Weekly Insight

Index

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."

More Articles:

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!

More Articles:

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

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

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.

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


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.

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.

More Articles:

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.

More Articles:

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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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

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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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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 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!

More Articles:

Currently Casting

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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.

More Articles:

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.

More Articles:

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

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.

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 Currently 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.


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.

Theatre

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

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.

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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!

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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

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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

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

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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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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.

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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

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

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.

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.

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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

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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!"

More Articles:

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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Currently Casting

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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

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.

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 😭

More Articles:

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 🤞

More Articles:

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.

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

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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."

More Articles:

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? 🥰

More Articles:

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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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! 📺

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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.

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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!

Currently Casting

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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."

Currently Casting

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


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Projects in Development

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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

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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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

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.

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.

More Articles:

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 🍻

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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

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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 most of my days in a bathing suit on my roof acting like its the middle of July and getting my tan on... one thing at a time I suppose. Been a long winter and I'm ready for some real summer sun 😎

The industry continues to boom this week, particularly in the theatre world where the continued decrease in COVID capacity and mask guidelines is allowing for more theaters to eye reopening productions in the months ahead. It seems like we're getting news of reopening dates for Broadway shows every day here the past week; I remain equal parts excited and hopeful that when the curtains go up once again in Midtown, the activism that we've been seeing and demands for change within the Broadway community that have been called for will not have fallen on deaf ears, and that we really do see a new side to our industry, both in front of and behind the curtain. Keep the faith!

Peace & Love ✌️

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

COVID Reopening

It's safe to say most people were caught off-guard last week when the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people could resume most indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask. There was a sort of vague, unceremonious nature to it; after 14+ months of diligently strapping on and adjusting (and re-adjusting), I guess it's just now.... over? I'm not going to pretend to know much about the intricacies of epidemiology, but I'm still planning to mask up around the town here for a while longer. Call it extra precautions, or a general distrust I have for people after the last year... Who can say 🤷‍♂️

The industry was undoubtedly surprised by the development, though it did not come without its caveats. The official word from the CDC did note that masks can still be required on an individual basis "by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, including local business and workplace guidance." All shoots in CA will still operate on the previously-established COVID practices for masks and social distancing, at least until the Cal/OSHA board meets on Thursday to discuss any potential revisions. While the industry reaction has been a mixed bag at best, many feel the CDC's latest move portends a positive outlook for the months ahead. "It means the U.S. is on a positive pathway and that our economy is likely to come back soon," SMPTE Executive Director Barbara Lange shared. "Still, we need to take appropriate measures to ensure ongoing health and safety by continuing to promote vaccination as the quickest way to a normal state."

Broadway is bursting to get back, with about half of the shows announcing returning dates and ticket sales teeing back up. Is your favorite show back in business yet? Check the list here!

The past 15 months have given theatre companies plenty of time to experiment with how to bring theater to audiences anywhere other than inside an actual theater. And the effects of these findings may prove to be a long-term benefit for everyone. Outdoor venues and site-specific productions, long thought as a novelty and one-off trial runs for theaters, are now at a premium, and many companies remain interested to see how viable these models are to maintain in an annual season. "We've all been so closed up in our spaces so to just have something that’s not only communal but outdoors in pleasant weather, it's just so much hope," Saheem Ali, who will be directing the Public Theater's outdoor production of MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, told Playbill.

The return to live theater is a complex thing in the months ahead. We're nearly a year out from the We See You, White American Theater letter that sent ripples across the industry and forced every theatre company in the country to hold up the mirror and reassess their practices, policies, and motivations in the face of the systemic racism that was just as much a part of the American theatre as any other institution in the US.

Some performers have vowed to not return to the stage until they see real change from their companies. Others have brought groups together to discuss how to approach producers and managers about the changes they want to see in their productions. One thing is clear: The "new normal" that we are heading toward cannot be a facsimile of the one we left behind, no matter how many "statements of intent" and "pledges for change" are made. True change is made with action.

"We have watched you exploit us, shame us, diminish us, and exclude us. We see you," the WAT letter wrote. Gone are the days when performative activism and shallow inclusive hiring practices are just enough to "check the box," and I hope beyond hopes that they are gone for good. What's the point of reopening our theaters, from Broadway to the smallest community play, if we're not giving everyone the same chance and telling everyone's story, in an art form meant to be the champion of truthful storytelling? Now is the time to make good on all of these high-flying promises of "real change." If it's not inclusive, if it's not authentic, if it's not equitable and safe, then I don't want it.

More Articles:

Renewals and Cancelations and UpFronts, Oh My!

As sure as the sun rises and sets, spring in TV land means the perpetual chopping block for shows old and new, and this year, albeit with a few minor COVID alterations, is no exception. Many studios have already cut or confirmed many of their upcoming shows for the year ahead, with some leaning more heavily on stalwart favorites while Canadian networks look to nail down new hits in the wake of series finales from SCHITT'S CREEK and KIM'S CONVENIENCE STORE. and it's possible that there is some change on the horizon with regard to how networks will regard the traditional 52-week schedule.

"Rather than competing each year with other networks for the best directors, best actors and best writing staff all in the same small window, we’re now going to be able to take the time to make the best show, period," NBC exec Susan Rovner said of the studios looming pivot to more sporadic, mid-season models moving forward. More adventurous than most, The CW is looking to add programming to the typically-avoided Saturday evening time slot, announcing plans to play with two hours of primetime blocks on Saturday nights for the first time in its 15 year run. Craziness!

As my old speech and debate coach used to say: Why do we care, Sean? (things I ask myself when obsessing over anything remotely ridiculous these days) Traditionally, pilot season was the precursor to up-fronts in April and May, meaning actors would run around in winter and early spring on four hours of sleep high on caffeine and low on self-worth hoping to book the same part as the 600 other actors auditioning for the same 11 roles. But! These days, as streamers break the mold and more and more networks are ordering mid-season pick-ups, the days of the traditional pilot/upfront seasons may be reaching their end, spreading out auditions across the year and (hopefully) taking off some of the immense pressure that used to crop up each winter. If only there was a website that kept track of all the new projects and who's casting them and when they're picked up and start shooting so we can all stay u p - t o - d a t e ... (too much coffee this morning, sorry not sorry ☕️)

Filming Relocating to California, or..... Space?

California governor Gavin Newsom announced a new $30 million tax credit that will be made available to film and TV production companies shooting in the Golden State. Capitalizing on an opportunity to skim business that may be looking to relocate from Georgia following the passage of the intensely restrictive voter laws in the state earlier this year, the one-time cash injection would help satiate the rapid increase in filming in the state as COVID numbers continue to remain low and vaccinations increase. "This is an opportunity for those productions, TV, and others, in places like Georgia, whose values don’t necessarily align with the production crews to consider coming back to the state of California," Newsom said in a statement. 

Move over Tom Cruise, the Russians are coming! The race to creating the first movie shot in space got more interesting last week as the country's space agency confirmed that the two actors set to star in the space-bound CHALLENGE have undergone a host of testing processes to confirm their eligibility to film out among the stars, with flight training to begin by June before shooting later this year. Not much has been heard recently from the Tom Cruise-Elon Musk space venture that's set to film several action sequences onboard the International Space Station, but the pressure is on 🚀

Sundance to Maintain Hybrid Model in 2022

In a new vote of confidence for the dual online and in-person film festival model, Sundance has announced plans to keep the hybrid model for its January 2022 festival in Utah. "It's a grand experiment," Sundance director Tabitha Jackson remarked, hinting that the future of this and other festivals may continue to shape up in a virtual and live setting. And with good reason - many attendees at this year's event praised the snappiness of the online streaming platform adopted by Sundance, SXSW, NYFF, and TIFF, which never experienced any crashes or hacks and proved to be a welcomed reprieve to the often crowded and tightly scheduled in-person events. 

Sundance Institute also announced the selections for its inaugural Episodic Lab, which provided 21 fellows the chance to workshop their new works to a panel of creative advisors and either reach a completely draft stage or develop them into a package to sell to networks and streamers 🎬

The Big Screen is Back

The major movie theater players in the US are teaming up for a celebratory return to the cinema event scheduled for tomorrow at the AMC Century City in Los Angeles. "The Big Screen is Back," a continuation of the initiative originally launched in April is the latest push from the National Association of Theatre Owners, the Motion Picture Association, and various studios to welcome viewers back to movie houses across the country. "There is a lot to be excited about and much for audiences to look forward to this summer," the event committee said in a statement. Get me some popcorn and a cup of soda as big as my face and drop me in the AMC on 34th Street, I'm ready to be back 🥤🍿

Studios don't seem as convinced. Disney is playing close to the vest on their theatrical release strategies for the coming year, choosing a sit-and-wait strategy to see how upcoming titles like CRUELLA, BLACK WIDOW, and SHANG-CHI fair in the box office before committing to a more expansive release package for its films in 2022. With subscription numbers for Disney+ coming in at a lower rate than what was previously anticipated for the first part of 2021, it seems like the House of Mouse is hedging their bets on a potential combo plate of short theatrical release windows plus straight-to-streaming premier access to keep viewership and revenues high.

Then there's the question of how Disney views the concept of showrunners in the abstract. Given the meteoric rise of the Marvel franchise in the last 15 years, it's no surprise that Disney is continuing to churn out content that all stems from the MCU, but the way in which they're going about has been raising a few eyebrows. As Deadline put it, "the studio is making its TV shows as if they were roughly six-hour movies," effectively eliminating the need for showrunners and instead is installing head writers that all still operate on the same ship crewed by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, rather than maintaining complete creative control bestowed to showrunners under the normal model. Many writers across film and TV have expressed their concern about the Marvel model bleeding out into other studios in the years to come, potentially endangering the autonomy of the showrunner in the face of desired full studio control.

HFPA Fallout Continues

The much-maligned Hollywood Foreign Press Administration received a new round of blow-back last week as NBC announced that it would be dropping the 2022 Golden Globe Award Show from its network, stemming from continued condemnation of the organization's alarming lack of diversity on its board. And the reckoning extends beyond just the HFPA's dearth of representation in its ranks: journalists are now beginning to step out into the spotlight and recognize the complacency in the industry at large for enabling the HFPA's well-documented practices to continue unchecked. "The guiding principle of our industry has been winning awards at all costs, and it’s careened off the rails," longtime publicist Amanda Lunberg noted. "If we care about decency, inclusion, ethical behavior, and fiduciary responsibility, we must hold each other accountable to these and other tenets for any of it to be respected."

In an industry where time waits for no man, the Golden Globes' loss is now being eyed as the Emmys' potential gain. With the TV award show typically scheduled in the fall, half a year away on either side from nearly all of the major award shows that typically take place in winter and early spring, an adjustment in the show's schedule would drop the ceremony right in the middle of the excitement of award season, potentially leading to an overall increase in viewership for the various shows and a bump in ratings for the TV academy. IndieWire writes: "Making difficult decisions that may or may not have financial repercussions but are nonetheless the right thing to do happen so rarely in Hollywood, as in the world beyond, and other institutions should see this as a chance to be bold when everything inside them is yelling to stay the course."

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

"Harvey Weinstein and Scott Rudin may have been the most boldface examples of abuse of power in Hollywood, but they are not outliers." A scathing new report from Anita Hill's Hollywood Commission released last week delved into the seedy gray area of harassment and bullying among execs and their assistants in the industry, the latest in a tidal wave of accusations against leadership in entertainment this year. In the survey of nearly 10,000 industry workers, assistants were found to be two to three times more likely to experience bullying, and for women, who made up nearly 3/4 of the assistants surveyed, their rates of abuse were an additional two to three times higher than their male counterparts.

Broadway Advocacy Coalition is set to celebrate their inaugural class of Artivism Fellows with a four-night festival that will coincide with the launch of a new site dedicated to showcasing the Fellows' works. The Fellowship Hall, kicking off this Thursday, will feature free programming from members of BAC as well as performances from the individual Fellows, which you can sign up for via their website!

Advance Gender Equity in the Arts will sponsor 35 partnerships for BIPOC women and non-binary emerging theater artists of color through their IGNITE initiative, which will seek to pair their artists with BIPOC women and nonbinary leaders in the theatre community. The session will run through mid-summer and feature one-on-one sessions between the artists and leaders to discuss their career goals and establish mentorship opportunities for the up-and-coming artists looking to make the jump into the industry.

Advice & Submissions

We're always preaching it - just because you don't have an agent doesn't mean you can't be your own advocate and submit yourself on projects you know that you're perfect for! Colleen at Actors Connection is here to help dispel the myth: Now is the perfect time to submit yourself for projects, create and curate your own content, and keep pushing to get yourself in front of casting folks. And of course, The Up-To-Date Actor is the perfect companion to get you all the info you need to make it all happen 🤩

Looking for some new training opportunities? It's all about what you want and how you want to go about getting it. Check out these tips and kickstart your next acting journey! 🎭

JOB LISTING: Dancing Camera, a Denver-based video production company, is seeking a remote part-time Project Coordinator based out of NYC. Strong communication skills, managing workflow, responding to and coordinating client requests, invoicing and follow-up scheduling along with knowledge of Slack, Asana, Dropbox, Google Docs, and past project management experience are all required. A love of film, dance, and the arts is a plus! If interested, please send an email with your resume, cover letter detailing project management experience/involvement with the arts, and two professional references (name + phone numbers) to info@dancingcamera.com.

SUBMISSION: Are you a playwright looking to get your work noticed? The Yale Drama Series is now accepting submissions for its 2022 playwriting competition! The winner will receive a staged reading/virtual presentation, their work published in the Yale University Press, and the David Charles Horn Prize of $10,000 💰

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

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.

Quick Bites

AT&T's WarnerMedia will merge with Discovery to create a new "premier, standalone global entertainment company" that will focus on developing new content and bolstering the already existing slate of programs that will now fall under the company's umbrella, including HBO Max and the newly-launched Discovery+. The deal is expected to close in mid-2022, with the new name and structure to be announced in the coming months.

We all have our own audition lows and highs and... more lows. But we're certainly not alone. Apparently Seth Rogan and Jason Segel auditioned for 8 MILE together back in the early 2000s and had to rap together as each other's scene partners? I mean that's a movie I would watch on its own. Strange that neither of them got the part...

Looking to start in on a new series for the summer? Deadline has tee'd up its newest lineup of Contenders Television for 2021, an annual showcase of current frontrunners for TV award season. Check them out! 📺

My Name is Ian Aric- A Military Veteran and an Atlantic Student

Norman Lloyd Death: Todd McCarthy Remembers A Hollywood Legend

May 11, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

As more and more of the country issues plans and actual dates for reopening, it really feels like a new Spring beginning. This past week, Broadway shows began a slew of announcements with new opening dates for Fall and Winter of this year. In the TV world, Upfronts are in full swing with pilot orders and cancels coming in daily. For film, while reports on revenue are naturally down there seems to be a steady consensus that people do indeed want to return to the cineplex. All in all, it feels like reopening is actually happening and we are finally turning the corner. So, a gentle reminder to continue making smart decisions, socially distance, wear a mask when in a crowd, and get the vaccine as it becomes available to you. We are almost there!

What about you? Are you feeling the wave of renewed energy? If not, I encourage you to write down three small but doable actions that you can take right now. 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.

