.

As most of you know, my husband and I welcomed our first child in May and we have been enjoying getting to know him and figuring out a good work/play schedule this Summer. I hope you too have been enjoying the Summer and have found a healthy balance between work and play. Look for more of the weekly email updates from me this Fall and new feature announcements as well.

Enjoy these last few weeks of Summer and get ready for a busy Fall!

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

Production Boom

New York City’s film and television industry generated $64 billion in direct economic output in 2019, $12.2 billion in wages and 100,000 jobs, and production – led by TV – is ramping back to pre-pandemic levels, according to film commissioner Anne del Castillo and an extensive new study commissioned by her office. Including its indirect impact, the industry generated $18 billion in wages and $81.6 billion in economic output, according to the 84-page study, the most extensive in some time, that tracks NYC film and television broadly over 15 years through 2019 — a high point with 80 television shows and 300 feature films. State tax credits introduced in 2010 and the rise of streaming have reshaped the business. "On average, we have the same number of shows pre-pandemic. It’s really busy. We have 34 or more projects filming in August in TV, and we are starting to see some feature films coming back," del Castillo said in an interview with Deadline. "My hope is that the report shows people what we had, and what we are working back towards. The industry has an impact that is beyond itself." She leads the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, or MOME.

Some cast and crew members on films and TV shows soon might be required to wear identification that "clearly and visibly" verifies their Covid vaccination status while working on set. "Various things have been discussed, from wristbands to credential badges," a union source told Deadline. Another union source noted that while this doesn’t appear to have gone into effect yet, it will be up to employers to on a production-by-production basis. Central Casting, the leading casing company for background actors, notes on its website that "in order for Producers to enforce rules on the production set that apply to fully vaccinated versus not fully vaccinated individuals, Producers may require workers to wear identification that displays fully vaccinated versus not fully vaccinated status while on the production set."

We've been highlighting the major production companies that have made public vaccine requirements (Amazon, Netflix, etc.) and you can now add Blumhouse to that ever-growing list.

Vaccine mandates are coming in direct response to the Delta variant surge across the world. High levels reported in Los Angeles County, including outbreaks on sets, studio lots, and facilities are leading to production shutdowns and delays. Last week, LA county’s Covid-19 reporting page indicated there had been an NBC Universal Productions outbreak at the address for Santa Clarita’s Firestone Ranch. The county site indicates seven associated infections. The hope is that more vaccine mandates will help slow the spread and keep production up and running.

Vaccine mandates are not unique to Film and TV. A majority of recent regional theatre audition posts indicate that the entire cast and crew will have to show proof of full vaccination. The Kennedy Center and the Ford theatre just joined a growing list of D.C. theatres that will require proof of vaccination for all audience members, artists, staff, ushers, and volunteers.

International Edition

Cinema VS Streaming

Streaming has upended movie business models, but it may simply be pulling demand forward in films' life cycles, while still allowing for fan passion and revenue generation to materialize. That was one major takeaway from a conversation featuring Jim Wuthrich, president of home entertainment and content licensing at WarnerMedia, and Michael Bonner, Universal’s home entertainment president. "There are definitely implications and impacts from model to model" related to streaming, Bonner said, "but the bottom line is, there’s more engagement and that is a net good thing for content. It’s working very, very well in the home right now across all of these models; not just one, but all of them."

That may be true for the life of a film, but tell that to movie theatre chains and owners who have been struggling since the pandemic began. And with new vaccine mandates from some of the largest U.S. cities, cinema needs every bit of help it can get. Disney has been at the forefront of this battle by continuing to commit to a split theatrical and streaming release strategy for its tentpole features. SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND  OF THE TEN RINGS was announced months ago as Disney’s first MCU title of the pandemic era to get a theatrical-only release. This past week, CEO Bob Chapek hinted that releasing SHANG-CHI only in theaters is not a move the studio would make now, citing the "unfortunate" COVID resurgence that the studio didn’t see coming. (Just a few hours before the call Sony Pictures announced plans to delay the release of their VENOM sequel by three weeks.)

SHANG-CHI star Simu Liu took to social media on Saturday to respond to Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s comment. "We are not an “interesting experiment." We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers. We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year. We are the surprise," Liu wrote on Instagram. "I'm fired the f**k up to make history on September 3rd; JOIN US."

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Union Agreements

Actors’ Equity and the Off-Broadway League have reached an agreement for a new three-year contract that includes significant pay raises; Covid protocols; new provisions that strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives; and additional protections that address issues of harassment, bullying, and discrimination. The new pact also includes an option for producers to make their Off-Broadway productions available to a broader audience base through streaming platforms. The two sides said that the agreement’s Covid protocols and other safety requirements "reflect a shared understanding of the needs of actors, stage managers, and producers when it comes to keeping everyone safe from the virus. The safety protocol recognizes the disparate needs of the Off-Broadway Leagues’ members and provides for options that meet those needs."

Industry Intel

A new crew member is being added to some productions in the U.S. and U.K., therapists. THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD and I MAY DESTROY  YOU both employed therapists to help the cast, writers, and crew process difficult subject matters and emotionally taxing scenes. Therapist Kim Whyte was hired to be on set of THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD said, "Some of the cast and crew were disturbed by the content — just the institution of slavery," she added. But just as often, they wanted to talk about issues they were dealing with at home, and how those were having an impact on their mood, like in any workplace. Look for this to become more and more commonplace as more importance is placed on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

A group of four major labor unions representing almost 4 million workers is urging the Federal Trade Commission to block Amazon’s proposed acquisition of MGM. In a 12-page letter sent Wednesday to the FTC, the unions’ Strategic Organizing Center (SOC) argued Amazon’s $8.45 billion takeover of MGM should be blocked to prevent Amazon from amassing more power in the entertainment industry and exploiting that through anti-competitive business practices. "Amazon’s proposed acquisition of MGM would further bolster Amazon’s ability to leverage power across multiple lines of business related to the SVOD market and create further harmful vertical integration in the film industry at large," SOC executive director Michael Zucker wrote in the letter.

The Television Academy is taking the Emmys outdoors. The organization announced Tuesday afternoon that the Emmy ceremonies, both Primetime and Creative Arts, will be held on the Event Deck at L.A. Live, next to the Microsoft Theater — marking the second year in a row that the Emmys were not actually held inside the Microsoft.

The New York Film Festival organizers have set the main slate for this fall’s largely in-person 59th edition, as well as enhanced pandemic measures including a Covid-19 vaccine requirement. Consistent with New York City’s vaccine mandate, which takes effect September 13, the festival said proof of vaccination will be required for all staff, audiences, and filmmakers at fest venues. The event will also adhere to health and safety policies in coordination with Lincoln Center and state and city medical experts.

Diversity & Inclusion

New York casting company The Telsey Office has partnered with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Miranda Family to develop The Telsey Office Miranda Casting Fellowship, providing a two-year, salaried position with the casting office for a BIPOC artist interested in building a career in the casting industry. The fellow will work with casting directors, associates, and assistants learning the craft of casting across Telsey's projects, including musicals, plays, television, film, and commercials. "For so long systemic inequities and a lack of paid training opportunities have kept historically underrepresented communities, especially Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, from entering the casting industry," said Lin-Manuel Miranda. "This fellowship in partnership with Telsey adds a new dimension to our fellows programs, now in its fifth year." Applications are open through September 7.

DreamWorks Theatricals and Music Theatre International are launching a new Writers Program, in partnership with NBCUniversal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion team. The DreamWorks Theatricals/MTI Emerging Writers Program will look to identify diverse teams of book writers, composers, and lyricists with unique voices and perspectives to develop musical adaptations of popular DreamWorks Animation titles intended for the Music Theatre International catalog. The one-year, paid program will be open to individual writers, as well as writing teams. Selected applicants will be mentored throughout by DreamWorks Theatricals execs and other industry ambassadors. The program will also provide access to industry vets and agents via roundtable discussions, master classes, and individual meetings to advance career development.

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August 10, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

I'm gonna keep the intro short and sweet today folks, we have a LOT of ground to cover. COVID concerns are rising around the country, and many are doing what they can to keep employees and audiences safe because lets be honest, no one wants to go back into lockdown. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during the dog days of August. And you know what, I'll be the first to say it... I'm kinda ready for fall 🍂

Grab some fresh coffee and let's get to it!

Peace & Love ✌️

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

Hollywood Foreign Press Association Restructuring Continues

The beleaguered HFPA took its latest steps to completely revamp the organization by adopting a new set of by-laws meant to make the group more accessible and transparent moving forward. Among the newly agreed-to provisions:

  • Members will no longer be required to live in Southern California to be considered, nor will they need to be members of the Motion Picture Association, or work only in print media
  • A new system of addressing complaints and concerns will go into effect immediately, relying on outside organizations to investigate claims and focusing on transparency and accountability
  • Gifts and promotional materials will no longer be accepted by members from outside entities
  • Members will take part in monthly diversity, equity, and inclusion workshops, as well as mandatory sexual harassment training

In the midst of this restructuring, the HFPA also decided to nix its upcoming trip to the Venice Film Festival among growing COVID concerns, a trip that would have cost the already financially-strapped group tens of thousands of dollars. The decision comes on the heels of widespread praise from NBC, Golden Globes, and Dick Clark Production producers over the updated by-laws and newfound trajectory of the organization, with one spokesperson saying, "We look forward to seeing continued urgency, dedication and positive change in order to create a more diverse, equitable, inclusive and transparent future."

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

It's no doubt that women are making strides in Hollywood at a scale never seen in the industry before, but the explicit and implicit gatekeeping of so many areas of filmmaking remains to be a frustrating roadblock for those who do not currently hold A-lister status. With the recent sale of her production company for $900 million, Reese Witherspoon is hoping to continue pushing forward with onscreen female narratives and a promise to "hire more female creatives from all walks of life and showcase their talents," which she feels will be more accessible with the backing of the company's new independent production company owners that are not limited by the red tape of massive, traditional-mindset-driven companies like Disney. With any luck, the acquisition will prove to be just one of a growing trend of empowering female creatives to tell their stories the way they want them to be told.

HBO's fifth annual Asian Pacific American Visionaries has announced its three finalists: Jesse Gi (NEH), Urvashi Pathania (UNMOTHERED), and Jess X. Snow (LITTLE SKY). Celebrating this year's theme - "Taking the Lead" - the short film competition will premiere the three films at the 2021 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in late September, along with making the titles available to stream on HBO Max.

With the wave of long-awaited authentic representation sweeping Hollywood, queer storytellers are determined to emerge from the COVID creative drought into a new era of onscreen and behind-the-camera workmanship. The piece-meal LGBTQ+ characters that we've seen in blockbuster movies the last few years that were then pushed as ground-breaking - looking at you, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and THE RISE OF SKYWALKER - can no longer be considered the ceiling for queer representation in major studio films and television moving forward. "Where's the gay Don Draper? Walter White? Tony Soprano? "Queer people rarely get to be those," QUEER AS FOLK director Stephen Dunn remarked, underscoring what he believes to be sanitization of queer characters that could do no wrong, rather than allowing room for fully fleshed out heroes and villains that audiences see day after day in straight narratives.

IATSE has signed off on its first-ever diversity census, opening the door for examining the make-up of the 15,000 member union that comprises 361 local organizations across the US and Canada. As the onus to pull together these numbers has fallen on the smaller organizations in the past, many have never taken stock of the numbers among their ranks, believing it to be a violation of member privacy to ask about race and ethnicity. Union spokesman Jonas Loeb believes the new measure, going into effect in the spring of next year and each year after that, will represent a turning point for below-the-line representation in the industry: "We're going to do this and we're going to get it right."

PLAYWRIGHTS SUBMISSION: Donja R. Love is sponsoring a new scholarship for playwrights living with HIV, aimed at increasing the visibility of storytellers living with HIV in the future. The winner of the Write It Out! Prize will receive $5,000, funded by the wonderful Billy Porter, along with access to a professional dramaturg for developing a new work, and a stipend from GLAAD. Deadline to apply is September 3rd!

COMPANY MANAGERS SUBMISSION: The Theatre Leadership Project has established a new program that will provide up to five BIPOC company managers or assistant company managers access to financial support, training, and mentorship opportunities. The program is part of a larger initiative from TLP to bolster the number of Black producers and managers in Broadway and beyond, addressing the startling lack of Black talent in those positions currently. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis!

Awards Talk: Gender Neutral Categories, Expanded Fields & More

The Gotham Awards are officially moving to gender neutral categories moving forward, an effort by parent organization Gotham Film & Media Institute to make its fields more inclusive of today's on-screen performances. The Best Actor/Actress categories will be renamed to Outstanding Lead Performance/Outstanding Supporting Performance, and the Breakthrough Award will become the Gotham Breakthrough Performer Award. "We are proud to recognize outstanding acting achievements each year and look forward to a new model of honoring performances without binary divisions of gender," executive director for the Institute Jeffrey Sharp said. Industry advocates have been calling for gendered language to be done away with at the major award shows for years, along with an expansion of categories to allow for additional inclusivity. And with Gotham finally making the move to more-inclusive verbiage, this feels like the perfect time for the Emmys and Oscars to follow suit.

The nominees for the 36th annual Imogen Awards were announced last week, honoring the top Latinx performers in film and TV. This year's theme - "Our Community: Diverse, Talented, and United" - seeks to uplift the exciting increase in Latinx stories onscreen over the past year, with offerings from Netflix, HBO Max, NBC, and more among the frontrunners. Check out the full list here!

Interested in tuning into a more in-depth look at this year's Emmys race? Deadline is hosting a weekend of live-streamed presentations and panels this Saturday and Sunday, breaking down all the hottest races and feature some behind-the-scene takes from cast and creatives. featuring scores of big names like Billy Porter, Uzo Aduba, Kate Winslet, Barry Jenkins and more. Register today!

Check out Variety's full roundup of the awards scene from the past week 🏆

In the Heat of the Fest

We're deep into festival season here as many are gearing up for their late summer and early fall events, and others are already setting their sites on programming for the coming year:

The 24th Annual Reel Black Men Short Film Festival touched off last Saturday with films from over 20 Black filmmakers, virtually presented by the Black Hollywood Education Resource Center. Running through August 22nd, the 21 titles run the gamut of fiction/non-fiction, documentary, horror, sci-fi, and more, showcasing the incredible work of Black creatives over the last year.

The BlackStar Film Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and is shaping up to be the most exciting one yet. Originally tagged as the "Black Sundance," festival organizers are slowly moving away from that delineation and making their mark as a bastion of Black stories and narratives depicting the current state of social justice themes from storytellers across the globe.

Sarajevo Film Festival (Aug 13 - 20th) is celebrating its return to a physical event after being moved online last year. The festival has a long history of overcoming adversity: originating in the mid-90s at the height of the Bosnian War, founders of the festival had a plan to reunite the city and its citizens during a nearly four-year-long siege on the city. Organizers hope to create a similar renewed sense of hope and love of film for attendees at this year's event.

The Beijing International Film Festival, originally scheduled to run August 14 - 21st, has officially postponed the event due to COVID concerns, stating that they would reschedule the festival "if conditions permit."

The London Film Festival (Oct 6 - 17th) will kick off with the world premiere of Netflix's THE HARDER THEY FALL, featuring an all-star cast that includes Regina King, Jonathan Majors, LaKeith Stanfield, and Idris Elba. The film, a Tarantino-esq western thriller, was directed by London local Jeymes Samuel and will receive the opening night treatment, complete with several cast members on-hand for the premiere.

The Santiago International Film Festival will have a second life this fall with Sanfic Industria presenting titles alongside Mexican genre festival Morbido. Scheduled to run Oct 27 - Nov 4th, Sanfic will hold its hybrid virtual and in-person event that includes both screenings and business workshops for the films' creators, continuing the festival's longstanding tradition of developing titles from Central and South America and giving filmmakers a chance to receive feedback on their work and participate in marketing workshops.

Sundance 2022 will officially require all participants attending the live event to be fully vaccinated, director Tabitha Jackson said in a letter last week. The latest iteration of the Park City festival, scheduled for January 20 - 30th, 2022, will continue with this year's hybrid model of both in-person and virtual screenings, hoping to bolster viewership and distribution of the event's top titles.

The Tribeca Festival will continue to roll with its June slot next year, ditching its traditional late-spring run for June 8 - 19th, 2022 in NYC. Tribeca Enterprises CEO Jane Rosenthal eluded to the decision being COVID-related, saying that the festival "may well be back in April in 2023" and that the current decision is "what is best for [their] participants and audiences."

Production Updates and Profits Rising

Encouraging signs of life continue to pour out of the LA film office with a new report that productions logged 9,791 shoot days from April to June of this year - the highest figure since Q4 of 2019. While COVID case numbers are on the rise again across the country, FilmLA president Paul Audley remains cautiously optimistic that productions will be able to continue filming under the current safety protocols and avoid any full shutdowns in the months ahead.

Not all locations have been so lucky. The UK is currently experiencing a spike in COVID-related shutdowns, including season 2 of BRIDGERTON and HBO's GAME OF THRONES prequel HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, after cast and/or crew members came in contact with positive cases. The uptick in stoppages is boosting calls for mandatory vaccinations on-set, though representatives of the UK's Equity union have already made it known that they are publicly against mandating the vaccine "for all sorts of reasons."

Alberta, Canada is the latest international hotspot looking to charm film and TV companies into setting up shop for their upcoming productions. The region's 22% Film and Television Tax Credit, along with the removal of the $10 million-per-project spending cap have combined to create an enticing offer for projects from Paramount+, Apple TV, HBO, and others, resulting in a whopping $400 million spent in the province so far. Oh, Canada 🍁

Studio Profit Reports

Studios and Theaters Weighing Vaccine Mandate Options

It's becoming increasingly clear that working onstage or onscreen in a COVID world and beyond will most likely require a vaccine. In the words of Drama League Board of Directors President Bonnie Comley, if actors or stage crew are still unvaccinated at this stage in the game, "they just won't work." Studios and theaters across the country are slowly falling in line behind the Broadway vaccine mandate, hoping to keep a pathway open for productions to continue uninterrupted as we head into an uncertain fall with the looming Delta variant. Here's a running list of some major studios' and theaters' current vaccine policies:

Disney, Netflix, Google, and Fox Corp received high praise from President Biden last week for their vaccine mandates for employees - "Look, I know this isn't easy, but I will have their backs, and the backs of other private public sector leaders if they take such steps." Netflix also announced that it would require proof of vaccination from its visitors as well.

Amazon Studios is currently holding talks to require vaccinations from all Zone A employees - all actors and those that work in close contact with them - and may only apply to future productions, excluding those that are currently shooting. Amazon would join the likes of individual shows like CHICAGO MED that have set forth deadlines for Zone A workers to receive their first and second doses of the vaccine in order to continue working on the show.

On the stage side of things, the Delacorte Theatre has already established its vaccination policies for the Public's run of MERRY WIVES, requiring all audience members seated in Full Capacity sections to show proof of vaccination, while those in the Physically Distanced sections do not. All audience members must still wear masks. The Public officially reinstated their in-person queue for snagging tickets on July 20th, lasting through the end of the show's run on September 18th.

While not issuing a full mandate, IATSE has voiced its strong support of all members receiving the vaccine before returning to work as well: "We have seen first-hand the devastation COVID-19 can inflict on our industries when it spreads uncontrolled. We can't afford to go back and allow new variants to force our theaters closed and our events canceled."

For the Love of the Theatre: Part 2

As I've spoken about the past few weeks, regional theatres across the country are continuing to undergo a sort of renaissance, revitalizing where they believe their missions lie both in their communities and in the theatre space at large, all while coming to terms with the We See You, White American Theater manifesto that called for far-reaching changes in leadership and representation the country over. One such theater that has found itself deep in the trenches of necessary change is the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, billed as America's Oldest Theatre and a stalwart in the Philly arts scene for well over 200 years. The storied institution has been at odds with many current and former employees who believe a theater that so proudly displays its heritage has lost sight of the diversity and freedom of expression that was fought for and signed into law just down the street from the theater only 32 years before its founding.

According to one op-ed in American Theatre Mag, allegations of misconduct have abounded at the Walnut for decades, many of which tie back to the theater's current artistic director, Bernard Havard. Chief among them is a pattern of excluding individuals of color and from the LGBTQ+ community at all levels in front of and behind the stage, a narrative that has become all too commonplace in the American theatre in recent years. ATM published a response from one former associate director who worked under Havard in years past, claiming that while all artistic directors are indeed not without their flaws, the accusations made against the Walnut AD "depict a culture entirely unrecognizable" to those that have worked with him.

The voices of those who speak out in times like these cannot be ignored. After what we've seen over the past year, the first step of changing a culture is starting a conversation, and I applaud the bravery of those who have stepped into the spotlight to share their experiences in theaters across the country in the hopes of saving an institution that is beloved by so many, even in the times when that love is seemingly not reciprocated. In the words of American Theatre Mag, "These and other details should allow readers to make their own determinations about the theatre's conduct and reputation." Time will tell how these stories shake out, but I continue to hold onto hope that we are moving toward a future where folks from all walks of life will once again feel welcomed in the American regional theatre.

More Articles:

Vying for Space Among the Streamers

In the mix and mash of today's streaming environment, it's becoming increasingly more difficult for smaller players to make waves among the giants of Netflix and HBO Max, let alone find a consistent home among viewers. Paula Madison, CEO of The African Channel, spoke with Variety recently about her commitment to her platform's content and the important work they are doing to bring work about Africa, produced in Africa, into the homes of audiences across the world. "We have plowed every cent we ever made back into the business," Madison said in her podcast interview. "That wasn't easy to do."

The newest numbers from UK regulator Ofcom confirmed just how much British households relied on their screens in the past year, and who can blame them? COVID turned us all into couch potatoes just a bit, and that's perfectly fine 🤷‍♂️ The average viewer spent 5 hours and 40 minutes per day watching content in 2020, up only 47 minutes from the year before. 3 in 5 UK households subscribe to at least one streaming service, chief among them being Netflix, who officially exceeds all pay-TV customers in the country for the first time ever. The Streaming Wars continue....

Industry Intel

SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris is standing with Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit against Disney for its handling of the BLACK WIDOW release, saying the company "should be ashamed of themselves for resorting to tired tactics of gender-shaming and bullying." Johansson sued Disney last month for breach of contract, arguing that the company's day-and-date strategy cost her millions in lost wages. "Women are not ‘callous' when they stand up and fight for fair pay – they are leaders and champions for economic justice," Carteris wrote in support of Johansson's ongoing battle with Disney.

The day-and-date strategy is continuing to find itself under the microscope: ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish shared the company's plans to evaluate future titles' release plans on a "case by case" basis, toeing the line of attempting to keep both theater owners and streaming services happy. The company remains confident in the 45-day theatrical window before moving any of its titles to Paramount+, saying that the situation remains "fluid" and that the pandemic will continue to influence any release decisions in the near future.

The HFPA isn't the only entity drawing ire for its leadership practices. While not nearly at the scale that the Press Association has received its bad press, SAG-AFTRA is under fire for perpetuating a "toxic, oppressive culture" that national board candidate Shaan Sharma says contributes to the "dictatorship" of the organization over the last two years. Sharma has received his fair share of criticism during the campaign as well - other board candidates pointed out a lack of transparency with his own messaging, pointing to what may very well shape up to be an embittered election season for the actors' union.

Office Updates for COVID Protocols

Up & Coming Writers Making Waves

If you've ever been to one of our workshops, you know how much we harp on the importance of meeting new playwrights, reading new works, and finding voices that you can identify with and follow their artistic journies as you continue to cultivate your own. There has never been a better time to start making your list of writers that are creating work you truly love. Ask yourself: Who's writing a world that I know I can live in? What type of language am I seeing onscreen (and soon enough, on stage) that I would love to keep reading/watching and being involved with? Here are a handful of up-and-coming playwrights that will be receiving financial/professional support in the coming weeks and months, but we always encourage you to do your own research and find even more writers that resonate with you!

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August 03, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

Where is the time going? Seems like not that long ago we were celebrating the first day of June and the start of a big, exciting summer ahead. I guess time has a way of getting away from us, regardless of how hard we try to sit and savor it. I hope everyone has been enjoying their time to recharge a bit here as the industry dips down for a few weeks of summer recess; August is typically a slower month as production takes a holiday and everyone resets for the busy fall season. All the same, there's still plenty to chat about from the past week, so let's get to it!

Peace & Love ✌️

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

Disney's BLACK WIDOW Debacle Sends Mixed Signals to Industry

It seems that the tide may be starting to turn on the major streamers' confusing and often questionable release strategies for movies in 2021, as BLACK WIDOW star Scarlett Johansson hit Disney with a lawsuit last week over its dual theatrical & Disney+ debut of the latest Marvel flick. "Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel," Johansson's legal team wrote in their suit, alleging that their calls to renegotiate her contract after discovering the company's day-and-date strategy went unanswered by execs at Marvel and Disney.

The House of Mouse has since responded to the claim, calling it a "callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic" and noting that the film's availability on Disney+ "significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation." Industry advocates were quick to pick up on the implicit double standard that Disney has set for Johansson's filing. "[W]e stand firmly against Disney’s recent statement which attempts to characterize Johansson as insensitive or selfish for defending her contractual business rights," Time's Up, ReFrame and Women in Film said in a joint statement. "This gendered character attack has no place in a business dispute and contributes to an environment in which women and girls are perceived as less able than men to protect their own interests without facing ad hominem criticism."

BLACK WIDOW is just one symptom of the much larger day-and-date disease, which a growing number of analysts feel may be leading the industry down a path of no return. "The availability of many movies outside the exclusive traditional theatrical window provides traditional moviegoers a new option that is likely cannibalizing movie theater attendance," MoffettNathanson's Robert Fishman wrote. As this dual release strategy becomes more common and consistently siphons off more and more money from theatrical releases, distributors may opt to just move their films directly to the consistent return of a streaming service, skipping a theatrical window altogether. While the emergence of the Delta variant is undoubtedly to blame for a portion of the across-the-board downturn in box office revenues in 2021, Fishman argues that it is still up to mammoth companies like Netflix and Disney to set a sustainable precedent for theatrical releases moving forward.

IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond seems less worried about where the future of movie-going is headed. "I think when [Disney CEO Bob Chapek] looks at his data and the pandemic is in the rearview mirror that he’ll come to the same conclusion that everyone else does: The way to maximize value is to have a theatrical window." While Gelfond concedes that the 68% drop in revenue for BLACK WIDOW's second weekend was surprising, the combination of PVOD and an alarming uptick in piracy of the movie is just as much to blame as COVID keeping viewers out of theaters.

All eyes turned to the box office this past weekend, as Disney's latest release - JUNGLE CRUISE - coupled with A24's THE GREEN KNIGHT and Focus' STILLWATER for one of the more highly anticipated release weekends so far this year. JUNGLE CRUISE pulled in an estimated $61.8 million in gross sales, along with what Disney is reporting as "over $30M" from its day-and-date release on Disney+. It will be interesting to see where CRUISE numbers land on its second weekend, but the strong box office numbers are hopeful signs for theater owners that PVOD hasn't completely taken hold of viewership in the US 🎥

COVID Updates

SAG-AFTRA shared a promising jobs report last week, announcing that the union's members racked up $1.5 billion in income in the first four months of 2021, pairing with an impressive 319,000 jobs during the span. Both figures stand as records for their respective categories during comparable time periods, signaling a hopeful shift in the landscape for actors as the industry continues to find its footing in a vaccinated world. SAG-AFTRA's national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland praised the efficacy of the union's return-to-work protocols, reminding everyone to stay vigilant on their projects in the coming months and "not [become] complacent about the virus because it is those very protections that will allow our members to continue to work in the pandemic environment."

The reminder comes at a time when COVID is still very much a looming factor in making or breaking production schedules across the globe. Just two days after SAG-AFTRA's robust jobs report, virus outbreaks were reported at three different production sites in LA, prompting some production companies to make good on Hollywood's new return-to-work protocols and implement vaccine mandates for on-set workers. Netflix has moved forward with its vaccine requirements for all Zone A members on its US productions, with Disney announcing a similar mandate for all salaried and non-union employees. Netflix is said to be considering extending the Zone A vaccinate mandate to its UK-based productions, exploring additional conversations with the British unions after several high-profile shoots in the UK were halted after COVID outbreaks in the last few weeks.

A Whole New (Vaccinated) World

Actors Equity continued its trend of big announcements last week, revealing that a new agreement with the Broadway League will require all cast members to receive the vaccine prior to returning to work. A day later, the League announced that all audience members will also be required to show proof of vaccination to enter a Broadway theater through at least October 31st. Both agreements come with exemptions for medical conditions or religious beliefs, which will be left up to producers for any cast members and will require proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the performance for audience members.

Other theaters not covered by these latest agreements are rapidly following suit: The Hollywood Pantages Theatre and Broadway in Hollywood will both require proof of vaccination through at least October 10th, and will reassess at that point if the mandate will remain in place. New World Stages in NYC will also step in line with the Broadway vaccine requirement through at least October 31st, with all cast, crew, house staff, and audience members required to be jabbed before returning to the venue.