Let's get moving! 💃

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

Pilots & Upfronts

As we mentioned last week, Upfronts and NewFronts have started. This is when the networks and ad-supported streaming services present their new line-up of filmed content to advertisers. Ad companies then decide for which shows they would like to buy commercial spots. I don't know why, but it still shocks me (even though it shouldn't) that the deciding factor on what content we see is up to a bunch of "Mad Men" (and women). It just reinforces the notion that everything we absorb and engage with has been commercially vetted and backed. But I digress... 

Deadline has great coverage on renewals and cancellations by network. Also, check out more in-depth coverage on FOX, CBS, and NBC.

Show Me the Money!

Film

This should come as no shocker, Cinemark, the nation’s third-largest movie chain, said revenues for the first quarter ended in March fell to $114 million from $543 million the year before. "We are now actively on the road to recovery," said CEO Mark Zoradi, echoing comments by AMC CEO Adam Aron at AMC Entertainment Thursday and Marcus Theatres chief executive the year before. "We are highly optimistic about theatrical exhibition’s resurgence in the U.S. over the coming months on account of… the rapid pace of the vaccine rollout, improving consumer sentiment about returning to movie theaters, recent box office successes, and confirmation of consistent product supply. On a global basis, we remain confident that, like the U.S., other countries will quickly recover as lockdowns reign in the virus and vaccines are more widely disseminated."

Last week, Bain Capital Real Estate submitted plans with the city of Los Angeles to invest $450 million to develop a five-acre studio site on Santa Monica Boulevard. The entitlement process can take a year or more and the group is hoping to start development in February 2023. The site is an old Sears building and parking lot, not too far from Paramount Studios. The new urban campus called Echelon Studios will feature four 19,000-square-foot sound stages, a 15,000-square-foot flex stage, and a 90,000-square-foot "creative village" of high-end bungalows. It’s the latest in a stream of announcements from various developers for new or expanded studio space as the proliferation of streamers boosted demand for content and places to make it.

TV

AMC Networks said first quarter profit rose even as it navigated declines in revenue and operating income in the midst of a challenging environment. Like many other media companies, AMC Networks placed emphasis on its efforts to lure consumers who are migrating to streaming video. AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan said the company is on track to reach at least 9 million streaming subscribers by the end of 2021. The company has worked to bring its content to new viewing windows, including niche streaming services and new broadband outlets created for viewers of connected TVs.

Speaking of the ongoing streaming wars, Paramount+ will add 1,000 new movies to the fledgling streaming service next month. Additionally, the service will get an average of one original movie per month beginning in 2022, all part of increased investments ViacomCBS is making in streaming, the company’s executives revealed during their Q1 earnings call Thursday morning. "They're real movies, they’re not deep library," CEO Bob Bakish said of the 1,000-movie drop. Those additions, along with some more titles to be added in July, will bring the total number of films available on the platform to 2,500.

HFPA

They just can't seem to get it right...

Last week, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) members voted to approve it's board's plans to "radically" change the organization. This comes after weeks of continued scrutiny over the lack of diversity in the Golden Globes organization. "Today's overwhelming vote to reform the Association reaffirms our commitment to change," HFPA president Ali Sar said in a statement. Sadly, others don't seem to agree.

NBC and Dick Clark Productions may be on board with these latest attempts at reform and inclusion, but Time’s Up and Tinseltown’s top PR gurus are clearly not drinking the Kool-Aid. "What we have seen from the HFPA falls far short of what is required to transform the organization," the advocacy group said. "Our community of vibrant creatives across all racial, ethnic, and gender backgrounds deserve better." In the wake of Time's Up statements, more than 100 global PR firms reiterated their concerns about the state of the HFPA, spotlighting a timeline that they see destined to fail. Such an outcome could see the 2022 Golden Globes at least paused, if not axed, the publicists note.

The dominos continued to fall as Netflix announced they are stopping all activities with the HFPA until "more meaningful changes are made." “Like many in our industry, we’ve been waiting for today’s announcement in the hope that you would acknowledge the breadth of issues facing the HFPA and provide a clear roadmap for change," the streamer’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos wrote in a letter Thursday to the HFPA’s Leadership Committee. "However, we don’t believe these proposed new policies — particularly around the size and speed of membership growth — will tackle the HFPA’s systemic diversity and inclusion challenges, or the lack of clear standards for how your members should operate." HFPA President Ali Sar has stated, in response, that he wants to meet with Sarandos to "clarify some misinformation." "We would love to meet with you and your team so we can review the very specific actions that are already in the works," Sar wrote. "An open dialogue would help to ensure that we are addressing these concerns as quickly as possible."

UPDATE: NBC has announced they are canceling their broadcast of the 2022 Golden Globes. "Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023."

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The Sun Will Come Out, Tomorrow! 🌅

Theatre

Broadway is turning on the lights! Each day more and more Broadway shows are announcing their new opening dates. Here is a great list of Broadway shows that recently announced new dates. Many of the shows returning are actively casting replacements. Make sure to add any of these shows to your targets on The Up-To-Date Actor so that you can be notified of audition and networking opportunities!

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a $25 million arts and culture revitalization program, City Artist Corps, which will employ over 1,500 artists by putting them back to work throughout New York City with live performances, pop-up concerts, public art installations, and more. De Blasio said on May 6th that the City Artist Corps is inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt's Federal Art Project, a part of the Works Progress Administration that came out of the New Deal to revitalize the economy after the Great Depression. "We want to put artists back to work, so they can go out in every community in NYC and engage New Yorkers in fun and enriching experiences this summer," said Gonzalo Casals, the city’s cultural affairs commissioner, during a press conference. In addition to providing an economic boost to the city, Casals said "it's also the presence of arts and culture in our community that makes for safer, healthier, and more cohesive communities."

Film

Quentin Tarantino's Los Angeles Revival house, New Beverly Cinema, has set a reopening date of June 1st per its Twitter account. No further details were provided about the cinema’s upcoming schedule.

COVID-19 Impact

A new survey conducted by The Actors Fund sheds more light on COVID-19’s impact on the entertainment industry. The organization surveyed 7,163 people who sought its assistance during the pandemic. The results were announced Thursday morning. From people who were surveyed, 76% reported a loss of income, 62% lost party-time or gig employment, 50% lost full-time jobs in entertainment and 22% said they do not know when they will return to work. The study found that BIPOC respondents, about a third of those surveyed, were likely to experience food insecurity, housing changes, increased debt, and changed utility usage as compared to white respondents.

Opportunities

Arts outreach organization Off The Lane has established The Ann Reinking Scholarship, taking a cue from the late Broadway performer and choreographer's own life story and offering a $5,000 grant to a young dancer moving to New York City to help with their artistic endeavors. Applications for the scholarship are currently being accepted through June 30.

SIX the Musical's Adrianna Hicks will join the BroadwayWorld Stage Door masterclass lineup in June, as well as FROZEN's Patti Murin for an all new set of classes next month. Patti's class will take place on June 6th and Adrianna's on June 13th, both at Noon ET. A limited number of just 10 performance spots are available for each class to ensure each participant receives individual attention and has the opportunity to try out any feedback. Observation spots for each class are also available for just $25 each to audit the class. Observers won't be able to participate in the class but are able to watch the entire duration.

Fresh Faces

The Drama League has announced the recipients of the 2021–2022 Drama League Directing Fellowship and Residencies. Part of the League's Directors Project, will give each recipient financial and career development support, skill-honing workshops, and production opportunities at theatres across the country. As we often encourage you to do with playwrights, put these directors on your radar. It's always a good idea to get introduce yourself to tomorrow's stars!

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 4, 2021

Happy May, UTD!

Have y'all been enjoying some of this wonderful summer-like weather the past few days? I know I've definitely been capitalizing on NYC's spring thaw and doing some much needed cleaning, organizing, and getting myself ready for what will hopefully shape up to be an exciting summer. Truth be told, April has always been my least favorite month (sorry to my Aries and Taurus readers) - just something about the daily 30-degree temperature shifts, allergies, beginnings of humidity, and oh man how old do I sound... Anyways, very thankful to be welcoming some sunnier May days ☀️ How has everyone been? What are some projects you've undertaken these last few weeks?

Our next networking event is coming up this week! We'll be presenting our popular Seeking Representation 101 workshop with our friends at The Growing Studio this Thursday, 5/6 at 7 PM. Come chat with us about the best ways to approach representation as the industry continues to open back up and agents are updating their rosters!

Quick reminder: We will be taking a break from networking events here through the remainder of May into early summer, but keep your eyes open for some more virtual programming later in June and beyond 👀

Taking the rain with the sun this week, let's enjoy it ✌️

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

COVID Reopening

Film and TV COVID safety guidelines are here to stay, for the time being at least. Several production studios and unions have agreed to extend the current COVID health and safety protocols on Hollywood sets through at least June 30th, as infection rates in LA County continue to decrease and sets reap the benefits of an increasingly safer filming environment. While the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers protocols do not currently require vaccinations from anyone working onset, health officials continue to debate the feasibility of mandating jabs for production workers in the months ahead, with one industry insider familiar with the extension talks noting that "To mandate [vaccinations] at this point may be premature" 💉

Brooklyn theatergoers, rejoice! Downtown Brooklyn's Alamo Drafthouse is set to reopen its doors this Friday, joining 15 other locations around the country scheduled to open in May. Following strong box office debuts from MORTAL KOMBAT and DEMON SLAYER, which both raked in over $20 million in their opening weekends, CEO Shelli Taylor remains confident that the chain's continued reopening strategy will support what she hopes will be "a colossal season of big movies." Alamo is planning to bring a mix of new and classic titles to their locations in the coming months, already having announced plans to show MAMMA MIA, GOODFELLAS, and - wait for it - THE LORD OF THE RINGS 😍

Theaters are currently navigating an interesting gamut of obstacles in the race to get open and remain open. With NYC capacity limits currently set at 33%, movie houses are hedging their bets on strong audience numbers to keep them afloat until more seats are made available. And while in-person screenings are undoubtedly their bread and butter, some institutions' pivot to virtual screenings over the past year might be here to stay. "I don't think anyone would say that virtual cinema is blowing the doors off," Brooklyn Academy of Music Programmer Jesse Trussell said. "But it’s less about being a revenue driver than this value of access, so we can still reach people who can’t come to BAM."

Broadway can sympathize. While NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio detailed his ambitious plan to lift all COVID restrictions in the city on July 1st, he later clarified (even though all us weathered, salty theater folk already came to this conclusion on our own 😒) that the announcement most likely excluded any Broadway productions, which are still gearing up for a likely fall reopening. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo didn't mince words when commenting on de Blasio's reopening plan, saying the plan was "irresponsible" and that he plans to continue to make reopening decisions for the state "by the science, by the data." 'Til then, I'll stick to my couch and current SUCCESSION re-binge, take the Playbill Pledge to return to a theater as soon as I can, and dream of the days when my butt is in a Broadway seat laugh-crying with the rest of New York 🤞

UPDATE: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that state-mandated capacity restrictions in New York City will be lifted May 19, including Broadway theaters. However it is expected that Broadway will stick to a late-Summer/early-Fall opening schedule.

More Articles:

Revival of the Regional Theater

There's no question that regional theaters have been dealt a particularly devastating blow over the past 14 months, with many already operating on modest production budgets being forced to make incredibly difficult decisions on how to stay lean and stay afloat until the day that we can all return to the audience. But a new era may be on the horizon. A fledgling streaming venture from Broadway on Demand, ACT, Irish Rep, and Woolly Mammoth Theater Company will allow regional houses to broadcast their productions for viewers around the world, potentially opening up an entirely new source of interest and revenue for participating companies. "With great disruption comes great opportunity," Broadway Licensing President and CEO Sean Cercone said. The first performance will debut next Saturday, May 15th, a co-presentation of The Bushwick Starr's ANIMAL WISDOM from ACT and Woolly Mammoth. Come on now, virtual theater 👏

Up-Fronts Are Back, Nature is Healing 🌱

'Tis the May season, which means - in the before times - studios would be a hotbed of anxiety and late night pitching in the midst of chaotic TV "Upfront" presentations, jockeying for position on who will be landing ad space on what shows and at what times. For the second year in a row, however, all festivities are set to take place virtually, which proved to be a surprisingly tidy, streamlined process. May 17th is currently set as the week when everything will go down, but some networks like The CW are opting for non-traditional strategies like press conferences and other online formats to break the mold and present their wares for the 2021-22 season. Upfronts, as they are called, are how the networks decide which pilots and series will move forward and which will not move forward. Lastly, streaming services are similarly holding virtual "NewFronts" with Amazon joining for the first time for its newer ad-supported streaming service IMDb TV. All in all, look for major commitments and cancel announcements in the coming weeks.

Hot tip 🔥 Now is a great time to begin paying attention to which shows have been renewed for another season that film in your area. Start planning to get in front of the right casting directors when they begin searching for new talent in the months ahead. Target these shows on The Up-To-Date Actor and stay in the loop with casting folks before production starts late-Summer/early-Fall 😉

As networks begin the laborious process of deciding which shows to keep and which to show the door, network ratings become an increasingly important factor in the special sauce that may (or may not) keep a show on the air. A host of networks have raised questions in recent weeks about how Nielsen's changes in methodology led to potentially inaccurate or undercounted viewership at the height of the pandemic this past year, the ripple effects of which could color how ad space is distributed during this year's up-front presentations. In the words of one NBCUniversal exec: "Marketers don’t buy ratings. They buy results." Interesting days in the media ether are ahead, folks 🌄

Dawn of the New Productions

Apple has recommitted billions in investment capital for its upcoming slate of shows on AppleTV+, announcing that dozens of productions are set to begin filming in 20 states over the next few years. The $430 billion initiative will reportedly create thousands of jobs across the country, with 20,000 new positions expected to be hired in the US by 2023. Sooo.... more TED LASSO, please? 🥺

International

International production numbers are shooting back up as well. The Czech Film Commission is expecting filming volume to return to its 2019 pre-pandemic heights this year, when the country enjoyed a $420 million influx in foreign investment. Amazon and Netflix have currently set up shop on a handful of productions that are in various stages of production, including THE WHEEL OF TIME and CARNIVAL ROW for Amazon and ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT for Netflix. "[W]e are once again seeing huge demand for filming in the Czech Republic," director of the Czech Film Fund Helena Bezdek Frankova said. "The audiovisual industry has an extraordinarily strong capacity to adapt and recover rapidly, so it is also the perfect tool to jumpstart employment and entrepreneurship in the post-coronavirus period." With the 2021 award season now officially in the books, I guess it's never too early for studios to start building out content for the fall Emmys 👀

Netflix has also announced the creation of a new production office in Stockholm, Sweden, which the streaming giant says will serve as a base camp for its projects in the area. Netflix Director of Acquisitions and Co-Productions shared that the company "has always felt at home in the Nordics. It was one of the first places outside of the US where we started making local original shows, and over the past nine years we’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most brilliant creative talent in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland." The hub, scheduled to open later in 2021, will join Netflix's growing European presence in cities like Amsterdam, Brussels, Madrid, and Paris.