While New York and LA theaters lay out their plans for keeping theatregoers safe, it's worth noting that the safety protocols may only be doing so much to sway public opinion on getting butts back in seats. A survey of over 500 Washington D.C. residents found that only 30% of participants felt "very likely" to attend a Broadway show by October, with the numbers not hitting the 50% mark until May of next year. While the survey was conducted prior to the vaccine mandate instituted last week, survey director Cara Wilken felt that the results "should be seen as a caution to producers for quickly rebuilding Broadway visitor traffic."

Production At Home & Abroad

A new sound stage is set to break ground in the San Fernando Valley, becoming one of the first sites to benefit from California's robust $150 million tax credit bill meant to entice productions back to the Golden State. A joint venture between Hudson Pacific Properties and Blackstone, the Sunset Glenoaks complex is set to be completed in the next two years, after a seven-year delay from complaints from the city and drawn-out litigation. Productions that will eventually shoot at the facility are also expected to qualify for the state's tax credits - regardless of the studio initially being approved for construction in 2015 - which the state hopes will keep projects from fleeing to other film and TV hotspots in the country.

The UK government's lifeline to film and TV over the past year has supported an impressive 640 projects since its inception late last July, allowing the productions to move forward under the country's strict COVID protocols and still churn out hundreds of new films and seasons of shows. The Film and TV Production Restart Scheme dolled out nearly $2.6 billion in grants and credits to any participating productions that were left out in the dark from regular insurance companies who declined underwriting productions faced with delays from COVID suspensions and shutdowns. Findings from the British film institute found that the Restart Scheme, which has been extended until December, is responsible for saving some 55,000 jobs in the industry.

Follow the Money

Several major production companies and studios are reporting encouraging signs of life from their Q2 bottom line, signaling what will hopefully be a steady uptick in production in the months ahead. NBCUniversal enjoyed a 20% climb in total revenue, even considering $363 million loss from fledgling streaming service Peacock, which the company has long been stealing itself for and claims to have expected the platform to lose money at the jump before gaining it back in the years to come. Across the pond, UK broadcaster ITV posted a 26% jump in total revenue in the first half of 2021, with Comcast-backed Sky total revenues increasing 28%, though the company continues to slowly lose out on viewership as the departure from Comcast platforms worsens across the globe.

Aftermath of WGA Spat with Agencies

The Writers Guild of America dropped more than $4.6 million in legal fees during its two-year fight with the top Hollywood agencies that finally wrapped up in winter 2021. The agreement between the WGA and the agencies will eliminate packaging fees by next June, as well as limit agencies and their owners from claiming more than a 20% stake in distribution or production companies. The move is meant to combat implicit bias of agencies favoring their own interests over those of the clients they represent, one of the main inciting incidents that led to more than 7,000 writers dropping their agents in the early days of the lawsuit.

WGA officials issued a recommendation for all on-site members of writers rooms to be fully vaccinated before returning to work in person, while still advocating for remote work to be considered a viable alternative, given the rise of the Delta variant across the US. "We don’t think willingness to participate in an in-person writers room should be a condition of employment at this time," the WGA wrote in a statement, after a survey of WGA East members currently working on streaming and TV shows.

Emmys, Festivals, and More

The 2021 Emmys will officially require proof of vaccination in order to attend their September event. The announcement comes alongside the Television Academy's unveiling of this year's full Creative Arts and Primetime schedule, which will include a condensed broadcast for the Creative Arts Emmys - which honors the behind-the-scenes and technical aspects of television production - ahead of the Primetime Emmys, held Sunday evening, September 19th. The Academy will also forgo the Governor's Ball after the show, electing to stick with hosting smaller gatherings for nominees in different categories in the week leading up to the ceremony.

Variety is all set for this year's awards - check out their newsletter on the top shows you need to watch before the winners are announced, how the fields are different than in years past, and much more!

Toronto International Film Festival revealed its slate for the Contemporary World Cinema and Discovery programs at this year's fest, along with the announcement of TIFF Rewind, a new event that will highlight films from previous years at TIFF and will feature Q&A's with various cast and crew members. Festivals are back! 🎉

The other TIFF - Transilvania International Film Festival (did anyone else not know there was more than one TIFF...) - is also making waves with the announcement of a new segment aimed at honoring top-tier TV series, a move meant to honor the growing number of high-end TV content coming out of Europe in recent years. "The content is really surprising and good," TIFF founder Tudor Giurgiu said. "We are encouraging both producers and writers to learn and understand the mechanics of doing TV series and miniseries." The festival also launched the Drama Room, a three-day event aimed at professionals in Central and Eastern Europe who are interested in developing their own series.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

A new Nielsen report released last week found that representation for characters with disabilities is still lagging far behind the curve, with films accounting for 65% of content with disabled representation, and regular TV series accounting for just 16% of the 3,000 titles surveyed. The report, sponsored by nonprofit RespectAbility and landing on the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, also found that while the presence of characters with disabilities did increase 175% in the last decade, the majority of the roles were still played by actors who did not have the depicted disabilities. "When disability is a part of a character’s story, too often content can position people with disabilities as someone to pity or someone to cure, instead of portraying disabled individuals as full members of our society," VP of RespectAbility Lauren Appelbaum said.

The African American Film Critics Association is set to honor its newest pool of winners at this year's AAFCA TV Honors on August 21st. Barry Jenkins, Jonathan Majors, and Journee Smollett are just a few of this year's honorees, who will be recognized for their excellence in storytelling within the Black community. "[W]e are most hopeful that the vast array of offerings this year point to a permanent shift in the quality and depth of storytelling capturing the Black experience on television," AAFCA co-founder and President Gil Robertson said.

While gains in onscreen diversity continue to make their mark in the industry, progress behind the camera, in writers rooms, and at the highest levels of industry leadership continue to remain stagnant. A UCLA Hollywood Diversity study from last October found that just 10.3% of show creators for digital programs came from diverse backgrounds, with broadcast standing at 10.7% and cable at 14.7%. IndieWire has compiled a list of scripted series overseen or created by artists from underrepresented communities on top streaming and cable platforms - pick a few out and get started!

Sundance Institute has announced the recipients of its inaugural Uprise Grant Fund, which seeks to support the work of artists from underrepresented communities affected during the pandemic. 38 individuals were selected from across the film, theatre, and media industries in the US, earning up to $5,000 in grants for developing their projects moving forward.

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Quick Bites

Manhattan's Paris Theater will open its doors once again this Friday after a rocky two years of ownership exchanges and COVID closures. Now owned outright by Netflix, the single-screen, 545-seat theater will premiere Radha Blank's THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION, along with a week of films curated by Blank herself 🍿

NYC movie lovers! Bryant Park Movie Nights are back and better than ever 😍 Films will show at the park Monday and Tuesday evenings from August 23rd through September 28th, featuring classics like THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN, MOULIN ROUGE, and MRS. DOUBTFIRE. Gotta say, I'm pretty excited.... Endless MRS. DOUBTFIRE quotes are in my future 👵🏻

Safe to say we could all use a little humor in our lives these days. Variety's latest Comedy Impact Report celebrated 35 comics who kept the jokes flowing over the past year and helped us get through this weirdo time with a little levity 🙌

Variety must really think we needed a laugh last week 👀 They also released their 10 Comics to Watch list for 2021, an annual compilation that has previously included Kumail Nanjiani, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes. This year's honorees participated in a virtual panel at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. Check them out!

The latest NYPopsUp event set to take place at Little Island in NYC starting August 11th will feature over 450 performers in a month-long festival showcasing top dance, comedy, and music talent in the city. NYC Free will welcome names like Broadway's Ali Stroker and SNL's Bowen Yang to venues throughout the park, including the shiny new amphitheater. Yay live performances! 🎶

July 27, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

I hope everyone had a great weekend and is enjoying these summer days, wherever you're finding yourself this month. How about this shake-up with Actors' Equity last week? I honestly couldn't believe that they opened everything up the way that they did. Certainly was the talk of the town the last few days! We'll go into more detail on that and a bunch of other bits and bobs ahead, so let's get to it!

Peace & Love ✌️

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

Actors' Equity Changes the Game: Open Access, Extended Eligibility, and More

In an unprecedented move from Actors' Equity Association, eligibility for joining the union has been opened up to any stage actor that can prove they have worked professionally (i.e. received payment) within AEA's jurisdiction. Under the old system, actors could only join the union one of three ways: through an outrighted Equity contract, accruing 25 Equity Membership Candidate points through participating EMC programs, or through existing membership in a sister union (SAG-AFTRA, AGMA, etc). Open Access will remain in place through May 1st, 2023, allowing any actor who meets the new criteria to send in their application and down payment within that time frame.

The implementation of this new pathway to membership comes after a months-long case study from a union workgroup that determined the barriers to entry to AEA were significantly higher for actors and stage managers from marginalized and underrepresented communities. "The entertainment industry is disproportionately white, including and especially theatrical leadership," AEA president Kate Shindle wrote. "The union has inadvertently contributed to the systemic exclusion of BIPOC artists and others with marginalized identities by maintaining a system in which being hired to work those contracts was a prerequisite of membership. We hope that artists from all backgrounds will join us in building a union that uplifts the entire theatre community, especially those who have not felt included or welcome in the past."

Reaction from the industry has been a mixed bag. There is no doubt that the American theatre community remains overwhelmingly white, and many hope that this move from AEA will continue to spur on the shift towards a more equitable, inclusive landscape. I would love to see the union make plans to develop accessible ways of spreading information on the pros and cons of joining the union for actors at various levels. Casting director Michael Cassara took to Twitter with a similar concern: "Genuinely hopeful that the rollout includes an FAQ for performers where the pros/cons of joining a union are weighed + industry veterans stress that no one should join a union until they're ready to join a union. Access is powerful, but career journeys are not one size fits all."

On the screen side of the union scene, SAG-AFTRA reported a $14 million loss in union dues for the last fiscal year ending April 30th, 2021. While staggering on its own, the figure is still "significantly higher" than what union leaders had believed the numbers would be, thanks to a surprisingly high number of members continuing to pay their dues despite a scarce job market and notable delays in unemployment assistance. The board of directors announced that jobs and earnings for SAG-AFTRA members had "rebounded and reached a new high" in the first half of 2021, particularly for commercials and streaming projects, signaling a hopeful uptick in opportunities for the remainder of the year.

Reopening Plans Uncertain as COVID Cases Rise

Fears surrounding the rapidly emerging Delta variant on film sets around the country are prompting studios and producers to rethink an already moving target of on-set protocols that can now include mandatory vaccinations for Zone A cast and crew members and relaxed masking rules for outdoor locations. In LA County, positive rates have climbed above 4%, with vaccinated people accounting for 20% of those new infections. It feels unlikely that the country would go back to any sort of lockdown, but it stands to reason that a major shift in the current numbers must take place in order for any industry to continue on without interruption.

NYC Councilman Mark Levine is among the growing number of leaders calling for a more mindful response to the looming threat of the Delta variant. "It's time to renew the indoor mask mandate, including for those who are vax'd," Levine tweeted, citing increasing numbers in COVID cases in the city over the last two weeks. It's no surprise that the generally unclear reopening response and conflicting messages coming from various levels of government have continued on even during this latest uptick in cases across the country, and other parts of the world aren't much better off. Andrew Lloyd Weber's latest attempt at mounting his London production of CINDERELLA may be completely axed before they even take the stage, after news that a cast member tested positive and the production was halted completely. "It’s hard to see a route forward under the current rules, but we will do everything we can to come back,\” ALW said, prompting continued uncertainty surrounding how feasible it will be to bring back large-scale live theater amidst the rising number of COVID cases.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is still moving forward with his reopening plan regardless, announcing the launch of a two-year, $100 million initiative to revitalize Broadway and remove some of the financial burden of reintroducing shows to 42nd Street. The New York City Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit will be eligible to receive 25% tax credits for applicable expenses in mounting their shows, up to $3 million per production. The program will also prioritize opening access for lower income folks in New York to see shows at little to no cost, as a part of a state-wide diversity and inclusion initiative over the next several years.

Festivals Remain Cautiously Optimistic About In-Person Events

Venice and Woodstock and TIFF and NYFF? That's a lot to keep track of. Here's a breakdown of where a handful of the major festivals currently stand in their 2021 timelines:

New York Asian Film Festival (August 6 - 22nd) - Blending virtual and in-person screenings is the name of the game for this year's NYAFF, which will present over 30 titles from Asian filmmakers that may otherwise not receive their fair share of time in cinemas across the country. Check out the trailer!

Dances with Films Festival (August 26 - September 12th) - It's go big or big home for this year's LA-based indie film show, as the event expands to a three-week timeline to accommodate all 250 films and make room for other smaller events, kickstarting with a Meet the Filmmakers night on the first evening of the festival.

Venice Film Festival (September 1 - 11th) - Organizers for this year's Venice fest are airing on the side of caution with the announcement that all 2020 COVID protocols will remain in place for this year's event, restricting theaters to 50% capacity and maintaining all previous testing and distancing protocols. Quarantine periods will also remain intact for some international travelers.

Toronto Film Festival (September 9 - 18th) - The Canadian government announced last week that beginning August 9th, fully vaccinated U.S. citizens will once again be permitted into the country, with all vaccinated international travelers allowed beginning two days before the festival's kickoff on September 9th. TIFF is typically seen as the gateway to the fall and winter award season, and organizers have already begun naming their highly coveted slate for the September event.

New York Film Festival (September 24 - October 10th) - NYFF is set for a star-studded homecoming at Lincoln Center this fall, welcoming the highly anticipated TRAGEDY OF MACBETH starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand for its opening night selection. The event will blend indoor, outdoor, and virtual elements to showcase its yet-to-be-fully-announced slate.

Woodstock Film Festival (September 30 - October 3rd) - The Hudson Valley-based festival will return to its in-person format this fall after jumping to virtual screenings last year, with plans to honor Neon found and CEO Tom Quinn for his career achievements, leading the studio through multiple high profile successes, most recently with Bong Joon-ho 's PARASITE.

After the high-profile success of Cannes early this month, organizers for many of the industry's biggest film fests are hoping their own events will mark a continued return to normalcy in the entertainment world. It's a pipe dream in more than a few ways, particularly considering the growing uncertainty about COVID numbers around the globe, but the folks at IndieWire argue that, in the words of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN's Lord Cutler Beckett, "perhaps their usefulness has run its course." Creating a universe streaming platform, updating the festival revenue and reporting structure, and switching up film-only offerings with VR crossovers are just a few of the suggestions IW's team has for the future of the festival business.

A Tale of Two States

California and Georgia have been duking it out in the land of increased tax incentives in the past few years, with both of them upping the ante to millions in credits for interested productions looking for a place to park their budgets big and small. In the past year, Oklahoma and New Mexico have made their own passes at luring productions to their states with increased investment in soundstages and other incentives. California's latest injection of $180 million of film tax credits and $150 million for soundstage construction is meant to appeal to companies like Apple, who are looking to establish a permanent base as they eye increased in-house production. Georgia has its own numbers to boast about, however - the film and TV biz tossed the Peach State an estimated $4 billion in direct spending in the last year, undoubtedly a result of the state's impressive $870 million production incentive budget. Let the battle rage on! 🎬

HBO Setting Big Plans for 2022 and Beyond

Execs at AT&T and WarnerMedia have high hopes for what's coming down the pipe for their relatively new streaming service in HBO Max over the next few years. After a strong 2021 Q2 report found that HBO and HBO Max net gained 2.85 million subscribers, it stands to reason that WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar is feeling good about the company's strategy moving forward. "Clearly motion pictures matter and will continue to matter," Kilar said during last week's earnings call, going on to share that HBO Max will play host to at least 10 exclusive titles in 2022 and that the company will most likely resort to a 45-day theatrical release window before moving the titles to streaming, evaluating each on a film-by-film basis. However, episodic offerings aren't going anywhere: HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, the much-anticipated GAME OF THRONES prequel, is already receiving buzz for how well it will be able to pull more users to the platform and offset any potential losses from cinematic releases, serving as the tip of the iceberg for even more shows and limited series expected to be on HBO's slate in 2022-onward.

Industry Intel

Part of California's newest tax incentive program was a requirement of studios to make their future productions "broadly reflective of California’s population." Variety took over 20 Hollywood unions to task to see what the current level of diversity is in production crews in the state, and while the data was muddy at best, a clear pattern was still discernible: individuals from marginalized and underrepresented communities account for far less filled positions than their white counterparts at present. The hope is that the introduction of these tax incentives will spur productions on to creating a more equitable environment in front of and behind the camera, but there is still much work to be done in Hollywood to make that a reality.

Wondering what the current theatrical release schedule looks like for Hollywood's biggest studios? IndieWire has you covered 🎥

Samuel French's 46th annual Off-Off-Broadway Short Play Festival has named Heidi Schreck this year's honorary festival playwright. Schreck gained national recognition for the acclaimed run of WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME, for which she earned two Tony nominations and a streaming deal with Amazon. This year's winners will be announced at an online event on August 12th, receiving a publishing and licensing deal from Sam French.

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July 20, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

Another week trekking through the dog days of summer ☀️ The industry seems to be stagnating a bit here through July, which is typically the case as theaters are reshuffling everything to gear up for their fall seasons, and film & TV schedules continue to shape up for the months ahead. Last week's Emmy nominations were an exciting injection into the entertainment landscape, especially considering just how diverse the field has proven to be this year. Plenty of work that still needs to be done, but it's incredibly encouraging to see folks getting the recognition they deserve.

How has everyone been feeling? I recently completed my first Vision Board after talking about doing it for entirely too long and never following through, and I absolutely love having it next to my desk as a sign of inspiration (and a reminder to get my butt in gear from time to time!). For anyone that might be feeling a bit low on energy about where things are at these days, definitely consider charting out your own Vision Board; I promise it just might bring back that spark you've been looking for. Feel free to reach out to me on Instagram if you're looking for any help or suggestions!

Peace & Love ✌️

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

Emmy Nominations 🏆

The 2021-2022 award season officially kicked off last week with the announcement of the 2021 Primetime Emmy Nominations, which made it clear from the drop that it would be hosting the most diverse field of nominees that we've ever seen in the show's 73-year history. HBO and HBO Max edged out Netflix for the top slot - 130 nominations over Netflix' 129 - with Disney+ racking up 71 in only its second year of eligibility.

Overall, a record 49 nominations in the acting and reality hosting categories went to individuals of diverse backgrounds, topping the previous highwater mark of 36 from 2020 and 2018. HBO's LOVECRAFT COUNTRY raked in 18 nominations, five of which going to Black actors, including Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett, and Michael K. Williams, who picked up his fifth career Emmy nod this year. Williams spoke about his acting journey as Montrose on LOVECRAFT and how, even though the show was not renewed for a second season (I literally still don't know how that's possible...), he hopes the story will serve a testament to the changing TV landscape: 

Montrose as well as the other members of his family, they are the epitome of the Black experience. As Black Americans, we live such levels of trauma and oppression from the outside world and from each other. For Montrose’s experiences, his storylines to be recognized, it makes me as a Black man feel seen. It makes me feel like someone is acknowledging the fact that there is a lot of pain in my community and in the experience of just being Black. Hopefully, we get some healing out of this in a weird way.

Other notable nominations: Mj Rodriguez became the first trans actress to receive a nod in a major acting category (Lead Actress - Drama) for her work in FX' POSE, which also received nominations for Outstanding Drama Series and Lead Actor - Drama for Billy Porter. Rosie Perez's nomination in the supporting comedy actress category made her just the third Latina to receive a nod; Bowen Yang (SNL) and Phillipa Soo (HAMILTON) became the first actor and actress of Asian descent to be nominated in their respective categories as well. Behind the camera, four out of the six drama directing nominations went to female/non-white directors - another historic milestone for the awards show.

Check out the full list of nominees here! 📺

Film & TV Production Boosts

Netflix's newest studio is set to open in Brooklyn this September, providing another stake in the ground for the streamer's ever-growing network of production hubs around the world. The massive 170,000 square foot facility will be home to meeting rooms, editing labs and six sound stages, with enough capacity to film two TV shows at once, or one major movie project. Given that the number of projects filmed in New York has more than doubled since 2015 thanks to the state's increasing tax incentives, both entertainment and political stakeholders see the move from Netflix as an exciting next step in an already bustling industry. Lights up, Bushwick. 🎬

California isn't quite ready to give up the torch as the country's leading film & TV producer: The state's Assembly and Senate unanimously voted to pass a new bill that will inject $330 million in production incentives for projects that decide to film in the state, along with another $150 million to fund new and renovated sound stages. "By investing in the expansion and modernization of studio infrastructure, we can ensure that another generation of entertainment careers will be created in California," author of the bill Sen. Anthony Portantino said. The bill was spurred on by an unexpected surplus in the state's 2021-2022 budget passed last week, which also earmarked $50 million for immediate relief for small theaters in the state struggling to reopen in the aftermath of pandemic closures.

Across the pond, officials at UK media group Ofcom are hoping to court Netlfix into investing more in local public service programming by expanding the country's TV tax incentives. The system has already ensured Netflix enjoyed its time in the UK, given that the streamer has spent over $1 billion on shows there since first setting up shop. British media is currently undergoing a revitalization effort, led by Ofcom, that would set up protections for public broadcast networks like BBC from being completely undercut by digital offerings in the years ahead.

Movie Theaters Vying for Space in Growing Virtual Landscape

COVID-era movie releases aren't getting any less complicated, and if the growing discord among theaters is any indication, it's very possible that we're in for a long battle between when and where we'll be watching films in the months and years ago. The National Association of Theatre Owners spoke out over the weekend of the startling drop in box office numbers for Marvel's BLACK WIDOW, which many believe was the result of Disney's day-and-date release model, splitting time between theatrical releases and Disney+.

Warner Bros made headlines earlier in 2021 for announcing that HBO Max would house all of the studio's slate for the coming year, and it seems that Disney is trying their best to make themselves look like the good guy in sending BLACK WIDOW to theatres and streaming simultaneously, but not everyone is convinced. "Despite assertions that this pandemic-era improvised release strategy was a success for Disney and the simultaneous release model, it demonstrates that an exclusive theatrical release means more revenue for all stakeholders in every cycle of the movie’s life," NATO wrote in a press release, arguing that Disney needs to review its release strategies to not only spread the wealth among those who created the movie but to also combat the increasing loss of revenue from piracy.

Industry Intel

The 2021 Cannes Film Festival is officially behind us, after a star-studded week that included appearances by some of Hollywood's biggest names (keep the FRENCH DISPATCH memes coming, please), and lots of exciting up-and-coming projects to note. As one of the most high-profile festivals to feature what might be the highest in-person attendance since the pandemic began, organizers and industry analysts were keen to watch what the film landscape may look like for projects that dealt with COVID protocols in some form or another, and what it might mean for upcoming award shows later in the year and into early 2022.

The fallout for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association continued last week with the news that the owner of Golden Globes' producer Dick Clark productions - Eldridge Industries - proposed a complete restructuring of the HFPA that would prioritize transparency and inclusion moving forward. While most of the details of the reorganization remain under wraps, some HFPA members have already expressed their displeasure with the provisions, calling the plan a "total non-starter" and hinting that an eventual vote - through which a restructuring of this magnitude would need to be agreed to - would not gain enough favor to pass in its current form.

Fans of Quentin Tarantino's early work RESERVOIR DOGS may still have something to look forward to, after news that an all-Black reboot of the 90's film would not be moving forward. Tarantino is apparently considering a stage adaptation of the story, along with an already-written live version of ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD. "[I]f it’s a strong piece of material, it would work doing it any time," Tarantino said on a recent podcast interview. "It does seem timeless. And then just with a new group of actors, that would have a new life."

A sixth Dorothy dress from Judy Garland's turn in WIZARD OF OZ has been discovered at Catholic University, decades after being gifted to the school by Oscar-winner Mercedes McCambridge. The former artist-in-residence donated the dress to the school's drama department, believing it would serve as "a source of hope, strength, and courage to the students." Guess it's really not in Kansas anymore 🌈

25 tons of sand are being carted into Brooklyn Academy of Music for the U.S. premiere of SUN & SEA, an immerse new opera tackling the effects that climate change can have on a simple day at the beach. Audiences will be treated to a panoramic look at the characters' lives as they navigate conversations about the threats posed to the planet in 2021 and sand. Lots of sand. The show will run September 15-26th at BAM!

A handful of top Broadway names will headline a new musical theatre training program in NYC's Bryant Park this August. Partnering with BroadwayEvolved, BroadwayBound will provide an opportunity for emerging MT artists to work with names like Kelli O'Hara, Denée Benton, and George Salazar both in-person and virtually on the Bryant Park stage, as a way of encouraging early-career singers that have been affected by the pandemic. Theatre finds a way! 🎭

For anyone who's watched TED LASSO, you know just how charming, loveable, and endearingly honest the characters feel. Annie has become a particular fan of the show and felt that this article from Casting Networks did a wonderful job of addressing where our industry currently stands, and why the lessons from season one of TED LASSO can serve as a reminder of how far accountability, honesty and forgiveness can take us. Spoilers ahead!

More Articles:

For the Love of the Theatre

In the conversations of blockbuster projects from Disney, HBO, Netflix, and the like, it's easy to forget the rich history of regional theatres throughout the US that have served as the bedrock for communities big and small over the last 100+ years. An apples-to-oranges comparison perhaps, but as someone who grew up in a small town and had access to exactly one regional theatre, it's not lost on me how important these institutions, particularly groups operating in rep, can be in the earlier years of an artist's development. My family's yearly pilgrimage to Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble to see their Christmas show - typically in the vein of CHRISTMAS STORY, CHRISTMAS CAROL, or some other piece of classic yuletide storytelling - would leave me mesmerized by how wonderful it must be to go up on stage and do what you love every night.

An international director hailing from Ireland recently shared his love for the American regional theatre, saying that the US rep framework "epitomizes all that is best in the American theatre and offers me, as a director, actors who prepare meticulously for every role, are fully focused, highly skilled, and, once they trust the director in question, fully committed to delivering on their vision for the play in rehearsal." Ben Barnes is no stranger to the stage - he recently helmed a full symphonic production for Ireland's national broadcaster RTÉ and works frequently around the world. The result is his unique perspective: US regional theatre simply does not get its fair due.

What can be done about this lack of acknowledgment in the face of commercial institutions like Broadway, I can't say. But whenever folks are doing great work, I believe they need to be acknowledged, and this article gave me some hope that with so many theaters looking inward and making necessary changes to reflect the world we live in today, a new theatrical renaissance may very well be on the horizon. To everyone who has yet to step inside a regional theatre, I defer to Mr. Barnes' parting words: "The loss, I would argue, is theirs."

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Producer Bruna Papandrea doesn't have time for the industry's double standards. The skyrocketing producer behind top-end projects like GONE GIRL, BIG LITTLE LIES and THE UNDOING recently chatted with Deadline about her upcoming slate of shows and movies that she has continued to breathe life into throughout the pandemic, and her desire to continue optioning female-led content in a world where some studios still see it as a box to check rather than a paradigm shift. "But as much as there’s been a groundswell for female stories, it’s still hard," Papandrea remarked. "I don’t care what anyone says, it’s still harder to sell a period piece with a woman at the center than it is with a man at the center. Apparently, men can still do anything they want!" Talk about it. 👏

There have not been any transgender characters in movies released by major studios in the last four years, a new report from GLAAD has found. Narratives involving depictions of HIV or disabilities of any kind have also been all but ignored completely, underscoring a large symptom of neglecting certain storylines all-together in Hollywood's biggest releases. "This is a critical time of transformation for Hollywood – challenged to redefine business lines and practices during a global pandemic, driven by an increased demand from consumers hungry for new content, and rocked by the rightful reckoning and pressure for these studios to create more meaningful substantive change in representing and investing in marginalized communities,\”  Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO said.

UK broadcaster ITV published its own diversity report last week, originally designed as a progress report for the studio's promises made during the spike of the Black Lives Matter movement last summer. The studio is now casting diverse talent in 26% of all of the largest roles in its TV series and is featuring writers from underrepresented communities in 29% of writers room jobs. Keep the numbers moving up! 📈

Industry darling Josh Gad spoke with Variety about what viewers can expect in the upcoming BEAUTY AND THE BEAST prequel series currently in the works at Disney+. The project, centers around the early days of Gaston and LeFou's friendship. Addressing whether or not we would be receiving a coming-out story for LeFou - who was confirmed as a gay character in the 2017 live-action reboot - Gad mused, "You’re going to have to tune in when this show airs to see what we’re working up... I think that we have origin stories here that are unbelievably exciting because they’re unexpected. And I think ‘expect the unexpected’ is all I can really say." Stay tuned 🏳️‍🌈

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Watch, Read & Listen

Check out American Theatre Magazine's interview with Yale School of Drama's chair of acting Tamilla Woodward and NYU Tisch's chair of grad acting Carl Cofield as they discuss their unique approaches to helming two of the world's best-known acting institutions, and how they see their positions as an opportunity to shape the next generation of theatre.

A new musical theatre festival is launching next year in Milan, Italy, and the announcement video absolutely has me in my feels. Featuring an intro by Whoopi Goldberg, artists from across the world came together to perform Magic to Do, headlined by none other than Ben Vereen. Join us in this pool of emotions, I promise it's worth it 🎩

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Patti LuPone, Viola Davis & More Appear in New Documentary, ON BROADWAY

Lincoln Center Theater Announces Streaming Dates for The Wolves

July 13, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

I hope everyone has been staying cool here these past few sweaty, stormy summer weeks. The industry news cycle remained light this week after the Fourth of July but we're back to our regular email format. Very happy to be embracing some normalcy after a crazy past few weeks!