Not to be outdone by its older streaming brother in the international market, HBO Max is joining Netflix in the fray of diversifying its content worldwide by bolstering its Latin American slate with over 100 original content offerings in the next two years, with the first third of the programs already in production. With Latinx audiences accounting for some of the most robust viewing in the US, it's no surprise that the rapidly growing streamer is setting its sights on a healthy blend of English and Spanish viewing in the coming years, as the service also plans to become available in Latin America and the Caribbean in June.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

In partnership with the Ford Foundation and MacArthur Foundation, MTV Entertainment Studios will produce a one-night-only event to address the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in the US. SEE US UNITE FOR CHANGE, hosted by Ken Jeong, will broadcast on May 21st on all of MTV parent company ViacomCBS' channels, as well as their Facebook page. The event will feature music, comedy specials, film shorts, and more, all with the aim of celebrating the work of Asian-American creatives and their impact throughout US history, as well as highlighting resources that we can all use to support AAPI individuals in our community.

A new initiative aimed at empowering up-and-coming writers of color has named its inaugural round of participants for the 2020-21 cycle. Mentorship Matters, founded by a host of executive producers and showrunners from projects like VAMPIRE DIARIES and TRUE BLOOD, will connect 23 writers with industry mentors to develop their writing, discuss networking opportunities and receive guidance on navigating the industry. "With writers rooms getting smaller – when we hire a staff, we naturally turn to our showrunner colleagues for referrals," panelist Raelle Tucker (TRUE BLOOD, SACRED LIES) noted. "But for BIPOC writers without access to those connections or the opportunity to foster those relationships... This program is a way for showrunners to use our circles of influence, our experience, and our own writers rooms to help address a systemic problem."

Reese Witherspoon's Reese's Book Club will also take up the torch of empowering underserved writers with her newly announced LitUp campaign, which will help "elevate, mentor and champion new authors with the mission of spotlighting more diverse stories." The program is open to any unpublished, unrepresented female writer from a diverse background, and is seeking a completed adult or YA fiction piece featuring a female lead character. Five fellows will be selected to receive mentoring and industry advice, as well as an all-expenses-paid writer's retreat and market prep course from a published writer. Applications are due May 30th!

A coalition of Broadway and other NYC theater producers, along with Black Theatre Coalition and Columbia's Prince Fellowship, have banded together to launch The Theatre Leadership Project, with the goal of creating a substantially more diverse landscape among commercial theatre leadership. "It is our belief that by focusing on one of the most marginalized groups of people, we will ultimately create space for professionals of all races and ethnicities," TLP writes on its website. "For this current pilot program, we will focus on Black applicants due to the extremity to which they are excluded." Applications will open in the fall to any US candidate interested in pursuing careers in commercial theater development and management.

More Articles:

Union Renews Focus on Intimacy Coordinators

SAG-AFTRA is taking a firm stand against sexual harassment on film and TV sets. The union has created a new digital platform that will serve as a streamlined tool for reporting instances of misconduct and tracking individuals with multiple cataloged offenses. SAG-AFTRA Safe Place will accept both named and anonymous submissions, which will be reviewed by the union's Equity and Inclusion team to determine how to best handle the incident. The announcement of the platform was accompanied by new standards for training and empowering intimacy coordinators onset, as well as the creation of a registry for individuals who have taken on extra training in the field to be used by productions looking to hire for their projects. "Protecting the well-being, security, and dignity of our members is the reason that SAG-AFTRA exists," SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said. "These professionals have proven to be effective in changing the culture while safeguarding the safety and security of our members as they work."

Actors Equity kept pace with SAG-AFTRA's commitment to eliminate harassment from productions at its first-ever convention - Equity: Solidarity in a New Era - in late April. Check out all of the union's revised and newly developed initiatives for a more inclusive performing landscape in our ever-evolving theatrical landscape!

Funds They Are A-Raisin'

The Actors' Fund raised a whopping $138,000 for their continued efforts at their recent Stage & Screen auction night, headlined by all-time entertainment queen Christine Baranski 👑 The sale featured a wide array of items from Hollywood, opera, dance, and theatre, all up for bidding from interested buyers around the world. A portion of the proceeds also went to the Costume Industry Coalition, a network of over 50 small costuming businesses in and around NYC.

Dogs! Theatre! What's not to love! This year's annual Broadway Barks event will once again stream virtually, featuring performances from dozens of Broadway names like Daveed Digs, Mandy Patinkin, Audra McDonald, Nathan Lane, and many more. The organization will be accepting donations for over 20 animal care facilities in the tri-state area and will showcase dozens of dogs in need of a good home. Sounds like a great chance for our favorite employee Abe to welcome a new furry friend into Abi's house! 🐶

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.

Quick Bites

An exciting new art installation is set to open along the East River in Manhattan next month, as the city welcomes IMMERSIVE VAN GOGH, an interactive exhibit chronicling some of the artist's most beloved works. The original Italian creative team welcomed three-time Tony nominee David Kornis to share his scenic design expertise in making the most of the exhibit's temporary home at NYC's Pier 36. Tickets are on sale now!

Tribeca Film Festival - slated to debut as the first in-person festival in North America this year - has set the slate for its Tribeca X event on June 18th, which will focus on reconnecting and sharing "the power and importance of brand storytelling." Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, Roku CEO Anthony Wood, and Proctor & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard will all speak at the day-long event in NYC, sharing their views on branding in the 21st century in a series of panels and breakout sessions.

Top Chinese actress Zheng Shuang is facing an investigation after reports that she received $24.6 million for her stint in the upcoming 50-episode series A CHINESE GHOST STORY, an amount far above the government-regulated salary limit for entertainers in the country. The total would make Zheng one of the highest-paid celebrities to date for a single project, topping the likes of Gal Gadot in WONDER WOMAN 1984 and Margot Robbie in BIRDS OF PREY, who both earned around $10 million for their respective projects.

MIGHTY DUCKS, assemble! ⛸ Some of the OG cast members of the iconic film series made their debut in last week's episode of the Disney+ reboot, making for plenty of moments of nostalgia on the ice. Many spoilers in the article ahead, but lots of 90's good vibes too. Love to see it 🦆

April 27, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

It should come as no surprise that over the past few days a large portion of the news cycle has been nothing but Oscars. As we have been monitoring news feeds for almost two years now it has been so interesting to observe the trends of the industry - how announcements coincide with festival season, pilot season cycle domination, and the inevitable award season hangover. And that's where it feels like where we are today, the Awards season hangover. The question remains in this post-pandemic world, just how long it will last.

I don't know about you, but the return of nice weather has made it harder for me to focus. Between the excitement of restaurants and movie theatres opening again and the budding green around, I'm having to put on my blinders and do my best to drive on. One thing I have taken away from the pandemic however is to listen to myself and honor what I am currently feeling. That might mean an extra few minutes walking the dog, stopping to make a good lunch, or just releasing the need to solve every little thing immediately. So I encourage you to listen to your body and mind. Take an extra little break when needed.

Have a great week!

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

Upcoming Workshops

As I mentioned last week, Annie and I will be taking some time off from our free workshop schedule. So don't miss our next workshop on May 6th with The Growing Studio. This will be our last workshop for at least a month. Bring all of your career and Up-To-Date Actor questions, and we'll help you get organized to make the most of this Spring and Summer.

Oscars

Did you watch the Oscars this past Sunday? What did you think of the format?? The producers stated prior that they wanted to avoid a glorified "webinar" and the Zoom-less event did pack more glamour than recent pandemic televised award ceremonies, but overall the show lacked the pizazz of "movie love" promised. I don't know about you, but I greatly missed the clips of each actor nominated prior to being announced in their category. Instead, the celebrity announcer rattled off some (seemingly heartfelt) chatter about the nominated actor and their remarkable performance. Even having seen many of the films, it would have been nice to actually see a snippet of that remarkable actor instead of having to listen to a description - seeing is believing and I lost interest early on.

Apparently, I wasn't alone in. The ceremony's ratings were down a whopping 58% to a record low of a measly 9.85 million viewers, with a dismal rating of 1.9 among the 18-49 demographic. Yikes!

While nowhere near perfect, the Oscars did manage to take several diversity and inclusion strides this year - largely in response to last year's #OscarsSoWhite. Many award winners made history by being the first person of color to and/or woman to take home that specific honor. Several of these include:

  • Chloé Zhao (NOMADLAND) is the second woman and first woman of color to win Best Director
  • Yuh-jung Youn (MINARI) won Best Actress in a Supporting Role, making history as the first Korean
  • Daniel Kaluuya is the first non-white British actor to win an Academy Award for acting
  • Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson, and Sergio Lopez-Rivera won for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for their work on MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM, Neal and Wilson became the first Black women to win the honor

The biggest surprise of the night was Anthony Hopkins' win for Best Leading Actor over Chadwick Boseman. The whole event was colored by this even more so given the change of format where both Leading Actor awards were announced after Best Picture, a move only done once in the Oscars 93-year history. It seems safe to say the producers assumed Boseman would win and the ceremony would end on a heartfelt note. Instead, everyone was surprised and Hopkins wasn't even there to accept the award.

NOMADLAND came out as the victor with three wins. While Netflix had the most nominations (36) and the most wins (7) out of any studio, the streaming giant has yet to take home the golden goose - Best Picture. Here is a list of all of the winners.

For more in-depth reading, check out some of the vast Oscar coverage:

Netflix - Top Brass, Top Dollar 🤑

As evidenced by their towering Oscar nominations and awards, Netflix is looking to be a dominant force in quality original content. And that ain't cheap. Netflix revealed that it will spend over $17 billion on content this year, according to its first-quarter earnings report. That’s a notable uptick from the streamer’s 2020 spend of $11.8 billion, as the pandemic prompted production delays across the industry, and a 2019 content spend of $13.9 billion. That's a pretty big financial commitment considering Netflix’s subscriber growth cooled dramatically in the first quarter of 2021 after record pandemic-fueled gains last year — and the streamer added about 2 million fewer customers than it previously expected.

One way the company is looking to recoup lost revenue is by tightening security and cracking down on password-sharing. Netflix estimates they could reap billions in lost revenue. "We test many things but we would never roll something out that feels like turning the screws" on consumers, Co-CEO Reed Hastings said during the company’s first-quarter earnings interview. "It’s got to feel like it makes sense to consumers, that they understand it." The tests, which were revealed earlier this year, aim to "harmonize with the way consumers think about it," Hastings added.

I guess they need every penny they can get considering that co-CEOs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos earned $43.2 million and $39.3 million, respectively, in 2020, representing sizable pay increases for the two men. Something doesn't seem right when the co-CEOs manage to get a pay-increases with subscribers down, and looking to squeeze comparative pennies out of their customers in the middle of a pandemic when vast swaths of the nation lost their job and were told to stay inside for over 12 months. But what do I know... 🤷‍♀️

Reopening

TV

Big production news! On-location filming of TV shows in Los Angeles reached pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2021 – the second quarter in a row that it’s hit that milestone, according to the latest report from FilmLA, the city and county film permit office. However, film and commercial production are still significantly down. This might be partially due to the high demand for continued network and streaming serial content as well as the high cost and compounded pandemic complications to film production.

Theatre

All signs are looking good for theatre reopening nationwide. California is increasing the indoor event capacity for "yellow" tier counties to 75% and Los Angeles, which is currently an "orange" tier, will be open at 50%.

Cirque du Soleil announced the reopening of four of its most iconic shows, two in Las Vegas, one touring company in the Dominican Republic, and one in London. As I mentioned last week, this is a huge bode of confidence in global readiness and the ability to be able to gather indoors in large numbers again.

Again, I'm repeating myself from last week, but regional theatre really is back! New seasons and audition announcements are being posted daily. Here is an article on a select few productions coming to larger cities this Summer. Get ahead of the casting notice by targeting specific plays and theatre companies on the Up-To-Date Actor and receive notifications of upcoming productions as soon as they are announced.

WHAT DID YOU SAY?!?!?! 🦻

I'm not crazy, those commercials are SOOO LOUD, right?!?!? Finally, I know I'm not the only one who thinks so! You're watching a quiet drama and you have to crank up the volume to understand the dialogue, then BAM, cut to commercial and the walls are shaking with the details of the latest McDonald's $5 meal combo. The FCC Media Bureau is taking a fresh look at its rules regarding the nearly decade-old Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, by soliciting feedback from consumers. Created to "eliminate any systematic difference between the loudness of commercials and the loudness of the programming they accompany," the CALM Act’s rules have been revisited only once since their initial institution, to adopt minor changes. Now, the FCC is seeking comment, so please for the love of my eardrums and sanity, drop a line and tell them to turn down the volume!

Scandal in the Air

HFPA

While the Oscars seem to be moving in the right direction the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is drowning in the murk of their continued controversies in the aftermath of this year's Golden Globe Awards. The HFPA's Diversity and Inclusion Advisor, Dr. Shaun Harper, has walked away from the Golden Globes organization one and a half months after being hired. Countless PR companies are also jumping ship and severing ties with the HFPA over the group’s lack of Black members and no real strategy to become more inclusive.

This announcement comes on the heels of another controversy on the same day. Member, and former 8-term HFPA president, Phil Berk has been expelled for sending HFPA members a racist email. In the email, Berk quoted an article that called the Black Lives Matter organization a "racist hate movement" and claiming that Black Lives Matter's Patrisse Cullors was a "self-proclaimed trained Marxist."

Scott Rudin

Speaking of monsters... Scott Rudin continues his rapid fall from grace. After announcing that he was stepping away from all of his Broadway productions last week, Rudin is removing himself from his film and streaming projects and is resigning from the Broadway League.

In the wake of the Rudin harassment and bullying allegations, The Producers Guild of America is expanding its Independent Production Safety Initiative to include anti-bullying trainings "with the goal of eliminating workplace violence and aggression."

If you're out of the loop on just how heinous Scott Rudin is, here is a recent article from New York Magazine's Vulture with accounts and personal experiences by Rudin's former assistants over the past 20 years.

Diversity / Inclusion

Cast diversity in films "skyrocketed" last year, according to the latest inclusion report from UCLA. "People of color and women made tremendous strides among film leads since the last report, cementing 2020 as a watershed moment for diversity,” the study says. "For the first time, both groups nearly reached proportionate representation among film leads." And while 2020 was certainly Hollywood’s most atypical year in terms of how films were released, the report concluded that it "was the industry’s most successful year on the diversity front." UCLA's "2021 Hollywood Diversity Report," co-authored by sociologists Darnell Hunt and Ana-Christina Ramón, is the latest indication that Hollywood is in the midst of a diversity sea change. The report also looked at diversity within the ranks of film writers and directors, and here too found significant gains for women and minorities.

An informational hearing on "Unseen Latinas in Hollywood" was held Friday in Sacramento to explore the barriers Latinas face in the film and TV industry. "Despite Latinas making up 20% of the population in California, we continue to be excluded, erased, and misrepresented in movies and on TV," said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), chairwoman of the Select Committee on Latina Inequities, who hosted the hearing.

SAG-AFTRA has launched a Spanish-language version of its website as part of a broader organizational effort to increase engagement with its thousands of Spanish-speaking members. The new website is also designed to support the union’s organizing efforts in the growing Spanish-language market. The website will include the content of its English counterpart as well as articles and resources that are specific to the needs and work of the Spanish-language industry.

More Articles:

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.