A quick reminder that we will be hosting the next round of our popular Seeking Representation 101 workshop with Actors Connection tomorrow afternoon at 3 PM EST. Summer is a great time to jump into an agent/manager campaign, and given the emergence of several new companies and switch-ups in personnel among other agencies, there's never been a better time to get your representation campaign started. Get yourself on track to land some awesome new rep this year with us!

Peace & Love ✌️

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

COVID: Road to Reopening

Cannes festival officials have turned to COVID-sniffing dogs to keep event-goers safe from any potential virus outbreaks. The dogs are said to be 94.3% accurate at spotting an individual with the disease, thanks to a unique odor that the virus is said to give off. Apparently officials around the world have been workshopping employing COVID dogs to process high volume events, as they can process up to 300 people within 30 minutes. I always knew dogs would save us in the end 🐶

Inaugural HCA Awards Announces Nominees

The Hollywood Critics Association announced its inaugural HCA TV Awards nominees last week, with Apple TV+' TED LASSO leading the field with eight nominations, followed by THE HANDMAIDS TALE with seven. Interestingly, the field is separated not just into comedies and dramas, but also broken up by broadcast, cable, and streaming offerings as well... potentially a sign of things to come? 👀 See the full list of nominees here!

Streaming vs Theatrical Battle Continues

Longtime filmmaker and European Film Academy president Agnieszka Holland advocated on behalf of the theatrical experience this past week at a Cannes panel, saying that while streaming services provide many unique distribution and financial opportunities that projects may not otherwise have, the industry must be careful to not allow festivals and academies to be erased in the process. "The platforms are great but they're not curated, they're curated only by the algorithms... We have to ask ourselves how much our audience, societies, countries, ourselves, need cinema which has this very strong identity. I'm sure that we cannot replace the experience of finding movies and TV on platforms with the strong experience of being together and watching in a dark room, united by common emotions."

But the power of streamers continues to be undeniable: Amazon Prime Video and IMDbTV announced a licensing agreement with Universal that will create a pay-one system starting with all of the studio's 2022 slate. The move follows months of similar moves from fellow streamers: Netflix signed a four-year deal with Sony Pictures in April, and NBCUniversal's streamer Peacock took UFEG's titles under its wing, which will now also be under Amazon control. And in a world where the most recent forecasts predict theatrical revenues not returning to 2019 heights until 2024, theater owners are scrambling to make sense of how to get butts back in seats and away from the allure of the living room. 🛋

There was a time in 2019 when many movie theaters felt good about their odds when stacked up against the ever-looming stream team - with so many movies coming out, giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime would surely need to rely on in-person viewing to cover all of their content, right? 2020 rewrote the book on pretty much every part of our industry, and while COVID's clash with the entertainment world is far from over, one thing has become clear: movie releases are changing, and it's up to all industry players - from studios to theaters - to make sure they're riding the wave rather than stuck in the sand. Netflix has begun toying with week-long theatrical releases before dropping new titles on their platform, in a kind of wait-and-see anticipation builder that may ultimately drive the divide between those who want a theatrical experience and those who are happy to watch at home. It's an interesting trend, to say the least, and assuredly not the last new-era cinema deal we're going to see in the months and years ahead. 🎬

Industry Intel

AMC Networks has been holding space for conversations surrounding outdated tropes and ideologies in older films through their CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS program, with the aim of reigniting conversation around the often stereotypical and problematic portrayal of certain groups from days gone by. "There are so many great movies, we don't want to cancel them, but we do think there is additional information we can present when we look at it through today's lens [to inspire] propelling conversation." AMC Network's Blake Calloway said of the company's response to what they believe has become an over-eagerness to cancel problematic films. CAN WE TALK, hosted by Jordan Carlos, sits down with writers and directors from today's cinema landscape to explore the causes and effects of these portrayals in our current film climate, and how they can be used as a yardstick for measuring where our representation needs to go in the years ahead.

Matt Damon made for some lively conversation at his recent Cannes panel, sharing that he turned down a role in the original AVATAR movie that included a 10% stake in the film in order to stay with the Jason Bourne franchise (considering AVATAR would later gross $2.8 billion globally, that one might be keeping him up at night). Damon also discussed his exit from directing Oscar-winner MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, adding that he felt writer Kenneth Lonergan would ultimately fit as the best choice to take on the project. Judging by those two films alone, Matt is free to give me a call the next time he has a project he needs to turn down...

Chicago Artists Speak Out

The past year has served as a reckoning for theaters across the country, as most institutions hold the mirror to themselves and come to terms with their own histories of bias, underrepresentation, and complacency originally outlined in the We See You, White American Theater. A particular hotbed of advocacy has become the Chicago theatre scene, where jobs at highly sought after institutions like Steppenwolf and Victory Gardens have come with stories of exploitation, harassment, and racism for years. "It feels like anybody who comes with ethics and morals, it just gets squashed," Chicago artist Aaryanna Gariss said. "You think you can fix the system from within, and you just fucking can't."

Many artists in the Chicago scene feel that their calls for change have been ignored by the bigger names in the community, with the onus often falling on "protecting the company and not protecting the employee." Take some time to read the accounts from the folks that spoke up in this piece, it offered a completely new perspective on how theatre companies need to be approaching the relationships with the artists they're hiring and hopefully sheds light on the work our industry still needs to do.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The inaugural class of GIant Leap Accelerator's 12-week development program has been set, with a focus on elevating and celebrating Asian/Pacific American stories. The 8 emerging writers will be paired with top industry mentors that will help revise their scripts and develop a pitch for the project, alongside masterclasses and panels with other industry guests. The program will culminate with a showcase to studio/network execs and management agencies looking to acquire new talent for future openings.

In the fallout of allegations surrounding the "overtly racist" storylines and lack of representation in the writers room for KIM'S CONVENIENCE, series star Simu Liu reflected on the difficult position the "overwhelmingly white" producers put the cast in once showrunner Ins Choi left the show. "It made me really sad [for] what could have been, and made me angry, in a lot of ways, that we weren't able to pull things together to figure out our differences," Liu said. "In the spirit of speaking out about these issues, I really wanted — more than to cancel anybody or call anybody out — I wanted to make sure that future productions learn from our shortcomings and mistakes."

The Marvel Universe continues to be abuzz following the revelation of Loki's fluid sexuality several weeks ago, and execs in the MCU are ready to keep prioritizing and expanding representation in their future projects. "We're not changing anything. We're just showing the world who these people are, who these characters are," Marvel's EVP of Film Victoria Alonso said. "There's a lot that we have coming up that I think will be representative of the world of today." Love to hear it! 🌈

French media company Publicis Groupe of France has launched a new initiative to prioritize investing in companies that develop content from and broadcast to historically underrepresented communities. Once & For All Coalition will bring together nearly 50 advertisers and media outlets, committed to creating "equitable investment" with minority-owned media companies and content creators. "True equity requires sustainability, and our goal with the Once & For All Coalition is to take a long-term approach," Publicis' Lisa Torres said. "[I]n order to drive true change we need all industry players working together."

The Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Virtual 5K is officially set to take place the weekend of August 14th and 15th, open to participants across the world who wish to get moving in support of BCEFA efforts to provide for those affected by HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 and other critical illnesses across the country. Registration is now open!

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has set aside a $1.5 million grant for a new partnership with five theater companies with the goal of supporting playwrights from underrepresented communities. The new initiative, Generation Now, will support the development of 16 new plays from Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian American and Pacific Islander writers, giving them the opportunity to reach multigenerational audiences with original stories and programming. "We are excited to collaborate with these incredible cohort theatres on Generation Now to reach across generations and geography, bringing multigenerational, diverse audiences together to appreciate the universal human experience and collectively shape an inclusive, shared future," Autry Museum of the American West artistic director DeLanna Studi said.

Iconic Costumes to Display in Times Square

WICKED, DEAR EVAN HANSEN, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL, JAMES BOND - these are just a few of the dozens of productions set to show off their wares at SHOWSTOPPER! SPECTACULAR COSTUMES FROM STAGE & SCREEN, setting up shop in the now-closed Modell's Sporting Goods on 42nd Street beginning August 5th. Spearheaded by the Costume Industry Coalition, the eight-week event is set to raise money for the group's Recovery Fund, which has advocated for the survival of custom costume-makers in New York since the onset of the pandemic. "We've been overwhelmed with the amount of support we have received since we launched the Costume Industry Coalition in June of last year," said founding member Brian Blythe. "While so many parts of the entertainment industry are announcing reopening plans, the majority of our members continue to feel the impact of being mostly dormant for more than a year."

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July 06, 2021

Happy July, UTD!

I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July celebration with friends and family! Are you feeling the Dog Days of Summer?? I know I certainly am. It's no coincidence that the industry tends to wind down for the month of July. In anticipation of the holiday, the news cycle was a bit sparse last week. While yes, the industry will slow down a little over the next month, this year is unlike others in many ways. The pandemic continues to affect schedules. More productions are forgoing the usual summer hiatus and are plowing through to make up for lost time.

I encourage you to use this industry lull to reflect on your marketing tools. Quiet time is a great time for reflection. Write down three small but doable actions that you can take right now. Here are some suggestions:

  • Get focused! Define your main area of interest for the next 6 months (Commercials, Film/TV, Theatre, etc).
  • Set an attainable goal for your area focus (getting representation, booking a co-star, number of auditions a month, etc.)
  • Review your marketing materials (resume, headshot, reels, cover letters), do they support your area of focus? Do they need to be revamped to align with your goals?
  • Do your research! Set aside time each week to do your homework.
    • Research specific agents who represent your area of interest and are seeking new talent. Add them to your targets on The The Up-To-Date Actor so you will be notified of upcoming networking events.
    • Target 10 TV Shows, filming in your area, that are currently casting or TBA.
    • Target 10 plays or musicals that you are a perfect fit for. Look at what Regional Theatres have an upcoming production - add those companies to your targets as well

Now is the time to create new, improved, habits and take bold specific action. You not only will feel a shift in your day-to-day energy but you will also see your career advance with a quicker pace.

Upcoming Free Workshop

Summer is also a great time to start a representation campaign as many agencies refresh their roster during the sleepy Summer months to be ready for a busy Fall season. If you are looking for new representation or want to build a better relationship with your current representation, register for our upcoming FREE workshop with Actors Connection.

This is a perfect opportunity to learn more about the Up-To-Date Actor and ask questions. Annie and I hope you can join us next week!

Look for a return to our in-depth news coverage next week. But for now, check out the list below of last week's news articles.

Enjoy the sunshine and summer fun! 🌞⛱

— Abigail Hardin
info@uptodateactor.com
Founder & Up-To-Date Actor Creator

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June 29, 2021

Hey UTD World!

How's everyone feeling these days? Hard to believe we're almost out of June, huh? The behind-the-scenes at UTD has been heating up more than ever these last few weeks keeping track of the industry's reopening, and while we're very excited for everything coming down the pipe in the months to come, sometimes life gets the best of us, and this past week was one of those weeks. We've compiled all the must-read articles into a few different lists; please take some time to comb through them and see what the status of shows and films are as we continue to navigate reopening.

We also have another Seeking Representation workshop coming up in just two weeks! We always receive great feedback from folks who attend this event and feel empowered to take their search for representation to the next level. Sign up today!

Peace & Love ✌️

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

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June 22, 2021

Happy Summer, UTD! 😎

With the solstice in the rearview and the dog days of summer officially here to stay, I hope everyone has been getting out and about and enjoying some of what our long-awaited-kind-of-COVID-reopening-summer has to offer. The industry has been blasting off in so many new and exciting ways, and we're just trying to keep up with the hype and waiting to see what's next!

We have two workshops coming up with our friends at Actors Connection, including one tomorrow night! Sign up now!

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

Festivals, Awards & Movie Theatres

The Tribeca Film Festival has provided an interesting litmus test on the status of film festivals in a post-COVID world, right down to the name. Pivoting as simply the Tribeca Festival this year, organizers have signaled a move to a more all-inclusive experience with talkbacks and guest panels, VR experiences, podcasts and more, though a general air of ambiguity seemed to encapsulate the festival's offerings, hinting at what may be on the horizon for more events to come in 2021.

Telluride Film Festival held its annual gathering in LA last week to get folks excited for its Labor Day event, generally considered (along with Toronto and Venice) to be the start to Oscar season and alluding to what movies may be the ones to watch in the months ahead. Much of festival season remains up in the air for execs across the country, with some studios unsure of the added value of in-person festivals in the digital age, but many remain hopeful that the evergreen allure of the movies will supplant any call to opt for at-home viewing instead 🤞

With summer festival season in full swing, are you already getting excited for the next year of award shows? Check out IndieWire's current list of the who what and when of award shows for 2021-2022 🏆 

It's no secret that movie theaters have had a tough past 16 months, and while the box office is slowly finding its momentum again, audience numbers are still struggling to find their way back to pre-pandemic levels. Sequels and prequels have been the name of the game in 2021, with top earners like CRUELLA, A QUIET PLACE: PART II, and F9 becoming the most sought after titles of the summer. Theaters are hedging their bets that viewers' loyalty to established franchise names will keep filling seats in the next few months. And as more and more viewing houses are finding themselves in dire straights, particularly on the West Coast, owners and investors are keeping hopes high for a robust summer at the movies 🍿

Theaters aren't the only places feeling the COVID reopening pinch. Submissions to the 2021 Primetime Emmy Awards were remarkably down across all categories: 133 drama submissions (down from 197 in 2020) and 68 comedy submissions (down from 111). Interestingly (though probably not too surprising), the TV movie category saw a significant increase, up to 41 from last year's 28. Because the Academy uses a sliding scale to determine how many nominees will make up each field, many believe the pools will shrink across the board this year to reflect the dearth in submissions.

Industry Intel

Tyler Perry isn't wasting any time in expanding his Atlanta empire with the purchase of an additional 130 acres of land, 37 acres of which sit adjacent to his current sprawling film & TV production hub. Perry is said to be slotting the new land for both production expansion, as well as a nightlife hub with restaurants, theaters, and retail shops. "Today is a good day," Perry said. "I'm grateful for the opportunity this gives Tyler Perry Studios to extend our footprint in Atlanta and create more opportunities for the people of Southwest Atlanta."

Are you tired of us talking about Oklahoma's tax incentives yet? Well, they're something to keep an eye on, because the next film you audition for may just be shooting there 🎥 The state's refreshed credit system offers productions up to a 38% rebate on spending in the state while filming - surpassing even Georgia's 30% upper bound. The latest high-profile project shot in the Sooner State is Martin Scorsese's KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON, set to release sometime in late 2021 or early 2022, the newest project in an encouraging increase in Indigenous stories being told in Hollywood.