Theatre

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

April 20, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

First and foremost, let me start by thanking Sean Gregory for writing our Weekly Insight emails over the past three months. As most of you know we are a small family business (plus Sean) and we are so grateful for his continued help and input as we grow this community and service. As I mentioned in my last Tuesday email, back in January, Sean took on more duties so that I could focus on expediting development and improvements to the site. Sean will continue to help with the Tuesday emails, social media, and should you need to reach out for tech help, handle our customer service emails.

Annie and I have enjoyed meeting so many new people at our recent workshops. As the business continues to pick up speed post-pandemic we have pushed ourselves to offer more and more free workshops to help actors find their footing and navigate this new post-pandemic frontier.

Theatre is Back!!

Last week, we held a new exciting workshop on Booking Theatre Work Post-Pandemic with the Growing Studio. This topic is one that I have been itching to host for a few months now, but the timing finally felt right. It's no secret Theatre was the hardest hit sector of our industry, so it feels as if a huge weight is lifting seeing audition announcements flood the airwaves again, and seasons announced daily.

In the past month alone, 50 new regional seasons have been announced and 45 audition notices have been posted. This may not seem like a lot, but considering the radio silence of the past year, this feels like a welcome re-birth for the theatre industry!

Upcoming Workshops

We also had a great workshop yesterday on Seeking Representation 101 with Actors Connection, discussing not only how to create a successful representation campaign, but also how to build a better relationship with your agent or manager once you have representation. In case you missed this workshop, we will be repeating this topic in May! See more info below.

We will be taking some time off from workshops from late May through early June. So don't miss this opportunity to ask all of your career and Up-To-Date Actor questions!

As usual, there is a lot going on this week. It feels as if the industry is making up for the year of lost time. So kick back with a cup of coffee ☕️️ and enjoy! Now is a great time to take bold action and move your career to the next level.

Have a great week!

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

And.....we're baaaack!

Theatre 🎭

As I mentioned in my intro, dust off your tap shoes, theatre is back! We've talked a lot about Broadway and Off-Broadway, but for the first time, National Tours are announcing dates and auditions. Two of the country’s major theatrical venues announced reopening plans last week, with the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. set to house Broadway productions beginning in November and October, respectively. Tours are large-scale Broadway productions and require large numbers of audience members in attendance to be financially feasible. The return of national tours is a huge sign of confidence that the country is finally ready to open for large-scale indoor events. Here is a full look at the shows that have announced dates and the cities listed on the touring circuit.

Part of this large-scale opening plan is majorly dependent on the vaccine rollout. There was even an audition notice last week that stated all actors would have to be fully vaccinated by May 1st. Last week, the Times Square coronavirus vaccination site serving the Broadway theater industry opened with an open invitation to the city’s film and television workers as well. "We want the film and TV community to be part of our vaccination effort as well," Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "so we welcome them to join the vaccination center in Times Square. We want to make sure that the film and TV industry comes back stronger all the time. Vaccinations will play a key role and we want to make that easy." 💉

Audition notices are being released daily, just a reminder that active Up-To-Date Actor members receive daily or weekly notifications of these audition notices. Make sure you have selected "Theatre"  as one of your interests to receive these notices. Otherwise, you will receive a notification only if you are targeting the Producing Theatre Company, Play, or Author. Happy auditioning!!

Film

Another positive is the return of in-person festivals. A number of festivals including Cannes Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, and Comic-Con have announced either in-person or a combination of in-person and streaming format for their 2021 festivals. Tribecca Film Festival is adding its name to the list. The 20th edition of the NYC film festival is kicking off with an indoor-outdoor event, featuring the world premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda's IN THE HEIGHTS, two days prior to its worldwide theatrical and streaming release.

Congratulations! 🎉

Last week, The Casting Society of America announced the winners of the 36th Artios Awards, recognizing the best casting efforts in feature films, television, and theatre. The winners include major casting offices on both coasts including

  • Los Angeles: Betty Mae Casting, Vickie Thomas, Horn/Aufiero Casting, Francine Maisler Casting, and Kimberly Hardin Casting
  • New York: Gayle Keller Casting, JV8 Casting, Avy Kaufman Casting, Ellen Lewis Casting, and Erica Hart Casting
    • Check out the entire list of this year's Artios winners. This is the perfect opportunity to reach out to the specific casting directors who won and send a congratulations note! You can find the most recent contact info (addresses, emails, etc.) on the Up-To-Date Actor. Take it one step further and add these CDs to your targets to be notified of any new projects they are casting as they are announced.

Pilots, Tax Credits, Relocations, Oh My!

One year later and we're not much clearer on the effects of COVID on the structure of Pilot Season. Across the Big Five networks, the majority of the pilots in contention this year are holdovers from 2020. Some projects were scrapped and some are only now going before the cameras. Studio and agency sources say they expect this to translate into fewer new series pickups this year. Read more specifics on each of the five major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and The CW) and their current state of pilot season.

We've already seen several sophomore series relocate from New York and parts of Canada to Los Angeles. THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT and CHAD are both relocating to Los Angeles from New York and Portland, Oregon respectively. Depending on where you are located, this is either good or bad news. The snagging of the shows pushes the number of TV series that have moved from elsewhere to California — a top priority for the $330 million-a-year tax credits program — to nearly two dozen series over the past several years. Tax credits can make or break an entire state's Film & TV industry - just look at what happened in Florida (lost an industry) and Georgia (gained an industry) in the last decade. Last year, New York State cut their film tax credit from 30% to 25% in response to the budget deficit caused by the pandemic. Five percent might not seem like a lot, but when you're talking millions, the dollars add up. 💸

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Another Movie Theatre Pandemic Casualty 🍿💀

Decurion, the parent company of the 18 Arclight and Pacific Theatres announced they are closing all of their cinemas in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and D.C.. While tiny in comparison to AMC, Regal, and Cinemark, this recent closure announcement has major implications for the industry.

Of the greatest concern is Arclight Hollywood, which alone provided one percent of the total North American gross for edgy and acclaimed indie titles. There is hope, however small, that the Arclight could reopen. Among the top domestic exhibitors, Cinemark is considered the most likely to be interested.

Lastly, this new wave of closures further stresses the need for financial action from government. Theater owners are especially frustrated, anxious, and unnerved that a signature government lifeline so far has struggled to get up and running. The Small Business Association (SBA) program was to have started to receive applications last week. But technical glitches forced the SBA to shut down the portal, with no word yet on when it will get back up and running. UPDATE: Almost two weeks later, SBA has revealed that they hope to fix the crashed website by the end of this week.

On a positive note, New York movie theaters can increase their capacity to 33% from 25% on April 26, according to new Covid-19 safety guidelines announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Georgia Boycott 🍑

As we've been covering over the past two weeks, multiple big-budget productions have pulled out of Georgia in response to the new repressive election laws. Director Ryan Coogler just announced that he is keeping BLACK PANTHER II in the peach state despite the passing of Senate Bill 202. Coogler states,

Having now spoken with voting rights activists in the state, I have come to understand that many of the people employed by my film, including all the local vendors and businesses we engage, are the very same people who will bear the brunt of SB202. For those reasons, I will not be engaging in a boycott of Georgia. What I will be doing is using my voice to emphasize the effects of SB202, its shameful roots in Jim Crow, and doing all I can to support organizations fighting voter suppression here in the state.

At The Office

Some big shakeups were announced this week. Sharon Klein was named EVP of Casting at Walt Disney Television leading the casting teams of ABC Entertainment, 20th Television, ABC Signature, 20th Television Animation, Walt Disney Television Alternative, Hulu Originals, and Freeform. Lindsey Kasabian was named SVP of Casting at Freeform. Kasabian will report to Klein as Disney is Freefrom's parent company.

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Power and Abuse

In the wake of allegations of longstanding abuse—both physical and emotional—and intimidation, producer Scott Rudin has announced that he will step away from his Broadway productions, effective immediately. "After a period of reflection, I’ve made the decision to step back from active participation on our Broadway productions, effective immediately," Rudin wrote in a statement provided to The Washington Post. "My roles will be filled by others from the Broadway community and in a number of cases, from the roster of participants already in place on those shows."

However, a retreat from the limelight and power is not enough for some. Tina Tchen, president and CEO of the Time’s Up Foundation, added her voice today to those calling for producer Scott Rudin to release employees from prior non-disclosure agreements.

Earlier in the week, MOULIN ROUGE! star Karen Olivo announced she was quitting the production in protest over Rudin's abusive behavior. That action has had a ripple effect that can be felt as far as London. Director Rob Roth, who was set to helm the upcoming UK tour of Beauty and the Beast, penned an email to Rudin while on a flight, which was transcribed by the passenger next to him. In reference to Karen Olivo leaving MOULIN ROUGE! Roth wrote that Rudin should receive "an honorary Tony for somehow getting that horrible woman to quit acting. God bless you Scott for your service to American theatre." After confirming his words and releasing the email, Roth has stepped down from the UK production. 🤔 Seems like two birds killed with one stone.

Diversity & Inclusion

Native American-themed films and TV shows have been on the rise recently – Ava DuVernay and Bird Runningwater are developing a dramatic series for NBC about the struggles and triumphs of an Indigenous family – but Hollywood has a long way to go to include Native Americans into its storylines. During SAG-AFTRA's panel discussion about Re-Creating Native Americans in the Media, Hollywood was urged to tell more stories about Native Americans as the modern people that they are, not just as throwbacks to the bygone era of cowboys and Indians – and to give Native Americans a seat at the table to tell their own stories.

In the wake of last week’s Stop the Hate summit, SAG-AFTRA’s national board has approved a Diversity Action Plan that includes provisions for implicit bias training for its national and local board members. The plan also establishes diversity committees serving the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) and Latino communities and strengthens partnerships with organizations conducting diversity and inclusion research. profiles. The board, meeting virtually on Saturday, also adopted a new membership rule – Rule 7 – that explicitly prohibits harassment and abuse, including sexual harassment, intimidation, and retaliation for the filing of complaints, and makes violations subject to disciplinary action. Read article for more details.

Seeking a Director of Color? Now, there’s a database for that! Director/playwright Kareem Fahmy has created an open-source spreadsheet to match BIPOC directors with theatres and playwrights. Public spreadsheets like this can be used not only by individuals to hold institutions accountable. They can also work in the other direction, providing institutions with the tools to do better in the first place.

Scholarship Alert: Broadway Arts Community has just announced a new Spotlight Scholarship, shining a light on BIPOC artists and their voices. This year Summer BAC will have several full-tuition scholarships for Summer Roots in NYC, in addition to some additional financial assistance for any and all artists. Check out the article for more information.

The film MINARI is already making history, and the Oscars haven't even aired yet. Veteran Yuh-Jung Youn is the first South Korean actress to be nominated in an acting category at the Academy Awards. She’s up for Best Supporting Actress for her powerful performance. When asked what it’s like to be the first Korean actress nominated for an Oscar, she said, "Very stressful." She added, "I was just very happy being nominated. I never even dreamed about being nominated for an Oscar. People will be very happy for me if I get the win, but it’s very stressful." Youn is not alone, actor Steven Yeun became the first Asian-American actor to land an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance in MINARI. In a recent article for The Hollywood Reporter Yeun discussed the term "Asian-American actor" and how he takes issue with being defined as such and not simply "an actor."

More Articles:

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.

Audition Tips & Insight

Over the past week we stumbled upon several different advice articles for actors. Take a look:

How to Shine Online- Audition Tips for Online Auditions and Self-Tapes

Check out the latest advice article on The Art of the Follow-Up from our good friend Colleen Kahl, president, at Actors Connection.

We stumbled on this old Casting Director panel interview from Comic-Con 2013, but it still has great applicable advice and info on the casting process from major casting directors. Featuring Randi Hiller, Lora Kennedy, Sharon Bialy, Roger Mussenden & David Rapaport.

Evan Peters of WANDAVISION and MARE OF EASTTOWN shares some great insight on his process and preparation.

Does your morning need a fresh routine? Check out this Perfect Your Pre-Audition/Show/Self-Tape Skincare tutorial from Broadway World.

Quick Bites & What to Watch

David Fincher gave Aaron Sorkin a simple but essential tip to prevent studios from owning him as a Filmmaker: don't let the studio think you want to make the project more than they do.

The Gucci family is taking issue with some of the casting choices in the upcoming drama film HOUSE OF GUCCI starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver.

🐅 Tiger alert! John Cameron Mitchell has been tapped to play the title character opposite Kate McKinnon in NBCU's upcoming JOE EXOTIC limited series. "I’m thrilled to take on the role of this modern folk antihero," said Mitchell. "Joe and I are the same age and like him, I grew up queer in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas so I feel like I know a little bit about this guy and his desperate attempt to conquer an inhospitable world."

Bryant Park's Picnic Performances series will return to New York City's Bryant Park this summer with 25 live and in-person music, dance, and theatre events. The free series at the midtown park will be offered to a socially distanced audience, with performances live streamed as well. The season will kick off June 9 with a four-night run of shows featuring musicians from The New York Philharmonic and will continue through September 20, concluding with a program presented by The Town Hall starring mandolinist and public radio star Chris Thile to celebrate that venue's 100th anniversary.

What to Watch

Thanks for reading to the end!! Have a great week! 😘

April 13, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

It's been an exciting past few weeks of watching the industry roar back into focus, and while I'm very grateful that things are moving forward, projects are casting once again and life is inching toward a new normal, I've needed to remind myself here and there that there's no shame in taking it easy in getting back into the swing of things. We've been living entirely separate lives over the last year, growing and changing as artists and as people, and as much as we're all excited to get back to crushing a pot of coffee a day and having seven auditions a week, our bodies need to get warmed back up first. So a reminder to everyone: drink water, get your eight hours of sleep, and be kind to yourself. We got this!

We have two upcoming workshops in the next week! The first is this Thursday with The Growing Studio and the second is Monday with Actors Connection. We'd love to see you there! We'll be chatting at The Growing Studio about booking theatre work in this new virtual + audition in-person landscape, and how to make your submissions stand out this year. And at Actors Connection we'll be discussing seeking representation and how to work with your representation once you have it. Register for both today!

Opening the Industry Floodgates

Actors Equity has updated their production guidelines for the next few months, outlining their plans for "fully vaccinated" companies that wish to set up shop using all cast and crew that have received their two vaccine shots and cleared the 14 day waiting period afterward. Equity held a town hall with members of the scientific community last week, fielding questions from attendees about reopening practices and further-reaching safety concerns for the months to come. AEA is set to revisit its current guidelines on June 30th.

Production maven Tyler Perry officially ended his quarantine bubble at the Atlanta-based Tyler Perry Studios last Saturday, after holding a mass vaccination event at the complex on April 3rd for cast, crew, and their families. Perry's approach to filming over the last year has been praised by many around the industry for its incredibly low infection rates and high show yield; the studio completed filming on several full seasons, including BET's THE OVAL and SISTAS. With the bubble now a thing of the past in Atlanta, Perry will still uphold strict COVID protocols for all of his productions following current industry guidelines.

NYC theaters have been struggling with the current reopening plan keeping their capacity at 25%, with many reporting that they will need audiences caps to rise to 50% by Memorial Day and 75% by July 4th if they are to remain operational. "We are at the Governor’s door every morning with a call or an email trying to get to a minimum of 50% right now across the state," New York National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) president Joe Masher said. "We just can’t make it at 25%. We have to accommodate the movie-going audience. We can safely do so."

Out on the West Coast, officials in LA county are slowly easing their restrictions on outdoor gatherings as COVID case numbers continue to decrease in the region. Outdoor events can now operate at up to 67% capacity, so long as everyone is vaccinated or tests negative, with social distancing and masks still required. Indoor dining for casts and crews on film, TV, and commercial productions have also been bumped up to 50%.

Former presidential and current NYC mayoral candidate Andrew Yang unveiled an ambitious proposal to bring folks back to theaters in New York by combining city funds and corporate donations to purchase "hundreds of thousands" of tickets for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows at reduced prices. The tickets would then be distributed to non-profit centers around the city, prioritizing organizations that support first responders and essential employees. Yang's targeted list of company sponsors - EY, PwC, Deloitte, and J. P. Morgan - would also receive a percentage of the tickets to share with their employees. Yang's proposal came the same day Dr. Fauci predicted a "late fall or early winter" return to maskless gatherings indoors, having previously stated that he believed folks could safely return to indoor performances wearing masks if 70-85% of the population is vaccinated by late fall.

More Articles:

Condemnation Continues for Georgia Voter Law

Backlash keeps flowing from Georgia's restrictive voter law passed a few weeks ago, with more and more industry voices joining the opposition to continuing business in the state. "It is clear that there is plenty of work to do to make our communities more fair, equitable, and safe," SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White said in a joint statement. "We encourage SAG-AFTRA members everywhere to make themselves heard, stand up against injustices, and support laws designed to level the playing field." The Producers Guild followed quickly behind SAG-AFTRA's lead, adding in a tweet that "Full access to voting is the underpinning of our American Democracy and it is imperative for us to rigorously protect these rights for all Americans."

The Directors Guild went one step further to voice their disdain for the measure, sending a letter directly to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp urging him to reverse course on the measure before it can fully take effect on July 1st: "As a leading voice representing creative workers in the industry, we are compelled to denounce SB 202, which will disenfranchise our members, and disproportionately impact our members of color and millions of other hardworking Georgians." The DGA has over 400 members that reside in the state known for being a hotbed of film and TV production in recent years.

The political turmoil in the Peach State has presented itself as an opportunity to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who is hot on the trail of picking up some of Georgia's film and TV production looking to relocate. Murphy sent a letter to studio heads earlier in the month urging them to consider bringing their projects to Jersey, which boasts a similar 30% tax credit and 40% studio construction credit. A mass production exodus seems unlikely from down south - Georgia has the second most square feet of sound stages behind California, and the systems in place in the state continue to make it an attractive option for studios. "If all those jobs and all that money and all that leaves the state, it’s not going to help anyone," Forest Road Company CEO Zachary Tarica said. "No one will win."

Industry Intel

Big weekend of award shows last weekend, as the Directors Guild of America held their 73rd annual award ceremony Saturday evening, with Chloe Zhao becoming just the second woman to take home the top prize of Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Theatrical Feature Film. The BAFTA's also announced their honorees on Sunday evening, with Zhao once again receiving the top director prize, along with NOMADLAND taking home Best Picture, Best Actress in Frances McDormand, and Best Cinematography. With the Oscars less than two weeks away, many are eyeing up the outcome of the DGA and BAFTA Awards over the weekend as the final test run for the most probable outcome of the 93rd Academy Awards on April 25th. What say you, UTD? Who do you think will be taking home this year's award for Best Picture? 👀

The festival circuit is shaping up for the next year of premieres: The Russo Brothers-led AGBO Film Festival announced a new competition and festival taking place this weekend, pitting the expertise of fledgling filmmakers against each other for a three-day event aimed at discovering the talents of unrecognized creators. Are you a filmmaker looking to flex your 48-hour filmmaking muscles? You need to check this one out! 🎬

The Palm Springs Film Festival will finally be bringing back in-person viewing next winter, announcing last week that their 33rd annual event will take place at the Palm Springs Convention Center from January 6th to the 17th, 2022. The festival typically attracts around 135,000 participants. A desert getaway in January? Sign me up 😎

Well-documented over the last few decades as one of the most difficult and abrasive names in the industry, producer Scott Rudin is once again finding himself in the spotlight after a group of former employees have come together to speak out against the EGOT winner's volatile workplace behavior. I encourage everyone to take some time to read through the Hollywood Reporter article that details these accounts to understand the gravity of Rudin's laundry list of ridiculous conduct; I applaud the bravery of those who spoke out, and I'm hopeful that bringing these stories to light will mark a turning point in eliminating this behavior from our industry. TW: Workplace violence.

More Articles:

More Financial Support on the Way for Arts & Entertainment

New York State solidified their budget last week for the 2022 fiscal year, earmarking nearly $1 billion for small businesses, namely arts and entertainment venues, to get back on their feet in the months to come. The COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program will funnel cash and tax credits towards institutions in the arts and culture sector, doubling and extending the credit for four more years through 2025. Other provisions include grants for upgrading venues to comply with current COVID health guidelines and additional funds for COBRA subsidies. The new budget came on the same day the Small Business Administration had planned to open up applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, previously heralded as the "Save Our Stages" Act, but quickly postponed the unveiling after a technical issue with the site forced venues to withhold their submissions for the time being.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is once again stepping in to provide financial relief via its National Grants Program to help artists battling HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, and other life-threatening conditions across the country. In partnership with Gilead Sciences Inc, BC/EFA's Red Bucket Match-Up plans to raise up to $2 million for the program, with Gilead pledging to match every donation 1:1 up to $1 million. "Gilead led the funding of our Emergency Grants for Pandemic Relief last year, ensuring grants that we initially feared wouldn’t be made," BC executive director Tom Viola said. "[W]e’re excited about the opportunity the Red Bucket Match-Up gives us for this year’s National Grants Program."

Movie Theaters vs Streaming Wars Continue

Warner Bros is walking back their initial confidence in the swiftly-adopted hybrid release model that all of their movies would be using this year, saying in an interview with Vox that they should have handled interfacing with filmmakers better before making the blanket decision to stream their 2021 slate exclusively on HBO Max before releasing each title into theaters. "If I had the chance to do it over again, I think it’s very fair to say that we would have taken a couple more days to see if we could have had even more conversations than we were able to have," Warner Bros CEO Jason Kilar said. The industry was quick to opine on the studio's adventurous release model, which received harsh criticism from directors like DUNE's Denis Villeneuve and TENET's Christopher Nolan, who called HBO Max "the worst streaming service" during a scathing review of WB's strategy.

The battle of release rights has become a topic of much discussion over the past year, as theaters remaining shuttered until only recently are now finding a much more hostile environment for staying open in 2021 than when they last opened their doors. LA-based ArcLight Cinemas received an eviction notice on their Culver City location last week after allegations of missed rent payments, days after a Florida landlord won nearly $1 million from a Regal location for similar offenses. While theater owners continue to grapple with capacity limits and safety measures, streaming services are racking up silent wins, with Netflix announcing that they will become the official home for all Sony content in 2022 and beyond, inking a deal to secure movies after they leave theaters as well as upcoming straight-to-streaming titles from the studio.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The 32nd GLAAD Media Awards crowned their winners last week as a part of a star-studded night that included Dan Levy, Laverne Cox, Sterling K. Brown, and more. Honoring "media for fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues," this year's GLAAD awards focused on several prominent issues during the ceremony, including the passage of the Equality Act in support of transgender youth and the continued support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Check out the full list of winners here!

PARASITE director Bong Joon-ho is the latest to weigh in on the stark rise in anti-Asian violence around the world, speaking to a group at Chapman University last Wednesday: "as someone who is a part of mankind, as a person, it’s quite fearful to watch the hate crimes against Asian-Americans and the BLM movement," he said. "I do think about what the film industry can do at this time.... use your insight to portray the issues that are currently boiling underneath the surface of society that can explode later on." The sentiments from the Oscar-winning director were mirrored in a recent roundtable with a group of Asian-American theatre heads from across the country, sharing that the road toward equal, authentic representation for Asian characters onstage in the US continues to present both its challenges and opportunities in this new age of activism and solidarity.

The shuttering of the LA Stage Alliance last week signaled a tectonic shift in the theatre scene in Southern California, as the institution responsible for the annual Ovation Awards, which came under fire for mispronouncing and misrepresenting actress Jully Lee during this year's event, was seen as a stalwart organization in the area. Lee's boyfriend, Howard Ho, penned a response letter to LASA's closure, saying that the media portraying this slip-up as the sole reason for the group's disbandment is not only deductive but disregards a much bigger issue with representation and support of the AAPI community in the LA area. "[I]t was the LASA’s board of directors who themselves shut the organization down rather than attempt to work to regain the community’s trust. Tellingly, in the days before their closure, LASA’s board had released a multi-pronged action plan to help rebuild their organization—a plan which they quickly seemed to have no interest in or ability to implement."

A new set of virtual pieces dedicated to supporting the voices of artists with disabilities is currently available for viewing online, thanks to a joint venture from Arts for All Abilities Consortium and Roundabout Theatre Company. Reverb Theatre Arts Festival chose 24 participating artists from submissions across the country, receiving spoken word, monologues, music, and dance pieces around the prompt "Connection". Viewing information can be found via Roundabout's website!

Starz has announced a new partnership with Alliance of Women Directors to increase the breadth of female directors throughout the premium cabler's project slate. The #TakeTheLead initiative will, among other things, commit the studio to seek out and hiring up-and-coming women in the directing field to helm various episodes of their future projects. "Since mentoring programs don’t always materialize into staff opportunities, we’re excited that this program includes a commitment to not only support but ultimately hire talented directors who just need an opportunity to put their skills into action," Starz President and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch said in a statement. The program will be open for applications to all AWD members in May.

SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITY: BIPOC musicians looking to pursue a career in theater will have the chance to submit for a new scholarship from Musicians United for Social Equity (MUSE), aimed at supporting underserved artists looking to pursue a career in theatre. Comprising a board of award-winning musicians like HAMILTON's Alex Lacamoire and AIN'T TOO PROUD's Kenny Seymour, MUSE aims to increase racial equity for musicians in the theatre through mentorships, internships and funding. Two $2,500 scholarships will be made available to one theatre professional currently working in the industry, and one student-enrolled musician who plans to enter the theatre industry upon graduation. Applications close May 5th!

More Articles:

In Memoriam

It is with sadness that we learned of the passing of Sue Henderson this past week. Up-To-Date Theatricals and Henderson Enterprises started our businesses around the same time and Sue was an early-on driving force to help actors learn the importance of self-promotion. As an acting consultant, Sue helped hundreds of actors get their careers on track by showing them how to focus on what counts; namely the business of acting. We are so thankful for our time spent with Sue over the years, and we will deeply miss her.

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.

What to Watch & Read

That's all for this week, folks! We hope to see you for our Growing Studio workshop this Thursday and at Actors Connection on Monday. Be on the lookout for information about other events we're lining up in the coming weeks 🤓

Peace and love ️✌️

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

April 06, 2021

Happy April, UTD!

I hope everyone had a lovely Passover week and Easter weekend for those who celebrate 🌷 it's been great to see some signs of life springing up around the parks in NYC here this past week, a much needed reminder that warmer times are ahead and our winter hibernation is coming to an end.

Mark your calendars now for our next slate of events coming up in April and May - Abi and Annie will be tackling the emerging post-pandemic landscape and how to stay on top of everything being offered in 2021! Click on each link for more info.

Busy week in the industry, so let's get to it!

TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 Bests NOMADLAND at SAG Awards

SAG-AFTRA presented their awards for film & TV project Sunday evening, with many of this season's usual suspects picking up additional wins, and a few standout newcomers taking home top prizes. Aaron Sorkin's THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 came away with SAG version of Best Picture - Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Motion Picture - besting Chloé Zhao's NOMADLAND, which previously took the top film award at most other major award shows this year. SCHITT'S CREEK cleaned up the TV comedy field, with THE CROWN taking home the prize for Best Ensemble for a Drama Series, all but punctuating awards season for television, as we await the 93th Academy Awards at the end of the month. Check out the full list of winners here!

With the top of the awards season for films slowly creeping toward us in Oscars' night on April 25th, show organizers are currently playing with the idea of rotating guests in and out of the Union Station venue in order to keep air circulating and not having folks around each other for extended amounts of time. This year's Grammys test piloted a similar model, as pods of nominees and performers were switched out every 45 minutes, and cleaning crews sanitized the areas in between groups. The Academy is set to meet today to discuss seating procedures and other plans for the event with studio representatives and producers.

More Articles:

Industry Reacts to Georgia Voter Law

In the aftermath of the dangerously restrictive elections bill signed into law in Georgia last week that would restrict access to voting for thousands, if not millions throughout the state, many companies have spoken out against the bill's disenfranchisement of groups that would otherwise rely on the voting access it has since denied, particularly communities of color in the state. Of note, media giants like Disney have yet to make their stance known on the issue, underscoring the complicated relationship that companies acclimated to taking advantage of the state's robust tax credits are currently involved in.

In the hours following Atlanta-based Delta Airlines' CEO Ed Bastian's condemnation of the law as "unacceptable," the Georgia House passed a bill that would stamp out tens of millions in jet-fuel tax credits. Hollywood remains skeptical of a full boycott of filming in the state: ViacomCBS made their opposition to the bill known, sharing in a statement that they "believe in the importance of all Americans having an equal right to vote and oppose the recent Georgia voting rights law or any effort that impedes the ability to exercise this vital constitutional right," becoming one of the first studios to widely condemn the legislation. Tyler Perry, who maintains one of the largest film and TV studios in the state, didn't mince words for his part, remarking that the "unconstitutional voter suppression law... harkens to the Jim Crow era," but remained confident that, like the state's previous attempts at passing the anti-abortion bill and LGBTQIA+ discrimination bill, the Department of Justice would ultimately block the bill's constitutionality.

The call to boycott doing business in the state is not so cut and dry as one may think. Voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, while calling the bill "a reminder of Georgia's dark past," said to remain vigilant of desires to abandon any business that does not fully condemn the bill, saying that it may only further damage minority communities. Other Hollywood magnates are still moving forward with their boycott plans: Mark Hamill and director James Mangold have both vowed to not return to Georgia to film future projects, and the WGA issued a statement saying they supported its BIPOC members "who are deeply troubled by the new law and the damage it does to them and to their state," and warning that "[i]f Georgia wants to benefit from the thousands of good jobs our industry brings to the state, it cannot attack the democratic rights of its own people."

It's a Fest

Summer 2021 may mark the re-emergence of the in-person film festival, as many organizers look to maintain the integrity of their viewings while still remaining wary of the general uncertainty regarding limits on public gatherings. Tribeca Film Festival has become the first event in North America to announce a complete return to in-person showings, creating a full itinerary for some of NYC's largest venues for the 12-day festival. Outdoor viewings at Brookfield Place New York, Pier 57 Rooftops, Hudson Yards, and more are currently being workshopped for the event, set to take place June 9-20th.

Film at Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art have announced plans to mix both in-person and virtual elements for the 50th anniversary of their New Directors/New Films (ND/NF) festival later this spring in New York. "From intimate, personal tales to political, metaphysical, and spiritual inquiries, the films in the 50th edition of New Directors/New Films embody an inexhaustible curiosity and a fearless desire for adventure," festival co-chair La Frances Hui said in a statement. The event will be streamed virtually between April 28th and May 8th while hosting in-person events at Film at Lincoln Center from April 28th through May 13th.