A group of Hollywood A-listers are coming together to create a new film school in LA, set to open in the fall of 2022. Don Cheadle, Mindy Kaling, George Clooney, Kerry Washington, Eva Longoria, and more have set plans to open The Roybal School of Film and Television Production, which will focus on training and education for up-and-coming film students from underserved communities. "Our aim is to better reflect the diversity of our country," Clooney said. The program will start with offering classes to ninth and tenth grade students, and eventually expand to 11th & 12th grade over the next two years, with internship opportunities available for real-world experience in the industry.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association continues to muddy the waters of its already much-maligned public image after two members resigned last week, calling the organization "a toxic place for working journalists." The HFPA responded with a statement thanking those that have stuck with the group and are helping with its turnaround, calling it "a crucial time for [the] organization" and reaffirming its commitment "to collaborate with [its] members and outside groups to make this change a reality."

Even those at the top of the food chain had their good and bad days during COVID. Execs from HBO Max, NBCUniversal, OWN, Showtime, and more spoke about how they navigated taking meetings from home offices and organizing their professional and personal dealings over the last 15 months during an ATX panel last week, with many saying they relied heavily on mentors and mental health days to keep spirits high. "What's made this year so hard was everything was out of our control," one exec said, underscoring a general sentiment of many choosing to focus only on what was within their reach, and releasing the rest to fall where it may. A lesson for us all!

In the wake of Brexit, EU officials are trying to diversify the "disproportionate" amount of UK content being broadcast on TV and streaming services. Mega-series like Netflix's THE CROWN headline the nearly $700 million that the UK film and TV industry receives from European viewers each year, and British producers are remaining hopeful that number will remain high despite an upcoming revision of viewership quotes for each country.

Streaming Highs & Lows

New figures from Nielsen's monthly viewership measurement are indicating that viewership for linear offerings - cable and broadcast - are still outpacing numbers for streaming in homes around the country. Streaming now accounts for 26% of all viewership, while cable + broadcast sits at 64%. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was quick to egg on the ever-growing streaming wars, tweeting that "Stream team needs to up its game" and calling on WarnerMedia chief Jason Kilar that he wants to see HBO Max's numbers on the Nielsen boards along with Netflix. Game set.... match? ♟

Remember Quibi? Man, that feels like a lifetime ago. Back in the early days of quarantine when we were only supposed to be inside for a few weeks and no one had toilet paper... Weird times. With the days of Quibi behind us, some are still using its viewership as a metric for success. Deadline definitely was aggressive with this headline: "Roku Originals Draw More Viewing In 2 Weeks Than Quibi Did In Its Lifetime"

Disney+ is learning and listening after the debut of its new series LOKI, which played to millions of viewers on Wednesday, June 9th, and cemented its place as the streamer's most-watched premiere. As it goes in streaming land, all bets were off after that - the company has officially moved all of its Friday new episode drops to Wednesday, hedging its bets that viewers are really interested in a mid-week pick-me-up. Maybe it's a Loki brilliant idea after all... (Marvel puns are marvelous, sorry).

Save Our Stages Delay, COVID Reopening Continues

Despite its passage nearly half a year ago, the Save Our Stages act has yet to fully distribute its funds to the small businesses that are in dire need of the money to reopen and stay open as COVID restrictions continue to lift. Senators Amy Klobuchar and John Cornyn have sent an appeal letter to the Small Business Administration's keeper of the keys Isabella Guzman, asking for a detailed explanation of where exactly the funds are at and how soon they can expect to be distributed. "Further delays are unacceptable and would have irreversible consequences for these industries," the pair wrote in the letter last week.

One such venue in need of immediate relief is the LAByrinth Theater Company, a nearly 30-year off-Broadway mainstay that will play host to a star-studded virtual fundraiser tonight at 8 PM EST. Featuring dozens of performances from acts like Alan Cumming, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Chita Rivera and more, the company is hoping to surpass its $75,000 fundraising goal to cover the losses incurred from the pandemic. Check out the link and tune in!

The rest of the New York theatre scene is waking back up, and many have begun offering ticket sales and reservations once again for the months ahead. Check out this round-up of COVID refund policies for each Broadway house this year 🎟

Actors' Equity and the Broadway League have found common ground on COVID protocols for national tours, creating a reference guide to govern how producers will fill out their productions. All company members will be required to be fully vaccinated, and audience members will be required to wear masks and sit at least six feet from the stage and orchestra.

Are you an NYC theatre artist struggling to make your rent due to COVID? The Places Please Project has announced an initiative to provide rent relief to NYC-based theatre workers that have been out of work for over a year, with the goal of distributing $500,000 to qualified artists by April 2022. The group is still accepting donations and will start assessing applications in the next few months.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Nominations for the 2021 Dorian TV Awards have officially been announced, bringing together dozens of LGBTQ+ entertainment journalists from across the globe to vote on this year's television offerings. Helmed by GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, the Dorian Award-nominated were headlined by FX' POSE with six nods, which has been receiving increasing buzz from GLAAD and other LGBTQ+ organizations to be recognized in the upcoming Emmy season for its groundbreaking portrayal of trans characters on screen. For the first time since 2012, the Dorian Awards will present all gender-neutral categories for its performance categories, and bump up the nominee fields to 10 each.

Amazon Studios is continuing its VOICES series with an upcoming virtual show set to celebrate Pride Month. VOICES: PRIDE, in partnership with GLAAD and Pride Media, will offer online roundtable discussions with members of the LGBTQ+ community in the industry, as well as performances from Drag Race Stars Kandy Muse, Lala Ri, and Manila Luzon. "[W]e want to continue driving the conversation forward around the immediate steps Hollywood can take to improve representation and positively impact the media landscape," the studio's head of DEI Latasha Gillespie said.

Anthony Roth Costanzo has been named New York Philharmonic's artist-in-residence for the 2021-2022 season. Costanzo plans to explore identity through voice in his show AUTHENTIC SELVES, endeavoring to "explore what stories [his] voice can tell, and what truths it can reflect." Congrats Anthony!

A BLACK LADY SKETCH SHOW's Robin Thede didn't hold back in her indictment of Hollywood box-checking at an ATX Festival panel last week. "Don't tell me that there is no room for white men in this industry," Thede remarked, encapsulating much of the frustration that showrunners are encountering as more and more projects featuring stories from historically underserved communities are waiting on (overwhelmingly white) Tinseltown decision-makers to give them the green light. Thede continued:

We're saying our stories have the same amount of value and we're literally telling the industry that you have to begin to value our stories, even if they're not your own. And you have to get out of the way and let us make them. Let us tell those stories and let us make those stories so that the audience can begin to see themselves reflected in film and TV, and so that they can see a clear path if they do want to get in this industry.

And the theatre industry is no exception. The latest study of on-and-off-stage representation from the Asian American Performers Action Coalition found that 93.8% of Broadway directors in the 2018-2019 season were white, with Off-Broadway coming in at 78,7% white. Perhaps most startling: Of the five Broadway shows with BIPOC playwrights that season, all five retained a white director. To the surprise of no one, the industry still has a staggeringly long way to go in order to actually make good on the countless "We see you, we hear you" posts from last summer's social media blitz, promising true representation across the industry. Time to step up, Hollywood and Broadway!

The release of the IN THE HEIGHTS film has been met with its fair share of controversy for its surprising lack of Afro-Latino community members in its cast. Lin-Manuel Miranda has since issued an apology for omitting a completely inclusive cast - "In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short. I'm truly sorry" - though Broadway star Rita Morena took to the Colbert Show to defend Miranda, before issuing an apology herself for ignoring the calls for real representation in the film.

Lena Waithe debuted an exciting slate of short films sponsored by her Rising Voices initiative at the Tribeca Festival last week, showcasing 10 projects that were supported by a $1 million investment from a partnership with Indeed. "We could easily spend a million dollars on a TV ad, but we thought, instead of doing that, what if we took that million and invested it in BIPOC filmmakers to tell a story from their own perspective about what the meaning of a job was," Indeed CEO Chris Hyams said.

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June 15, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

We're halfway through June already? What? Time flies when you're reopening an industry I suppose 😎

Quick reminder of our upcoming workshops with Actors Connection later in June and July! And for anyone attending tonight's Actors Launchpad event, we can't wait to see you there!

Let's talk news!

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

Inside the Industry: Actors on Acting

With the onslaught of new sci-fi and fantasy projects popping up with almost monthly regularity, it's no secret that more is being asked of actors and their imaginations than ever before. THE MANDALORIAN's Giancarlo Esposito, no stranger to the stage or screen, took a methodical, academic approach to his work as a Moff Gideon, commenting that he allowed every part of his wardrobe and environment to inform him more and allow him to be "graceful, eloquent and ferocious, but physical as well. Those are kind of the steps [he] took to really feel like [he] existed in that world."

If you're a STAR WARS fan (like me), Variety gave us plenty to dive into with its latest installation of ACTORS ON ACTORS, sitting down with Ewan McGregor and Pedro Pascal to chat about their experiences playing opposite Yoda and Baby Yoda on screen in their separate turns in the SW universe. "I couldn’t believe I was acting with Yoda," McGregor said. "There’s so many people operating him, and the stage is lifted up so they’re underneath the floor and we were literally walking next to each other — and he’s alive." Are all those years of pretending I'm a Jedi going to pay off someday? Here's to hoping 🤞

McGregor's slate has heated up in a big way in the last year or two, and with the release of his new Netflix series HALSTON, the Scottish actor had the opportunity to open up about his sobriety and how it came to inform the work that he did as the eccentric fashion designer. "[W]hen I’m looking at characters who are addicts, I look at it through a different lens of understanding it more," he said of his more than 20 years of being sober. "An everyday part in my life is being sober. But at the same time, it’s quite an important part because it’s given me such joy and happiness and peace in a way I didn’t have before I was sober."

Have we all seen IN THE HEIGHTS yet? Are we all in love? As one of my favorite musicals of all time, I've been counting down the days for the film's eventual release, and I just can't believe how perfectly it turned out. As is the case with most Hollywood stories, the road to opening night was plagued with plenty of roadblocks, and Lin-Manuel Miranda is not shy about admitting it. "I still don’t understand how we went from being the Tony-winning show that everyone couldn’t wait to adapt to international telling everyone, 'We can’t make the movie at this number, you don’t have a star, and unless you get this international recording artist to basically lose money by doing this movie because they’re all on world tours, you can’t make this movie!'" Check out the full interview with Miranda, it's filled with plenty of predictable Hollywood red tape, but, like the resiliency of the beloved ITH characters, Miranda and Co found a way, and we're all so grateful that they did. 💯

Congrats to Katori Hall on being the recipient of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her work on THE HOT WING KING, originally premiering Off-Broadway in February 2020 before having its run at the Signature Theatre cut short from COVID. Hall is currently up for the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for TINA: THE TINA TURNER STORY.

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Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth

The Broadway League is set to commemorate Juneteenth with a special Times Square performance featuring performances from Ben Vereen, Lilias White, and a host of Black performers from current Broadway shows. BROADWAY CELEBRATES JUNETEENTH, sponsored by BCEFA, MAC Cosmetics, and the Times Square Alliance will begin at noon on Saturday between 43rd and 44th Streets in Times Square and is free to the public. "This will be the first year that Juneteenth will be an official holiday in New York State. We are proud to be honoring and celebrating this important day together as a community," Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin said. "We will be reflecting on the incredible contributions that the Black members of our community have made and continue to contribute to Broadway. As the industry prepares to reopen this fall, we welcome this opportunity to join together in looking forward to a better Broadway, one that comes back stronger, more diverse, more equitable, more inclusive, and more united."

Pride Month Round-Up

It's been so wonderful watching all of the various Pride events happening throughout the country this June, particularly among the entertainment industry as live events return and we're able to celebrate the history of the LGBTQIA+ community together again. LA Confidential Magazine held its fourth "Portraits of Pride" event last week in Los Angeles, honoring members of the community in the entertainment world and celebrating the ability to come together again after nearly two years.

Looking for some more Pride viewing? Check out these 10 LGBTQ Documentaries Streaming on Amazon Prime

Laverne Cox has long been the face of LGBTQIA+ activism in the media at large, and has most recently been taking on the slew of anti-trans legislation passing through the halls of Congress, dealing with issues ranging from trans girls in sports to gender-affirming health care. "What they’re trying to do is to dehumanize these children, which is so heartbreaking," Cox said in a recent interview. While Hollywood continues to check itself in calling for progress in authentic LGBTQIA+ storytelling, Cox says she is no stranger to watching the thinly-veiled bureaucracy at work. "[C]hecking all these boxes to maintain the same oppressive systems that are there in place doesn't necessarily change the material conditions of working class trans people. We are interested in real liberation."

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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

A new study from the USC Annenberg Institute found that Muslim characters have only accounted for 1.1% of roles in the top 100 grossing movies from 2017-2019, an abysmal figure on its own, let alone when considering that nearly one in four of the world population is Muslim. The study went on to postulate that the dearth of Muslim characters and their continued portrayals as "foreigners and threatening outsiders" may be in part to blame for the rise in hate crimes against the community. "While the causes of such violence are complex, one arena that may exacerbate biased views of the Muslim community is the mass media."

As the fight for authentic representation for women both on-screen and behind the camera continues, a promising group of shows and movies from the past year have been a beacon of hope in the turning tide of female-led content. "They’re taking ownership of themselves and their voices and where they stand in who they are," DICKINSON's Hailee Steinfeld said. "I really do feel a part of that cultural shift and I feel inspired by it." Perhaps most ironically, period piece shows like DICKINSON, along with Netflix' BRIDGERTON and THE CROWN, are taking a stand against the male-dominated historical lens and showing the power of the female protagonist that has, up until this point, been either woefully minimized or discarded altogether.

Cynthia Erivo's incredible performance as the iconic Aretha Franklin for Nat Geo's GENIUS: ARETHA has been a headliner in this new wave of storytelling, showcasing female-led performances and behind-the-camera leadership. "When women’s stories are told from a male point of view, they tend to tell such weird slices of the story," Roxane Gay wrote of the importance of revisiting stories like Franklin's through a different lens. And with the industry continuing to make good on its promise of gender parity, anyway that it can - Chris Rock recently told Variety that he has fired people from his sets that don't listen to women - the march toward true equality will hopefully only continue to speed up.

Coming Together, a new organization spearheaded by The Dramatists Guild and American Theatre Wing, has launched an initiative to support and develop long-term studies focused on disability, gender, and race in the theatre community, with plans to disseminate the information industry-wide. The database will feature information sourced from creators from across a wide range of disciplines, in an effort to create lasting change in theaters' equity and inclusion practices.