COVID Updates & Reopening

NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer is calling for vaccine eligibility for all performing arts and cultural workers in the state, highlighting the importance of getting the industry back on its feet and revitalizing the arts and its adjacent sectors in the city. "Vaccinating our cultural workers is essential to resuscitating the arts industry, bringing tourists back to the five boroughs, and energizing the cultural economy," Stringer wrote in a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYS DOH Commissioner Howard Zucker. Broadway theaters began welcoming limited audiences in March as a part of the state's NY PopsUp initiative with the St. James Theatre leading off the Broadway revival with performances from Savion Glover and Nathan Lane for frontline workers BCEFA and The Actors Fund.

Audiences may only need to wait a few more months for their Broadway fix. Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin confirmed that a handful of shows are "tentatively holding September dates for reopening or opening,"and several more eyeing October and November returns. St. Martin added the possibility of returning sooner if a dramatic downturn in COVID infection rates prevailed, but that September seemed to be the likeliest date for now. Other venues of less than 10,000 people in New York officially opened their doors at 33% capacity last week, offering a glimmer of hope that more in-person events may be on the horizon in the state.

Sony Pictures has announced plans to return to their Culver City, CA lot on June 1st, barring any unexpected spikes in COVID cases in the next two months. The company will be making significant upgrades to the office's cleaning and filtration protocols before employees return to the site after Labor Day, marking the first major studio to set a return-to-work date this year.

Actors' Equity will be hosting a public webinar for theatre workers tomorrow at 12 PM EST to discuss the COVID vaccine, namely tackling availability for arts workers in the country, testing protocols for returning to work, and more. AEA President Kate Shindle will be joined by top epidemiologists in the US in partnership with the Adult Vaccine Access Coalition. The panel comes a week after the union set forth its newest set of COVID guidelines and safety protocols for companies to use as members return to the workplace.

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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Film & TV

Television writers are doing their part to adapt the monolith of cultural and societal reckoning that occurred throughout the US in the past year, and if the past and upcoming weeks of television are any indication, we are about to see a new era of storytelling on the small and big screen. NBC's TRANSPLANT, a recent honoree at the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Media Awards, has been praised for its portrayal of Muslim men and women and the plight of Syrian refugees. Fellow medical drama NEW AMSTERDAM has made it a point to address the effects of systemic racism in healthcare, having written some of this season in the days and weeks after the murder of George Floyd.

Last week's NEW AMSTERDAM episode tied in a real-life instance of anti-Asian verbal assault that series actress Christine Chang endured earlier in the pandemic, a response that showrunners felt was their duty to share in 2021: "Hollywood has for so many decades perpetuated harmful stereotypes, and now we really need to make it a priority to dismantle that." Writers for THE OFFICE are being taken to task by actress Kat Ahn after she shared her own story of racism and belittlement from her time on the show, saying that the portrayal of Asian characters as "just one big, walking stereotype without any personality or individuality... is problematic."

WarnerMedia has teamed up with Black List to amplify underrepresented voices in the community by way of social media. The company will work with HBCUs and other organizations to select up to 600 participants that will receive the opportunity to have their scripts evaluated by a professional in the industry and receive feedback. The scripts will also be viewable for all users of the platform, allowing the writers access to other industry insiders that may be looking to develop new works. "We know that changing and growing the pipeline will take a collective effort, and this is part of our larger commitment as members of the creative community to increase opportunities for those who don’t have access through traditional means," WarnerMedia’s senior VP of equity and inclusion said in a statement.

Theatre

The LA Stage Alliance has officially ceased operations effective immediately, in response to misrepresenting a nominee at its Ovation Awards last week. The decision comes after LASA mispronounced the name of nominee Jully Lee at last week's Ovation Awards while showing a photo of her fellow castmate in place of her own. Lee was nominated for her performance in East West Players' HANNAH AND THE DREAD GAZEBO, which featured a full company of Asian-American actors. "The mispronouncing of our names combined with the sentiment that all Asians look alike is not new," East West wrote in an Instagram post after announcing that they would leave the organization. "However it particularly stings when the evening is supposed to be about raising the visibility of LA’s theater community and celebrating our artists."

The move from LASA comes as the industry continues to grapple with the fallout of the shooting in Atlanta and the widespread rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans in the past year. The National Asian Artists Project put out a statement condemning the racist actions of individuals in the US and abroad: "These aggressions and events have impacted our families and friends across the nation, leaving many with increased fear in their everyday lives."

The Shubert Organization has released its latest installment of the Shubert Advocacy Series, which "aims to give a platform to organizations who will provide compelling and engaging conversations, so that their voices, missions, and experiences can be heard." This episode features Broadway's LaChanze and Vanessa Williams from Black Theatre United, Brandon Michael Nase and Tiana Okoye from Broadway for Racial Justice, and X Casting NYC's Victor Vazquez, who sit down to discuss the state of representation and authenticity in the industry, and the much-needed changes that need to happen in theaters across the globe moving forward.

SUBMISSION: Black Theatre Coalition and Broadway Records are seeking submissions from Black musical theatre writers for a new album consisting of all-Black new works set to debut this year. Both new and established Black musical theatre writers are encouraged to submit their work to be considered. The deadline is Monday, May 17th!

The theatre has undoubtedly lagged behind in its inclusion of disabled folks onstage, behind the scenes and in the audience, and as a new age of representation emerges from the important conversations spurred on by the events of the past year, it is time for theaters to be doing their part in recognizing their role in marginalizing the disabled community and taking steps to insure inclusion means in inclusion for all moving forward. TCG's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion department has pulled together a list of articles and resources of columns, op-eds, and calls to action for the theatre community to continue their promises made last summer to underserved communities: "As the theatre field reckons with the demands of We See You, White American Theater and other accountability movements, it is crucial not to lose sight of the intertwined struggles for equity and inclusion waged by and on behalf of the most vulnerable and historically excluded."

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Quick Bites

A New York City landmark has found its new home: BroadwayWorld offered us a first look at the new location of the Drama Book Shop on 39th St, one block away from its previous location. Though no open date has been finalized, part owner Lin-Manuel Miranda shared his joy for when the day comes: "To the next generation of dramatists, actors, directors, composers, choreographers, designers, and theater enthusiasts: the stage is set...Come in. Discover. Enjoy."

President Biden shared his plans for upgrading the nation's infrastructure on Wednesday that would include access to cheaper high-speed internet for much of the country. A controversial piece of the bill would also boost corporate tax rates to 28%, a move that may prove counter to the efforts of studios and media companies' lobbying for a 21% rate less than four years ago.

Netflix has shared its goal to go completely carbon-neutral by the end of next year, announcing its Net Zero + Nature protocol to continue reducing its greenhouse gas emissions in the years ahead. "[W]e aspire to entertain the world," Netflix sustainability officer Emma Stewart, PhD wrote in a post. "But that requires a habitable world to entertain."

New year, new Shakespeare sonnet? A scholar in Leeds, UK, claims to have found a previously undiscovered piece of writing from the Bard from around 1606, potentially written during quarantine from the bubonic plague. The authenticity of the piece has yet to be verified, with many wondering if it can truly be attributed to Shakespeare or another writer from the time period. Oh, and did I mention that it was written on toilet paper? (Yeah okay it's an April Fools joke but honestly, it took me a minute 🧻)

GAME OF THRONES is set to receive the stage treatment sometime in the next few years, as reports confirm that series creator George R.R. Martin has teamed up with Duncan MacMillan (1984, EVERY BRILLIANT THING) to pen an adaptation eyeing Broadway, the West End and Australia in 2023. The newest jaunt in Westeros is to be set in "a pivotal moment in the history of the series," and will reportedly feature a handful of recognizable names from the series. Dragons on stage? I'm here for it 🐉

What to Watch & Read

That's all for this week, folks! Don't forget to register for our upcoming events in April and May, and be on the lookout on our social media for more events and site updates to come 👀

Peace and love ️✌️

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

March 30, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

We hope everyone has been enjoying a taste of some spring weather this past week, it was a lovely weekend here in NYC (capped off with a cleansing rainy Sunday, can't have the sun without a little drizzle 🌧). I loved seeing everyone's #WorldTheatreDay posts on Saturday; I'm slowly getting more and more excited about our triumphant return to the stage, and it sounds like everyone else is ready to step back into costume here sooner than later. 🤞

We have our last March event coming up this week with Actors Connection! We'll be chatting with the AC team tomorrow about booking work on your own, regardless of whether or not you currently have representation! Register today!

Lots of good stuff in this week's email, check everything out and then go enjoy some of this spring sunshine ☀️

Award Season Rolls On 🏆

The long march spring award season continued this week with the Producer's Guild of America Awards being presented last Wednesday, crowning Chloé Zhao’s NOMADLAND with top honors in the best picture category, leading many to speculate about an impending Oscar win for the Frances McDormand-led juggernaut in late April. Other fan favs taking home prizes included SOUL, SCHITT'S CREEK and THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT. Check out the full list of winners here!

The 52nd annual NAACP Image Awards crowned their winners last week as well, with INSECURE and BLACK-ISH each taking home a handful of awards, along with teams from HBO's POWER BOOK II: GHOST and I MAY DESTROY YOU. BRIDGERTON breakout star Regé-Jean Page took home the award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series, remarking "It is the highest  honor to represent us in our glamour, in our royalty." Read the list of nominees and winners here!

With the 93th Academy Awards just around the corner, studios and producers are gearing up for another COVID-abbreviated showing, with an unexpected twist from the Oscar reps. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) informed nominees last week that all acceptance speeches would be required to be given in-person at the event location in downtown Los Angeles in April. The news has left studios, agents, and publicists with clients around the world scrambling for answers, as an in-person attendance would require any nominee to quarantine for 10 days prior to the event, racking up considerable hotel and travel expenses for their sponsoring companies. Might wanna reconsider this one, AMPAS. 👀

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association continues to take heat for its startling lack of diversity with literary agency Verge standing up as the first agency in Hollywood to make a statement condemning the lack of Black representation on their 87-member voting panel, adding further pressure on the HFPA to make swift changes to their internal structure. "For true change, reform should not be corrective, but organic," Verge wrote in a statement, noting that they did not step up to the plate in the same way that the Oscars did over the past year in making actionable advancements for representation among their ranks. The HFPA received word that they did secure a victory last week in an ongoing antitrust lawsuit filed by a group of journalists from Spain and Norway, which claimed that the organization did not give them a fair shot at joining the voter panel and were subsequently locked out of access to top Hollywood talent.

Movie Theatres Keeping Eyes on the Prize

The LA movie scene continues to receive good news with the announcement that arthouse cinema chain Laemmle Theatres will reopen six of eight locations on April 9th. "If you had asked me in March of 2020 whether we could survive being closed for over a year, I would probably say that it would not be possible. And yet, here we are," owner Greg Laemmle wrote. NYC will also welcome back a sorely missed cinema staple with the reopening of Film at Lincoln Center on April 16th, which will include the Walter Reade Theater and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. "After 400 days of darkened screens and empty seats, we are excited to fire up our state-of-the-art projectors and reopen our theater doors."

Theaters are continuing to grapple with the COVID-inspired PVOD fallout for films over the past year, as many chains look to strike deals with studios that will get films back into reopening cinemas before being released to audiences at home. Global theater network Cineworld announced a new multi-year deal with Warner Bros. that would bring their theatrical and HBO Max offerings to Regal theaters in the US, a move that Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidnger hopes will pave the way for further theater-friendly deals with other studios in the coming months. "We trust and believe at the end of the day that theatrical exclusivity is of interest to all sides... As long as theatrical exclusivity is kept in a way, we are going to do well and people will still run to movies in the cinemas."

COVID Updates & Reopening

Despite everything and the kitchen sink being thrown at them over the last year, performing arts students in both high school and college are keeping their hopes high for a future in the industry. 69% of students surveyed in a report from college admission counseling firm ArtsBridge in February said that they were not considered a career shift, while 46% of parents surveyed expressed some level of concern with the kids' job prospects. Keep your head up, kid. Better days are ahead. 🌄

Members of the San Francisco artistic community will be receiving some much needed financial support in the coming months, as a new pilot program will allot for 130 artists in the city to receive $1,000 a month for the next six months. SF Mayor London Breed spoke about the initiative last week: "There are people living in challenging circumstances right now. We want to move as quickly as we can to get them the resources they need." The grants will be made available primarily to individuals "whose artistic practice is rooted in a historically marginalized community."

Universal Television is in hot water after a new lawsuit claiming a crew member was fired from production on a comedy series after a COVID diagnosis. Chief rigging technician William Pavlu was hospitalized in mid-December while battling the virus and received notice that he would not be returning to set once the production resumed after receiving assurance from the team that he would not be let go. "I was in the hospital, and they fired me while I was in the hospital," Pavlu said in an interview, noting that a second production he was working on at the time, MYTHIC QUEST on Apple TV+, kept him onboard through his illness and welcomed him back to set without issue.

Exciting vaccination news rang through the streets of New York last week with the announcement that a site run by and specifically dedicated for members of the entertainment community will be constructed in the theater district in the next few weeks, along with a mobile unit for Off-Broadway theaters and pop-up testing sites for other performances venues. While these sites will still follow the state-mandated guidelines on eligibility, Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that they will be operational by President Biden's May 1st deadline to make the vaccine available for all adults in the US. Broadway vets André de Shields and Telly Leung were on hand for the mayor's press conference last week, where they both shared their excitement for the return of Broadway in 2021: "We help heal the soul… Artists will be essential in how we heal from this."

New York also introduced a new virtual pass that will allow users to carry proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test in their pockets. The Excelsior Pass will securely store proof of a user's vaccination or testing status, which can then be scanned via a QR code by corresponding venues like businesses and event venues to allow entrance to the area. The app is free and completely voluntary; several major venues including Madison Square Garden and the Times Union Center in Albany have already announced plans to use the app, with a further expansion to smaller venues available this Friday.

I Think I Feel A Change in the Wind, Says I

A new casting model currently being workshopped by producers on SURVIVING THE CARTEL is drawing ire from SAG-AFTRA for its suspect structure. Touted as a "hybrid casting" program, the process allows for actors to submit for the 33 roles being offered in the production, which can then be voted on by anyone other than the actor for $3.50 per vote, up to 50 times. Whoever is the first to receive 1,150 for each role will be cast, with the expected $130,000 in voting funds going toward the production. 1265 Films, the team behind the series, is defending the seemingly pay-to-play scheme: "Our mission is to empower great actors, unseen talents who have been forgotten by the Hollywood system, ignored by casting directors, agents, or managers, and who have been unfairly cut by the casting politics that goes most of the time behind the curtain. This platform makes it easier for actors to jump-start their careers – while offering to the audience the fun experience of noticing the birth of future movie stars." SAG-AFTRA has since barred its actors from working on the project.

New casting process? How about a new casting platform? Ahab, spearheaded by Penguin Random House Audio has launched to join the fray of the ever-expanding voiceover industry, already accruing more than 9,000 users from 67 countries. The site allows content creators to search, message, and book talent for any type of VO project - and it's free for actors! Have you been building your voiceover wheelhouse over the last year? Well then do I-hab the platform for you! (Terrible Tuesday jokes, you're welcome 🤪)

If you've been strolling through audition notices over the past week, you may have noticed an interesting twist from PHANTOM OF THE OPERA: Tara Rubin Casting is currently accepting open call video submissions for Christine Dáae, noting that the character may be cast as "Black, Latine, MENASA, API, Indigenous, or white." Peter Van Dam of TR Casting noted that while nothing can replace the energy of an in-person audition, the office felt it was important to pivot toward this virtual platform for the time being: "One of the most exciting and gratifying aspects of our job is meeting and encouraging young and upcoming performers of all backgrounds. Holding open calls is key to discovering the next generation of artists." In particular, the casting call's wording that specifies the aforementioned communities is an important piece of the representation puzzle. "We have to come to realize that stating 'all ethnicities' is not deliberate enough," Van Dam remarked. "By spelling it out, we hope that performers who might not have thought they were right for a particular role can see that they will be seriously considered."

Three big changes in the casting world, it seems. What else does the industry have waiting in the wings? Only time will tell. 🎭

Industry Intel

West Hollywood mainstay CBS Television City is receiving an influx of $1.25 billion from Hackman Capital, which will allow for the creation of more soundstages and dozens of much needed upgrades to the nearly 70-year-old lot. The project will add up to 1.13 million square feet to the studio, which is currently home to shows like AMERICAN IDOL, DANCING WITH THE STARS, and THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH JAMES CORDEN.

Disney+ viewers will be seeing a slight uptick in their bills moving forward, as the streamer bumped its rates from $6.99 to $7.99 per month and from $69.99 to $79.99 per year. Hulu bundlers will also see a dollar increase to $13.99 per month. The service still remains among the cheapest streaming options on the market, considerably lower than Netflix ($13.99/month for the standard plan) and HBO Max at $14.99/month.

Legislators in the UK are pressuring streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon to pass along performance data of shows that originated in the country, in order to better inform how British content is fairing on the platforms. A group of lawmakers is advocating for legislation that would require the information from major streamers, as well as a provision to label content as coming from BBC, ITV, and other UK channels.

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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Broadway and Hollywood members of the AAPI community joined a video from the Consortium of Asian American Theatres & Artists (CAATA) last week, calling for unity in the wake of anti-Asian violence in the US. The video follows weeks of action in support of the AAPI community, for which CAATA released a statement condemning the acts of hate around the country and announcing plans to hold workshops later in the year on bystander and anti-violence training with HowlRound Theatre Commons and Theatre Communications Group. SAG-AFTRA also put out a statement last week in support of the AAPI community, calling on union members to be agents of change and take up the torch in the fight against Asian-American violence: "We must speak louder than the voices of hate."

A new crop of writers is changing the narrative on portraying poverty in media, headlined by research from the Media Impact Project at the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center. Netflix's GENTEFIED showrunner Linda Yvette Chavez is one of several up-and-coming writers that has been thrilled with the response to seeing these narratives onscreen, namely from her own mother: "This is the first time I’ve seen something where I see working-class communities where it looks like us and it feels like us," Chavez' mother noted. "I could tell whoever made it wasn't afraid or ashamed of being poor, they weren’t ashamed of who they were, they weren’t ashamed of being Mexican, really Mexican." POSE showrunner Steven Canals echoed this sentiment: "There’s all this labor that we all have to do when we get into a room to convince folks that our stories have value, especially when those stories that we're pitching are also centering narratives of people who look just like us."

Washington D.C.'s Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company announced the first annual participants of the Miranda Family Fellowship Program, using funds from Lin-Manuel Miranda's Miranda Family Fund. Citlali Pizarro, Autumn J. Mitchell and Jeremy Pesigan will each receive early career training and guidance through the theatre company and its partners, along with a housing stipend, healthcare and a full salary, in support of the development of their new works. "[W]e have launched a pipeline for future arts administrators and technicians who have been time and time again excluded from the industry," Luis Miranda said in a statement. "We cannot wait to continue building the fellowship program to support even more behind-the-scenes artists."

For anyone who's seen Pixar's SOUL, considered by many to be a frontrunner for this year's Oscar for Best Animated Feature, the barbershop scene has become an iconic part of the film and a turning point in the plot itself. Writer Kemp Powers, who also penned the highly-praised ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI, recently shared how the scene came to be, and why its late addition to the film ended up being so vital to the story's success: "Joe is a Black man in New York, and part of your time you go through what I call 'authentic Black spaces,' where you’re around other people like yourself," Powers described. Production designer Steve Pilcher added: "When we were making it, we were thinking about tradition, which is very important in a barbershop. You have clientele coming back for years, probably since they were kids. There’s relationships that go on since those early days and you have to mirror that and respect that. The space allows group interaction and it’s a space where you can just chill."

Let's All Go to the Library 📖

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center is lending a hand to artists in need of tech support in our increasingly virtual industry. Their new program, "Tech Kits for Performing Artists," provides artists with access to an incredible array of at-home devices: an iPad Pro with cellular data, a USB mic, headphones, ring light, and access to a 32-key piano if needed. All for the price of a New York Public Library card (aka free for NY residents) 😯 That is truly amazing to me. I once spoke in front of the PA House of Representatives Education Committee about the importance of funding libraries in our schools, and it makes me so happy to see these institutions continuing to be such a powerful resource in the community. Fund our libraries! 📚

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


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What to Watch & Read

That's all for this week, folks! Lots of interesting tales from the industry for sure; super excited to see where we go from here. Don't forget to register for our Actors Connection workshop tomorrow, we'd love to see you there!

Peace and love ️✌️

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

March 23, 2021

Happy Spring, UTD!

Seemingly against all odds, we officially made it through winter 2020/2021, and I couldn't be more excited to usher in a new season this week and a renewed sense of life and growth 🌷 As I'm writing this, the sun is just starting to peek its way through the buildings outside my apartment, and I can't help but think that the changing of the seasons will undoubtedly breathe some fresh air into the tiredness that has set in from our long COVID winter. There is work to be done and we are not out of the woods yet, but something about the last few days has been feeling increasingly hopeful of an exciting return to a new normal sooner than later. May we all manifest some good thoughts about a bright spring and summer this week!

Don't forget to sign up for our next workshop with Actors Connection! We'll be chatting with them about booking your own work with or without an agent, and how to make the most of the resources on UTD Actor to go out for the projects you're right for this year!

Road to Reopening

It comes as no surprise that the spring thaw, and increase in vaccination numbers, has led many in the industry, particularly around Broadway, to continue their push toward reopening in the hopefully-not-too-distant future. The Public Theater made waves last week with its announcement that NYC summer staple SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK would return to the Delacorte Theater in Central Park this July. with a "fresh and joyous adaptation of Shakespeare's MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR."

Audiences returning to the Delcorte's outdoor stadium seating is an encouraging sign for Broadway hopefuls, but the road to reopening on 42nd Street is still months away. Even if houses were given the go-ahead to allow shows to resume tomorrow, the curtains would not go up on performances for several months, as Broadway producer Kevin McCollum remarked of his own projects - "We need to be on sale at least six months before we do our first show." The reality of the Broadway reopening hangs heavy in the minds of most producers these days, considering the wealth of logistical and safety concerns that will factor into getting cast, crew, and audience safely back into theaters. "We're not going to let anyone in this theater, on stage or backstage, if we feel there's any risk of putting them in any peril," McCollum said.

Actors' Equity has agreed to host a town hall in response to members' demands for transparency about the union's reopening plan for theaters and live performances, which has remained something of a gray area for both performers and venues. Over 1,700 AEA members signed the petition requesting a meeting to discuss the March 3rd update to the union's COVID-19 Procedures and Protocols, which many feel are equal parts vague and out of touch with reality for many members. "Many Equity members and many theaters have grown deeply frustrated and increasingly concerned about the lack of practical details in how to return to work," the letter stated.

The Actors Fund doled out more than $19 million in artist relief over the last year, a 71% uptick in distributed aid from 2019 and a sobering reminder of the devastating effect that COVID has had on members of our community. More than 15,000 artists received direct cash assistance from the Fund, with over 40,000 receiving aid of some type in the last year. Chairman of the Actors Fund Board Brian Stokes Mitchell reminded participants at last week's We Will Be Back event in Times Square that while the effects of the pandemic will be felt by most people for about 2 years from beginning to end, "[f]or people in show business and the performing arts, we think it’s probably likely to be closer to five years because shows have to get up and running. So many theaters have closed, regional theaters that just weren’t able to survive." The event also featured appearances from Broadway greats like Chita Rivera, André de Shields, and Matthew Broderick.

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Industry Responds to Anti-Asian Violence

In the aftermath of the Atlanta shooting spree that left eight dead last week, demonstrations across the nation called for an end to anti-Asian violence that has run rampant in the US as a result of racially-charged COVID rhetoric over the last year. KILLING EVE actress Sandra Oh made an appearance at a Stop Asian Hate protest on Saturday in Oakland, CA, thanking those who have supported the Asian-American community in recent days and calling on allies to step up and be part of the necessary change in the country: "I will challenge everyone here, if you see something, will you help me? If you see one of our sisters or brothers in need, will you help us?"

Hollywood has long remained silent about its depictions of members of the Asian community, time and again folding to stereotypical portrayals in TV and films while only recently greenlighting projects that feature authentic storytelling and representation from Asian creators. Comedy in particular has a muddy history of leaning heavily on toxic stereotypes to land a punchline, as Caroline Framke argues: "Whether or not the people cracking wise about Asians realize it, they’re helping to dehumanize an entire population for no reason other than their own instant gratification. And frankly, granting the benefit of the doubt of “whether they realize it or not” is probably far too generous considering the ample evidence of how many do, in fact, realize exactly what they’re doing." It's time for Hollywood to get real about the tiresome and dangerous images they are broadcasting of the Asian community, and begin the clean-up of racism in every corner of today's content.

Exclusivity Deals Challenged, Save Our Stages & NEA Receive Funding Boost

A new bill in the California legislature is seeking to free up exclusivity deals between actors and studios, in keeping with the rapidly-evolving TV landscape. Under the current system, studios can sign actors for up to two years and keep them on hold while they decide whether to move ahead with a series, preventing actors from seeking other work during that time. Bill author San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez says that change is necessary to keep up with the times: "No worker should ever be bound to an unreasonable contract that holds them back from making decisions about their own livelihood. It’s time we changed the law to reflect a new reality for creators."

The highly-celebrated Save Our Stages program has received a $1.25 billion funding increase from the recently-passed American Rescue Plan, bringing the total available amount up to $16.25 billion. The initiative allows organizations to apply for grants of up to $10 million to pay for rent, mortgage payments, payroll costs, and utilities, with a new provision allowing operators to apply for both SOS grants as well as PPP loans to bridge the gap between payouts. The Small Business Administration is set to open applications for grants through the Save Our Stages program beginning in April.

The National Endowment for the Arts also received some much-needed love from the ARP, with the legislation earmarking $135 million for the organization, another signal of the Biden administration's enthusiasm to prioritize arts funding in the US. Advocates continue to caucus over the idea of a dedicated arts advisor or office of the arts, as Americans for the Arts Action Fund's Nina Ozlu Tunceli believes would "help integrate the arts into a larger federal effort into what is appearing to be a new economy coming out of this pandemic." Proponents of establishing the position have already taken part in elements of Be An #ArtsHero's 100 Days of Art & Activism campaign over the last few months, which most recently teamed up with a group of political cartoonists to comment on the current state of artist relief in the country.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The continued expansion of the Marvel universe has allowed for the excavation of many new storylines, and the premiere of THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER has opened up the opportunity for the show's creators to give the MCU's Black characters an entirely new voice. Showrunner Malcolm Spellman noted that "[w]ith me there and with over half our writing staff being Black and with our Marvel exec in the room being Black," it was important to not shy away from the events of the last 12 months and take the time to acknowledge "Marvel’s two African American heroes on screen together." Spellman also spoke of his inspirations for the series storyline, sharing that comic books like TRUTH served as big influences for where the show is headed from here. MCU SPOILERS IN THE ARTICLE!

A five workshop master class series is currently in development from AMC Networks and the Alliance of Women Directors, aiming to demystify the behind-the-scenes approach to creating a "high octane" thriller and action content. The program will consist of workshops, seminars, and interviews with showrunners, directors, and heads of various departments inside and outside of the AMC family, with the goal of welcoming more female directors into the action space. "Working in both development and production respectively, we are exposed to a wide range of extremely talented women,"  Erica Robbins and Crystal Holt of AMC said in a joint statement. "Bringing some of these women together in a space to inspire and advise future talent allows them to showcase the knowledge they’ve gained while helping to grow the pool of amazing female directors."

Chuck Lorre's newest comedy UNITED STATES OF AL is receiving backlash after the series' first trailer shows Afghan lead character Awalmir ("AL") portrayed by non-Afghan actor Adhir Kalyan. Twitter was quick to point out the discrepancy in casting and lack of authenticity in storytelling, to which executive producer Reza Aslan responded in a series of tweets: "There are five Afghan characters in the show and four of them are played by Afghans. We saw 100 Afghan leads but sitcom is a specialized genre and it’s very tough to play. But we also have four Afghan writers/producers on the show who’ve done a great job helping Adhir... Because it's my show, I can make sure that it is written and produced by Afghans and Muslims. That it uses the format to reframe the perception that people have of both. That it portrays a Muslim Afghan protagonist in a true and honest light."

Wayne Brady's Quest to Lead with Improv

Legendary WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY star Wayne Brady is looking to translate his decades of improv experience into a new leadership training program to help coach C-suite execs and other organizational heads. "In order to do the 'yes and' of improv you have to actively listen. I don’t block you by saying 'Oh this is better, let's do it this way," Brady said in a recent podcast session with Variety's STRICTLY BUSINESS. The comedian is currently consolidating his plans to establish a consulting group that would teach the tenets of improv in a professional setting, as well as a school aimed at aiding young adults in underprivileged communities to prepare for adulthood. Brady credits his early involvement in the arts for his success throughout his career: "I want to start a school for teenagers to help take them into adulthood - you aren’t prepping them for a life on stage. You’re prepping them for life."

It Was A Drive-By Fruiting!

Not to be outdone by my love for THE LORD OF THE RINGS, I don't think I could go a day without quoting some obscure line from MRS. DOUBTFIRE. And apparently, there's been an R-RATED CUT OF THE FILM THE WHOLE TIME? THE WHOLE TIME?? Director Chris Columbus confirmed that there are three different versions of the film, one of which is a more adult language-laden cut that came about from master of improv Robin Williams' "anywhere from 15 to 22 takes" per scene. "The reality is that there was a deal between Robin and myself, which was, he’ll do one or two, three scripted takes. And then he would say, ‘Then let me play,’ Columbus recalled, noting that he would be open to creating a documentary on the making of the film that introduced some of the R-rated versions of the film's iconic scenes. Forget Zach Snyder's JUSTICE LEAGUE, we want the R-rated MRS. DOUBTFIRE 👵

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What to Watch & Read

That's all for this week, UTD Fam! Go out and enjoy some of that warm spring weather, and maybe watch MRS. DOUBTFIRE for the 100th time ☀️ Or is that just me? Bully 🍸

Peace and love ✌️

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

March 16, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

I don't know about you all, but I woke up yesterday with a refreshing burst of creative energy that I haven't really felt in weeks. It definitely came as a surprise only days after we hit the one year mark of Broadway's shutdown, but there are so many encouraging signs of life happening in New York, both in terms of the industry continuing to blossom as well as life in general just slowly starting to return to a new normal, and I have a renewed sense of optimism for the months ahead.