Another newly-minted initiative in the theatre community is set to provide financial assistance and professional development specifically to theaters of color, specifically Black and Indigenous organizations. THRIVE!, created by Theatre Communications Group, will seek to remove barriers to creation for historically underfunded arts groups through the support of a $1.635 million gift from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. "We believe that when these barriers are removed, and BIPOC have equitable access to fully realize their potential, our field will truly thrive." says TCG exec Teresa Eyring.

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Festival Watch

With many of the big name festivals pushing ahead with their plans to run at least part of this year's events in person, organizers are banking on a lingering love of in-person cinema to put them back on the map to where they were pre-COVID. Distributors and sales agents are eager to get back to real-time feedback of movies searching for a full green light to worldwide distribution, though plenty of the top names - Cannes, Tribeca - will be allowing virtual viewings to keep audience numbers high. People are willing and enthusiastic to return to movie theaters," one media exec said. "It’s all really good for Tribeca, in terms of buyers’ mental state."

Tribeca in particular is feeling the weighty excitement of entertaining audiences post-COVID. The festival originally premiered just a few months after 9/11 and sought to bring people together in remembrance of the events earlier in the year, while restoring some semblance of normalcy both to the film community and to the outside perception of New York at large. "It's a very similar situation," festival co-founder Robert De Niro said. "It's part of keeping the tradition going."

Out on the West Coast (where I'm currently coming to you from ☀️), the Santa Barbara Film Festival has announced its dates for next year's event, which will run in a completely live and in-person format from March 2-12, 2022. "SBIFF is chomping at the bit to welcome everyone back to Santa Barbara," festival director Roger Durling remarked. Bring it all back baby! 🎬

Reopen, Sesame 🚪

Come one, come all, doors to theaters and live event venues across the country are reopening, and by the looks of it, everyone is ready to take part. Take a look at how several theaters around the country are navigating welcoming patrons back after nearly a year and a half of closing their doors:

Broadway is on its way back, that can't be denied. Still haven't heard the status of your favorite show? BroadwayWorld has the inside scoop 👀

Carnegie Hall has also announced its upcoming 2021-2022 season, featuring a star-studded line-up of Broadway favorites like Norm Lewis, Laura Benati, and Jessica Vosk.

States are eager to welcome back film crews across the country, and nowhere has been more robust about their tax incentives than California and Oklahoma (yes, Oklahoma). Production companies looking to keep costs low and safety protocols high are doing their due diligence to stick the landing in an area that will best serve their production needs, and this has translated to a rush among states to compete for the upcoming boom in movies and TV shows. Start our engines 🚗

Like theatre? And football? How about theatre being broadcast like football? Pretty crazy, right.... except if it's not. Give this a read - as a die-hard Yankees and Penn State fan that has spent many hours of my life yelling at the TV during a game, what if we added in a few musical numbers to our weekday evening viewing schedule? Food for thought 🍿

TV Trends

More series. More streamers. More stories being told than ever before It's a blessing for sure, but one that comes with an entirely new set of challenges and considerations. Sitcom veterans Chuck Lorre and Bill Lawrence are no strangers to waxing and waning industry trends; their combined 50+ years of experience have helped see them through even the toughest months of the pandemic, and are more excited than ever for people to see where the upcoming seasons of shows like TED LASSO are headed, and how the industry at large as responded to calls for top-down change across the board. "It's getting out of the way, creating some room for other voices to speak" Lorre said."It's exciting to see what happens because stuff happens you could not anticipate."

And it's a change that we will hopefully continue to see across all networks. "I think basic stories are universal," Netflix UPSHAWS showrunner Regina Hicks said. "At the end of the day, the approach is different, but some stories resonate across the board." Topics like therapy are receiving real consideration and discussion from shows like the IN TREATMENT reboot, in the hopes of normalizing and highlighting the benefits of seeking professional help, as opposed to a few quick scenes for an easy laugh. "What we do as writers and storytellers is provide cultural mirrors, so we wanted society to see themselves being able to go to therapy and be comfortable with that," IT exec producer Yvette Lee Bowser said.

Comedies are also honing in on other traditionally taboo or "serious" topics: KENAN, UNITED STATES OF AL, and MRS MAYOR all touch on single dads navigating family life in a way that are equal turns authentic and approachable. "I personally like shows, even in comedies, that still feel like they’re about something," KENAN co-creator Jackie Clarke said, sharing that she brought some of her own real-life experience of being raised by a widowed father to the writers' room. I'm so excited to continue watching shows that deal with the stone-yet-unturned themes; let the screen mirror life, we all have a story to tell 📖

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June 8, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

We hope everyone has been enjoying the unofficial start to summer the last few days ☀️ NYC has been in full mid-July form this weekend and I'm very much here for it. Watching the life and vibrance of the city returning and people out (safely) enjoying themselves again has been such a treat to watch. I hope you're able to soak up some summer sun this week wherever you are!

Reminder for all of our Actors Launchpad friends: We will be doing our next session with their team next Tuesday, 6/15 on ways to make your casting director submissions stand out! Check out our upcoming events, sign up via each link, and add them to your calendar.

Let's talk news!

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

Festival Circuit Reloading

Cannes Film Festival still can't seem to get it right when it comes to true representation from female directors. This year's Competition section will only feature four female-led films... not exactly keeping hopes high for the festival's 2018 adoption of the industry 5050x2020 gender parity pledge that would eventually even out the still-overwhelming male-dominated event. Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux seemed hopeful that the numbers in the festival's Un Certain Regard section, which gives a platform to more up-and-coming creators, give more of an indication of where the event is headed, as the field is split evenly between men and women over 16 films.

The Tribeca Film Festival is making this year's festival much more accessible to viewers in the US with the launch of Tribeca at Home, which will allow audiences access to over 100 films and shorts for only $20 per feature, or an all-access pass for $175. Certain groups of films are only available at certain time slots through the festival window, which runs from tomorrow through June 23rd. We definitely recommend checking out some of these new titles and see where the film industry is headed! 🎬

Industry Intel

Coming out of our long COVID hibernation, it's becoming clear that viewers are keeping their expectations high for on-screen diversity in the months and years ahead. A new study from UTA found that 1 in 3 viewers expect content to address social and cultural issues, and 1 in 4 said it's become more important that content educates. Streaming companies can also expect an expanded rivalry landscape in a post-COVID world, with 1 in 3 viewers saying they plan to use/subscribe to more platforms in the coming year.

Staying mentally healthy as an actor when taking on emotionally taxing roles has long been a continued conversation among acting school, coaches, and filmmakers alike. Bringing authentic vulnerability to a project "does have a cost — it doesn’t come for free" Sarah Paulson said of her work on Netflix' RATCHED. "[A]nd some people, I think, are far better at protecting themselves than others." As the focus on mental health continues to develop and expand in the industry, actors like THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD's Thuso Mbedu are committing themselves to being open and honest about how to handle the taxation of mentally demanding roles: "I have since learned to acknowledge any unwelcome thoughts and feelings, address them and let them move on."

Longtime LA casting director Jeffrey Drew is sharing his journey of living with HIV/AIDS in a new documentary short aimed at chronicling his newest bout of an experimental treatment for the illness. RIGHT TO TRY follows Drew's story of living through the height of the epidemic in the 80s and 90s, and his hopes for this latest treatment that, to this point, has kept his viral load count at undetectable and untransmittable levels. "There are people who are still getting infected and sick and dying,' Drew said. "I would love to see a generation that doesn’t have to think or worry about this anymore."

Quentin Tarantino has never been one to mince words, and his most recent podcast interview about the waning of his directing career is no exception. Tarantino has long acknowledged that he has always planned to make a certain number of movies, and given the recent success of ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, the eccentric filmmaker is debating when and how to fold up the director's chair. "Most directors have horrible last movies," he mused on the Pure Cinema Podcast, also noting that he's felt that "this is the time for the third act [of his life] to just lean a little bit more into the literary," hinting at a future turn to a writing-focused career.

Paramount Plus has unveiled a second pricing tier of its new service, bringing it more in line with other ad-supporting streaming offerings at $4.99/month. The Paramount Plus Essential Bundle will include live sporting events, but will not offer access to local CBS stations, which will be available exclusively on the company's premium $9.99/month plan.

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Biden Eyeing NEA Increase, Tax Incentives Booming

The National Endowment for the Arts could see a significant funding boost from Congress in the 2022 fiscal year budget, thanks to the support of President Biden. Under his proposal, the NEA could see a 20% increase in funding, bringing the organization's annual budget to just over $200 million, accounting for the largest increase in NEA history. Actors' Equity was quick to praise the President's financial support of the arts, with AEA president Kate Shindle saying that  "recognizing that the arts have not only immeasurable cultural value to the lives of Americans, but a huge financial impact" on the US economy is an incredibly welcomed step forward from the agency's proposed elimination during the previous administration.

Tourism is getting a boost in New York State, with Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing a $40 million initiative that will invest in bringing folks from around the world back to the Empire state, with the first phase specifically targeting tourism in NYC before branching out to the rest of the state in the months ahead. "We want the world to know that New York is back and better than ever," Cuomo said.

Returning to productions means an increase in film permits, and more and more municipalities across the world are putting their hats in the ring to bring projects to their areas with tax incentive programs. California and Oklahoma have steadily been adding to their incentive and rebate programs, with Oklahoma wishing to capitalize on the success of Oscar-nominated MINARI and tee up the next box office success sooner than later. And other parts of the world are following suit. Destination locations like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are expecting to see a record boom in filming over the next year, which officials are hoping will offset the hit from the dip in tourism numbers during COVID. "We have been thoroughly impressed with the progress and skills we have seen so far and we only see opportunities for the local community growing as we shoot more titles," MSR Media's Philippe Martinez said of the company's time spent training and filming in Nevis and St. Kitts.

Regional Theaters Reopening

In the early days of exploring a safe reopening situation for theaters in the US this spring, Tuacahn Center for the Arts was already hot on the trail of Equity's fluid guidelines, creating a 40-page document that served as a bedrock for returning performers to the stage and viewers to the audience. Their intrepid team is now ready to welcome the theater community back to the stage, all with safety still in mind and "leaving no stone unturned!"

The MUNY in St. Louis announced it will officially be open at full capacity for their summer 2021 season, taking advantage of its nearly 11,000 outdoor seating venue. The season opens on July 26th with SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE and runs through September 5th.

The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's return to the stage will feature appearances from Telly Leung, Betty Buckley, and more, in a far-reaching hybrid forray that will celebrate past and present O'Neill trainees. "I'm grateful to our visionary artistic directors and hardworking staff, and encourage all those looking for the most inspiring new talents in American theater to join us this summer - online or on-campus," executive director Tiffani Gavin said.

Andrew Lloyd Webber has had about enough of closed theaters in the UK, and is making it known that he may pursue legal action against the British government if they are not allowed to reopen at full capacity starting after June 21st.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The Black Theatre Coalition is now accepting applications for a new fellowship program that aims to end racial inequality across 20 offstage industry groups. Each fellow will receive a $50,000 salary over the course of the 12-month program. Applications are being accepted through July 16. Two fellows will be selected for fellowships in each of these categories: writing, composition, directing, choreography, set design, lighting design, costume design, sound design, video design, wig and hair design, stage management, theatre management, musical direction, casting, marketing and advertising, public relations, digital media, and talent representation. Six fellows each will be selected for fellowships in producing and general management, with the latter program lasting 24-months.

Heads of some of the biggest studios in Hollywood are continuing to make good on their 2020 promises to make diversity and representation among their ranks, not just a lofty goal sponsored by statements and lip service, but backed by true action and change. Execs of WarnerMedia's FX wing sat down with UCLA this week to discuss the company's previously "woeful" history of hiring female creatives and those from other underrepresented communities. "I want to see this industry stop paying for ‘diverse’ staff writers because they’re ‘othering’ them when they do that," WarnerMedia senior VP of equity and inclusion Karen Horne said. "The talent is out there (but) what’s not out there is an abundance of opportunity."

And it's becoming more and more clear just how far-reaching the effects of DEI initiatives can be, both for the strength of a network behind the scenes as well as how it affects the content they offer. FX's POSE, which sheds light on the stories of the LGBTQIA+ community of color as it navigated the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 90's NYC, has garnered consistent praise for its fresh perspective on an often-ignored narrative. "[W]e’ve taken the lens — which is always firmly planted on white people, quite frankly — and we just shifted it," POSE showrunner Steven Canals said. "We shifted the lens about 15-degrees and said, 'Hey, there was a whole other group of people who were being deeply impacted by this epidemic in this country because of our government and their lack of a response.'"

For anyone who has not yet seen VENENO on HBO Max, it's absolutely a must-watch. Following the story of Cristina Ortiz Rodríguez, the meteoric trans performer and on-air firecracker that rose to fame in 90's Spain, VENENO offers an incredibly intense, visceral, and beautiful look at a trans perspective, unlike anything I've seen before. And audiences around the world have taken notice, with the series landing a spot on Variety's 15 Best International Series of 2020 list and holding a 100% critics' score on Rotten Tomatoes. The show's success has not only opened doors for networks to acknowledge the power of LGBTQIA+ storytelling, but also revitalized previously held beliefs on Spanish-speaking viewership. "[T]he long-held belief that Latino and Spanish language series and TV are only for the Hispanic community has shattered," VENENO showrunner Javier Calvo noted. "We’ve opened up the market, which is only getting larger and more potent, and we are creating great content that the entire world is consuming."

Filmmakers in underrepresented communities are getting a boost from two major industry players this week: Ava DuVernay's newly-minted Array has announced a partnership with Google that will provide a new $500,000 film grant to "up-and-coming creatives from historically underrepresented communities." A new partnership between a handful of media companies and the American Black Film Festival will also provide a new space for premium scripted TV series from Black and brown creatives to develop their works and get them in front of top studios. "We are taking a 360 approach to platform the Black and Brown creators who will produce the next wave of shows audiences truly crave," POV Entertainment president Layne Eskridge said.

Male characters are having a renaissance of sorts in 2021, as many showrunners endeavor to turn the tide of the traditionally white, strong, silent-type that has dominated screens since the beginning days of film and TV. Regé-Jean Page spoke about his approach to BRIDGERTON's Duke of Hastings, a character he felt embodied the new wave of dissecting male characters: "How do you become comfortable enough that you can feel stronger by opening up to another human being, rather than the instinct, which is, the more closed off you are, the stronger you are because you’re not vulnerable?" It's a sentiment mirrored by Kenan Thompson in his new self-titled NBC show: "We’re trying to relieve that overall misconception that talking about or embracing your emotions might make you weak or something like that." For all that is good and holy, please just talk about your feelings, guys. The change starts with us!

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The Name's Bond

With Amazon's mammoth acquisition of MGM in the books, the legacy studio's archive of films has now fallen into the hands of CEO Jeff Besos, who has already made his presence known at various Amazon studio production meetings and articulated that he wants his "own GAME OF THRONES" to compete with fellow streaming juggernauts. Eyes in the sky now fall on the newest home of the James Bond franchise, which has come under increased scrutiny in recent years for being laden with tired, misogynistic tropes. A spectre in his own right, Besos, who could probably take his own turn as a new-age Bond villain, has stayed relatively silent on his intentions for Bond as of now; given his mega-billionaire status, however, I would think now is no time to die for the franchise. (Extra credit for naming all of the references 👀)

Apparently, we could have been viewing an entirely different take on Bond villainy during the Pierce Brosnan era, had it not been for a few too many drinks before an early audition (who among us...). Mark Strong recently shared that he went out to celebrate his upcoming test with none other than Daniel Craig sometime during the 90's, which led to one drink too many and a botched audition the next day. A few too many martinis shaken, not stirred perhaps 🍸

New MCU Theme Park Unveiled

Marvel lovers, rejoice! Disneyland Resort has officially launched its new Avengers Campus at California Adventure Park, and fans of the franchise are invited to scatter the part looking for the "million Easter eggs" said to be hidden throughout the attraction. "The story is about the guests… and the interactions these heroes have with the guests," exec creative director of Disney Imagineering Brent Strong said. Parkgoers will be able to partake in any number of Marvel-themed adventures, from a Doctor Strange magic show to exploring the world of Wakanda, along with live acrobatic performances from Spiderman and more. Oh, and there's beer too. Know your audience, Disney 🍻

Projects in Development

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Quick Bites

THELMA AND LOUISE is turning 30, and fans could take part in a one-night-only drive-in screening at LA's Drive-In at The Greek on June 18th featuring a Q&A with film stars Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon. "We’re thrilled to celebrate its lasting legacy with a special screening event, and look forward to honoring Geena and Susan, whose groundbreaking characters paved the way for female empowerment stories in Hollywood," MGM Film Group president Pamela Abdy said.

The Shubert Organization has been cited with four OSHA safety violations in connection with the death of Peter Wright at the Winter Garden Theater last November, after an accidental falling death during a routine maintenance survey of the building. Wright is remembered by his peers for his "dry wit, an unstoppable work ethic, and a trademarked grin."

Shakespeare in the Park's return to the Delacorte Theater is rounding out its all-Black cast of MERRY WIVES, which will include THIS IS US' Susan Kelechi Watson, BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA's Shola Adewusi and WATCHMEN's Jacob Ming-Trent. Performances will run from July 6th through September 18th.

June 1, 2021

Happy June, UTD!

It's hard to believe we're finally into the summer months after what has felt like an incredibly long slog through winter and spring. With the industry rising back to its pre-pandemic levels and beyond, I'm remaining hopeful that this wellspring of projects returning and new works is just the first whisperings of the avalanche that will usher in a new era of artistry in the US.

Happy Pride Month to everyone as well! We're so excited to welcome back in-person Pride events to NYC and across the country 🏳️‍🌈 Here's a round-up of events happening in cities across the country.

For any Actors Launchpad members: Annie will be holding a seminar with the ALP team on The Art of Effective Casting Director submissions in two weeks - June 15th at 6 PM. Sign up here!

With the long weekend from Memorial Day these last few days, we decided to take a break from the typical email format and instead provide some round-up reading and viewing this week. Lots of great news to cover, so grab a coffee and cozy up! We'll be back with our full coverage next week.

Peace & Love ✌️

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

Currently Casting

Below are projects, currently casting, that we added last week. View info on the Up-To-Date Actor.


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Theatre

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Projects in Development

Below are projects that we added last week, currently in development. Add these to your targets (⭐️) to be notified as soon as casting has been announced. Add keywords to receive specific project notifications


Film

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May 25, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

What an exciting week it's been across the industry and in UTD land. Lots of regional theatres announcing auditions for their upcoming seasons, Broadway shows revealing return dates, and... a new baby!

👶 Abi and her husband Josh welcomed their newest addition, baby Jacob, to the UTD Family on Wednesday morning. Congrats to Abi, Josh, and family, on an exciting new chapter! 🎊

Plenty of buzz across the entertainment landscape this week as COVID vaccination rates continue to rise and the industry rebounds at an exciting pace. Let's get to it!

Peace & Love ✌️

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The people have spoken, and the results are clear: authentic representation is an absolute must for any on-screen project moving forward, according to the latest data from a joint study between Starz and UCLA's Center for Scholars & Storytellers. "Give The People What They Want: US Audiences and Their Appetite for Multicultural Media Content," found that 60.4% of respondents 18 to 54 are the top two factors compelling them to watch new content, with 49.1% saying they prioritize having female creative teams as well. Diversity now, please!

A new virtual event is set to kick off TV programming during Pride Month by connecting viewers with some of their favorite queer content and creators. OutFronts, hosted by Outfest June 4-8th, will feature free panel interviews and discussions from shows like RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE, IT'S A SIN and THE L WORD: GENERATION Q. "Remember when it wasn’t too long ago that the only place to go for cutting-edge queer stories and content would be in cinema and independent films," Damien S. Navarro, executive director of Outfest said. "[W]e recognized that fans should have the opportunity to come together and celebrate these stories as well as our filmmakers, alumni, and industry partners."

Even with Hollywood riding the coattails of the industry's push for diversity over the last few years, it's no secret that there is still a long road ahead and much work to be done. Salma Hayek recently shared that she was passed over for two separate comedies in the last few years solely because of being a Mexican actress, saying that the directors told her that while she was the best audition for each part, "they knew the studios wouldn’t have gone for a Mexican as the lead." Hayek still added that she believed her recognition from the directors that it was a heavily biased system and that she should have landed the parts made her hopeful that "maybe the next generation or the next girl that comes in was going to get a better shot because of it."

Sounds like there's more than a few individuals working in Hollywood that still need a wake-up call for their ridiculous behavior in this day and age. Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins, in his latest project THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, also filmed a 52-minute side-car during the production process meant to shine light on developing a movie from a Black filmmaker's point of view. THE GAZE functions as a response to the oft-studied "white gaze," particularly in media, through which Jenkins sought to eliminate the recurring line of questions that he receives from journalists when discussing his films.

Broadway Advocacy Coalition has continued its busy year with the creation of Reimagining Equitable Productions, which will seek to address concerns surrounding equity and safety brought about during the past year of reflection and investigation into Broadway working conditions. "REP is a process that recognizes that change happens in little moments, in developing trusting relationships, and in acknowledging that making lasting change is as necessary as it is challenging," REP creator Leia Squillace said. After their successful partnership with Columbia Law School, BAC plans to use REP as an intervention tool for productions - starting with COMPANY and TINA: THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL - to analyze imbalances of power within the companies and create equity-driven solutions for their members.

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Industry Intel

The Cannes Film Festival has announced the protocols for their upcoming in-person event this July, outlining their mandatory mask guidelines, reorganizing lines for viewings, and a 24/7 medical station for attendees. While travel still remains strict within the European Union, festival organizers hope to entice enough participants for the film festival into dealing with the high levels of French COVID protocols that remain in place for foreigners entering the country.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is slowly but surely trying to make good on its promise of a more transparent and inclusive operating strategy this year with the release of an updated Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct, detailing the organization's "commitment to diversity and inclusion." While it seems that the HFPA may be headed for the door any way you slice it, time will tell if their updated list of policies - said to be mandatory for all of its members effective immediately - will make good on their founding motto: "Unity Without Discrimination of Religion or Race."

Move over PGA, there's a new kid in Hollywood: The Producers Union officially launched their site last Thursday, codifying its membership of over 300 indie film producers looking to unionize and establish a new era of protection for themselves during productions. "After decades of working without basic protections, low and/or inconsistent wages, no employer healthcare contributions, and an industry insistence that they should work for free to demonstrate their commitment, film producers are taking a stand," the group's creators wrote in a statement. The Producers Union will differ from the Producers Guild of America in that the PGA is a trade group, whereas the Union will stand for its members in collective bargaining agreements and actively advocate for better conditions on projects.

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There Has Been A Reopening

The newest iteration of New York's capacity restrictions and mask guidelines has shifted the focus back to the Broadway League's September reopening timeline, which a League rep recently confirmed remains to be the case pending any further developments in their own health and safety protocols. The theater community did receive promising signs of life this week from the Small Business Administration, which confirmed that the first round of funds from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program will begin distribution in the next few days. "I can’t wait to hear the ovation that goes up when that first curtain rises on each one of those shows," Brian Stokes Mitchell, chair of the Actors Fund, said at an event in Times Square last week. "Plan for a long evening, everybody, if you’re going to be in the theatre as well, because I think it’s going to be long and spectacular and full of gratitude and joy and exhalation."

Shuttered or not, Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine is ready to take audience safety and immersive experience to a whole new level with the unveiling of a 25,700 square foot outdoor performance venue that will host the theater's 2021 lineup: SPAMALOT, ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE, MYSTIC PIZZA and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. "It's a privilege to be able to bring live theatre back to our local economy, which was hit hard by COVID shutdowns," AD Bradford Kenney said. "We've implemented a comprehensive health and safety policy so that we can employ union actors, designers, musicians, creative teams, and production crews ahead of Broadway's re-opening this Fall."

Movie Theaters Are Ready for Butts in Seats

I think it's safe to say that just about everyone is excited for movie theaters to reopen and the popcorn and soda to start flowing again (me, me, pick me 🍿), and perhaps no one is more excited than the theaters themselves. California's The Big Screen is Back event, which brought together dozens of media and press members for a formal Welcome Back ceremony to moviegoing in the state, proved to be a towering, star-studded event, teasing some of the summer's biggest upcoming flicks like IN THE HEIGHTS, CRUELLA, JUNGLE CRUISE and A QUIET PLACE PART II. Theaters old and new are determined to reopen as quickly and safely as possible, just in time for the typically busy summer slate of blockbusters ahead.

"The pandemic has turned business models upside down," chairman of the National Association of Theatre Owners Ronaldo Rodriguez said. "The return of moviegoing is critical for our studio partners." Lauded director JJ Abrams likened moviegoing to the feeling of a parent ushering a child around for a few hours and noted that the years ahead for a post-pandemic world may just rival those of the Roaring 20s: "There will be a hunger to live again." Oscar-nominated producer Jason Blum probably put our collective love of movie-going best: "[W]hen the lights go down. And that magic happens up there, more than 50 feet tall, with 57 Dolby Atmos speakers plunging me into an ocean of sound ….. there is nothing else like it."

As rose-colored as our movie theater glasses may become in the months ahead, the question still remains: Just how comfortable are people with stepping back into viewing houses across the globe, and what will they be seeing when they get there? With New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announcing that the Tribeca Film Festival would be returning with a "100% vaccinated, full capacity & no masks" closing night ceremony at Radio City Music Hall, critics were quick to question the safety of such an abrupt end to COVID public health protocols in one of the world's largest cities. In terms of attracting general audience members to the theaters, will the on-screen content live up to the hype of handling steep prices of admission in a room full of strangers? Time will tell, dear reader 🎥

Navigating Upfronts and Content Schedule for 2021-2022

We are right in the thick of Upfront season, and we want to make sure that everyone is getting the most useful information from all the news below. While a lot of it may seem a bit stagnant and not necessarily something that can apply directly to actors' day to day lives, it's always important to understand the inner workings of how the business operates and checking out the transition of what was once a reliably cyclical schedule into a continuous stream of content acquisitions and greenlights (as well as cancellations). Upfront season will most likely always exist in some form or another, but particularly because of COVID and everything that the industry has been through in the past 15 months, it's a safe bet to say that we are going to continue seeing a shift in the traditional upfront, as has been the case this year with most companies choosing to go virtual and meet the challenges of the streaming giants head-on.

Along with UpFront season comes the birdseye view of the major networks upcoming schedule through fall of 2021, meaning there are a TON of opportunities to start tracking the projects that you feel you will be most right for in your market in the coming year. Regardless of where you're based, many established shows are receiving renewals, meaning you have a few summer months to brush up on the worlds of those shows, meet the casting folks responsible for creating those worlds, and position yourself for success once they begin casting again in the fall. Don't forget to target them on the Up-To-Date Actor to stay informed on any changes or upcoming networking events for casting personnel!

I thought it might be best to organize the news based on each network, which will continue into the next section as well. Please take some time to read how each organization is handling its approach to the shows you like, as every network seems to have a slightly different take on upfronts this year. And let me know if you found this helpful, I'd love to hear from people!

ViacomCBS: NCIS, FBI, CSI, THE EQUALIZER, BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA:

WarnerMedia + Discovery:

HBO also announced that they will begin offering an ad-supported tier of their HBO Max platform for $9.99/month, starting the first week of June. The announcement was accompanied by the impending launch of a new segment of Warner-owned TNT and TBS, Front Row, that will feature shows originally meant for HBO Max, including LOVE LIFE, TITANS and the first season of THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT.

NBCUniversal: LAW & ORDER, FRESH PRINCE Reboot, CHUCKY, Talk/Game Shows & The Olympics:

ABC: THE GOLDBERGS, BIG SKY, BLACK-ISH, WONDER YEARS Reboot:

And just to keep things light, Disney kept up its tradition of roasting ABC (and itself, by extension) via a remote hosting session from Jimmy Kimmel, bringing a bit of levity to what can otherwise be a slog of corporate jargon in May: "Give us your money or we’ll kill Baby Yoda."

ATX (Paramount/AMC) Television Event: KEVIN CAN F*** HIMSELF, THE GOOD FIGHT, CENTRAL PARK, Apple TV+ Titles

Fox: 9-1-1 New Series', THE BIG LEAP, THE RESIDENT, ALTER EGO

Merry Christmas (In June), You Ole' Building and Loan!

I think we deserve to end the email on a great big positive note, don't you? After what seems like an eternity of waiting, The Drama Book Shop in NYC officially has a reopening date 📚 The latest iteration of the New York staple will open at 9 AM on Thursday, June 10th, at its new location at 266 West 39th Street. “For me, The Drama Book Shop has always been the heart and soul of the New York City theatre community,” last-minute DBS savior Lin-Manuel Miranda said. "I sat and read plays there in high school. I discovered incredible artists and new works through staff recommendations. I wrote so many songs from In The Heights in the basement there. I’m excited for the next generation of storytellers and theatre lovers to come in, explore, and be inspired." You can book priority entrance times through the book shop's website to ensure you'll be able to get in on opening day and beyond. Welcome back to the neighborhood, Drama Book Shop!

May 18, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

I hope everyone has been loving this amazing stretch of weather we've been having here across the states; it's taken everything in me to not spend m