Take some time this week to set a few intentions for what you'd like to work on as we get further into the spring; I've been working on my vision board the past couple weeks, and it's been incredibly rewarding seeing what I'm hoping to get out of the upcoming year. Sending everyone a burst of creativity for this week!

Upcoming Workshops

Our busy March schedule keeps rolling! Join Annie and Abi for one of our FREE workshops to chat about the state of the industry and how to maximize your audition opportunities as projects continue to pop up:

Broadway: One Year Later

Impossible as it may seem, Friday marked one year since Broadway closed its doors for what was originally intended as a "few weeks" shutdown. The rest is, of course, history. We could all probably write our own books on how we've navigated the past year, what we've learned, and what we're most hopeful for in the year ahead. Take some time to read this in-depth feature from Deadline - aptly titled BEING ALIVE - that chronicles all sides of the shutdown and perfectly captures so much of the confusion, turmoil, misinformation, fear, uncertainty, and ultimately, the hope that each of us shares for the months to come.

More outlets have compiled accounts from various corners of the Broadway community, and they're all absolutely worth the read:

"At this point, we're thinking early fall, perhaps early September. That's the way things are pointing," Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin postulated for Broadway's reopening last week, though many producers seem to be hedging their bets on a more conservative winter timeline later in the year. It's a tall order for St. Martin, who has remained steadfast in her commitment to only allowing audiences to return to the theatre district when it is safe to do so. A handful of Broadway houses will reopen for select live events in early April as part of New York's NY PopsUp initiative, but it will still be some months before Broadway performers are donning their familiar wardrobes once more.  And which shows might we see raise their curtains first? "We believe that some of the longer-running shows may be first to come back because a lot of the cast has muscle memory." Already planning to snag my ticket to literally anything, whenever the box offices reopen. 🎟

For anyone based in New York, or who just has a lot of love for the city that never sleeps, I also recommend reading this incredible photo story from The New York Times' visual team. Bring some tissues 😢

And if you want to cry some more, check out the latest in Broadway star Rob McClure's "Conductor Cam" series - might as well bring the whole tissue box 🤧

Oscar Nominations 2021

The 2021 Academy Award nomination show started the week off strong yesterday morning with the unveiling of all the nominees for the 93rd annual award ceremony, presented by top-tier couple goals champs Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas from London. Leading the pack with 10 nominations this year was David Fincher's MANK, anchored by stellar performances from Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfriend, both of who received Best Actor/Actress nods as well. Chloé Zhao's NOMADLAND, a frequent frontrunner in this year's races, scored six nominations including Best Picture and Best Director, marking the first time a woman of color has been nominated and the first time two women received Best Director nods in the same year - the other going to PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN'S Emerald Fennell. Check out the full list of nominees here!

Also of note, Viola Davis has become the most-nominated black actress in Oscars history with her nomination this year for Best Actress in MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM.

COVID Reopening

The LA film and TV scene is starting to see encouraging signs of life this past month, reporting a 43.1% jump in on-location film permits from January to February. The spike made February the third-busiest month since June for LA's film permit office Film LA, pointing to a hopeful continued increase in production in the months ahead. "As new COVID-19 case counts diminish and more projects restart production, we are optimistic that the local film economy will soon be back on track," FilmLA president Paul Audley said.

Along with the rise in production film, LA movie theaters are rapidly reawakening and beginning to welcome visitors once again. Hoping to catch a flick in LA in the next few weeks? Check out this running list of which houses are back in business in and around the LA area! 🍿

Looking to up your mask game? Check out these iconic movie-themed masks and make a statement for your first return to theaters this year 😷🎬

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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Playbill is celebrating Women's History Month with a tribute to some of the most inspiring women on Broadway, past and present. Who inspires you on the stage? 🎭

A new study from McKinsey & Company is highlighting the financial and socio-economic impact that lax (or non-existent) diversity practices can have on the film industry at large. The report concluded that the $150 billion/year film industry could stand to gain an additional $10 billion in revenue by addressing inequities in race, both in front of and behind that camera. "Black-led projects have been consistently underfunded and undervalued even though there has been evidence that is clear as day that they outperform other properties when it comes to a return on their investment," Deadline reported. The study went on to illustrate the stagnation in Black behind-the-camera talent, sharing that Black directors, writers, and producers account for less than 6% of the field in Hollywood.

In the aftermath of George Floyd's murder and the resulting protests around the world, filmmaker Travon Free sought to make sense of the relentlessness of the summer's news cycle with his new 30-minute short film TWO DISTANT STRANGERS. "Once I was looking at it on the page, it felt right, it felt like this is what this story wants to be." The story follows a Black man on his way home from a date's apartment and an ensuing GROUNDHOG DAY-style recap of an interaction with a police officer gone bad. "I knew from the beginning there’s no way to end this movie that buttons up the reality of what we live in. There are no solutions to this problem in the real world that anyone has actually thought of that works, so I can’t present one in this movie," Free said of the film, which received a Best Live Action Short Film nod at yesterday's Oscar nomination show.

THE BOOK OF MORMON's creative team is set to revisit the show's dialogue in a line-by-line review in the coming weeks, after a private letter sent by 20 current and former Black Broadway cast members called on creators Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez to reevaluate some of the language in the script. The potential outcome seems to be setting up a mixed bag, as half of the SOUTH PARK writing pair Stone remarked that he "can't imagine trying to make a politically correct Book Of Mormon," though adding that "[n]o one is going back on stage until they feel great about" the show's racially-pointed content.

Broadway theater group The Shubert Organization has created a new initiative aimed at supporting early-to-mid career BIPOC theatrical producers that are currently developing projects. The Artistic Circle will offer a host of educational resources and networking opportunities, from workshops to providing performance space, as well as financial assistance tailored to the individual project needs. Producers interested in applying for the program can send in their materials by April 9th!

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New Year, New Stimulus: Renewed Hope for Arts Sector

The latest round of stimulus legislation was officially signed into law last week, with many in the entertainment industry hailing the move as a financial saving grace across the board. Provisions of the bill include $1,400 stimulus payments that have already begun distribution, as well as extended $300/week federal unemployment benefits with a tax break on the first $10,200 in benefits, child tax breaks, and partially subsidized COBRA healthcare benefits, a major victory from the various actor unions after months of advocacy in Washington. "Though the passage of President Biden's American Rescue Plan is set to help millions of arts workers currently struggling to make ends meet and bolstering unemployment and healthcare aid, arts organizations at-large are still facing an uphill battle between now and a full reopening later in the year. A group of NY businesses has come together with a "Proposal to Revive And Rebuild The New York State Creative Economy", calling on state legislators to fund additional relief and recovery grants for the ailing arts sector, as well as tax incentives and an initiative to provide direct relief to artists and encourage contract employees to return to the state. With New York on track to receive around $12 billion in federal relief funds from the newly passed federal relief bill, the group hopes to earmark a portion of these funds to expand relief for arts sector players, specifically those who may not have been covered by funds from the Save Our Stages Act in December or the most recent relief package. Sign the petition today!

This newest round of stimulus has reinvigorated talks about adding an arts-focused cabinet position to President Biden's cohort, an intermittent topic of discussion among arts leaders over the past few decades that ebbs and flows but has never received much in the way of Oval Office support. A new push for the creation of a Department of Arts and Culture that would centralize all arts administration under one government silo has received traction from arts workers across the board, advocating President Biden to consider developing the position during his term: "Nothing short of a bold move will save the American arts sector and bring it not only back to life but give it new meaning in a new age, an age dedicated to economic and social justice under your leadership."

Advice, Submissions & Classes

Are you keeping all your virtual accounts in tip-top shape as the industry starts to reopen? Actors Connection has your checklist curated and covered! (And peak a familiar face on there too 😉)

Filmmaking savant Guillermo del Toro is sharing his thoughts on this year's Oscar race, and touting high praise for Thomas Vinterberg's ANOTHER ROUND, which secured nominations for Best International Feature Film and Best Director yesterday for this year's Academy Awards. The film's star and residential good-bad guy Mads Mikkelsen chatted about his approach to creating a believable drunk character, around which most of the film is centered: "I tried to do it in a way that it doesn’t come across. You’re hiding that you’re drunk. That’s the rule for all actors. Focus, focus, walk a little more stiffly, you talk a little more slower, and that gives you away."

SUBMISSION: Off The Lane, an NYC-based artist development and empowerment program, is set to award a $5,000 scholarship to a young dancer looking to move to the Big Apple, in memory of dance legend Ann Reinking. "Like so many young dancers coming to New York, [Ann] struggled to find a foothold in a strange city," Reinking's husband Peter Talbert said. "Short of money and friends, Annie persevered and found her way forward, thanks to some helping hands. This program will offer others following in her footsteps that helping hand, to ensure that they can succeed in their desire to make their dream come true. That’s a legacy worthy of her name and reputation.” Thinking of moving to NYC in the next year? Mark your calendar to apply in May!

BEETLEJUICE's Dana Steingold and WICKED's Brittney Johnson are both set to host their own segments for BroadwayWorld's Stage Door Masterclass series this April. Attendees will be given the chance to sing for and receive feedback from the Broadway stars. Limited slots are available for both classes, sign up today!

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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Quick Bites

I think we know by now that I can't resist some solid LORD OF THE RINGS news. Andy Serkis, who lent his motion-capture talents to create the formidable and always creepy role of Gollum for the series recently shared that he used to walk on all fours during the production to help get him into character: "It’s fair to say that’s a pretty method."

Who doesn't love a good "Jake from State Farm" reference? The now-10-year-old commercial character (how was that 10 years ago already..?) is continuing to be studied by the ever-evolving ad industry, which has experienced a paradigm shift from typical spokespeople to the relatable every man in recent years. And yet, Jake has endured, from the original 2011 khaki-wearer - an actual State Farm employee from Illinois - to actor Kevin Miles, and agencies are taking notice.

Residential Broadway everyman Seth Rudetsky dropped a handful of insightful stories and behind-the-curtain tales for his birthday last week on his YouTube series STARS IN THE HOUSE, hearing from legends like Chita Rivera, Andrea Martin, and Eva Noblezada. Take a peek! 👀

Want to read about a gorgeous Brooklyn theater of days gone by? I honestly learned so much from this article; I never knew that downtown Brooklyn had a bustling theater district WAY back when, and the pictures of the Fox Theater rival the beauty of anything near 42nd Street today. A Tuesday history lesson for all of us 🤓

What to Watch & Read

That's all for this week, UTD! We hope to see you at this week's workshop with Ripley-Grier Studios, join us this Thursday at 6 PM EST to chat about booking TV and Film work in 2021!

Get out there and get some sunshine this week ☀️

Peace and love ✌️

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

March 9, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

How's everyone holding up? Ready for some sunny spring weather? I know I certainly am. It feels like the industry is just about ready to burst with new opportunities popping up at every turn, and it's equal parts exciting and daunting to stay on top of. Luckily, UTD is here to keep everything in check for you 💯 Now is a great time to make sure that you've updated your demographics and skills sections to ensure that the projects you're seeing in your searches on UTD Actor best reflect what you currently offer. Did you pick up a new instrument during the past year? Start working on learning a new accent or language? There's most likely a project out there waiting for you to show off your fresh skills!

We still have a few events coming up in the next few weeks, so make sure you mark your calendars now to sit in on one of our virtual workshops and learn how to make UTD work for you this spring!

Upcoming Workshops

Join Abigail Hardin (creator of the Up-To-Date Actor) and Annie Chadwick (career coach and founder of Up-To-Date Theatricals) at one of their upcoming workshops. Click on each link for more info!

Women's History Month

We're so excited to celebrate Women's History Month throughout March, raising the voices of the scores of women that continue to make our industry an exciting, diverse, authentic landscape that continues to push for further inclusivity and genuine representation. 2020 has been a year like no other, and with it has come a slew of remarkable women that are breaking barriers in entertainment across the globe. Variety has compiled their annual International Women's Impact Report for the last year - take some time to read about this year's honorees!

Lauded journalism and women's rights activist Gloria Steinem took aim at the current state of female representation at large, and the long winding road of work still ahead: "Change is slow. Like a tree, it grows from the bottom up, and we still have a long way to go. But we just need to keep going and to celebrate how far we’ve come."

Streamers and other networks are pooling their content for the month and featuring dozens of women-made and/or women-led projects, with companies like Hulu launching new sections of their platform dedicated to spotlighting female driven shows and movies that have been awarded for their gender-balanced production processes. Check out this extensive list of offerings from a handful of on-demand and cable networks from Variety!

Netflix Head of Global TV, Bela Bajaria, has announced that the first $5 million of the company's new $20 million Creative Equity Fund will go toward programs and initiatives around the world that help to foster and uplift women in the entertainment space. The money will be spread out through third parties and Netflix-affiliate programs, creating "workshops to train aspiring women writers and producers on how best to pitch their creative vision" and "shadowing opportunities on productions which enable women to gain valuable first hand experience with a literal seat at the table," Bajaria wrote in a blog post. "Experience has taught me that great stories are universal: they can come from anywhere, be created by anyone, and be loved by everyone – what matters is that they are told authentically. Now we need to ensure that traditionally disadvantaged voices – in this case women – get the same chances to be heard in our industry as men have been for generations."

More articles:

International Women's Day: Female-Centered Content Coming in 2021

Women’s History Month: Events & Programs To Watch For During March

Melissa Errico, Ann Harada and More to Headline New York Theatre Barn's Women In Theatre Roundtable

Award Season Updates

Oscars and SAGs and Writers Guild, oh my! This year's award show nominee fields are continuing to expand and diversify, and it's been such an exciting race to watch. Here are the latest updates from some of the biggest names:

Writers Guild Awards (March 21st) - The WGA East will be holding their annual "And the Nominees Are..." Panels throughout the day tomorrow via a joint livestream with Variety, which presents an exciting opportunity to hear from over a dozen nominated film and television writers from this year's field, including folks working on THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT, MRS. AMERICA, FULL FRONTAL WITH SAMANTHA BEE, and more!

SAG Awards (April 4th) - Another joint film and TV award show, reception of the SAG Awards outcomes has become a mixed bag in recent years, though with the strength and diversity of many of this year's categories, analysts are predicting a close race between newcomer favorites like LOVECRAFT COUNTRY and BRIDGERTON versus more established names like BETTER CALL SAUL and OZARK.

Academy Awards (April 25th) - Voting for the 93rd Academy Awards opened up last Friday, with nominees expected to be announced next Monday. Because of the Academy's modified rules for this year's nominees, over 223 of the 366 films up for nomination have been submitted as Best Picture contenders, leaving many Oscar voters with the daunting task of viewing as many submissions as possible in just a few months' time. One exciting development has come in the form of a notable uptick in Latinx content and nominee hopefuls in the running this year, adding to the overall increase in diversity that the Academy has been sorely lacking up until this point.

The 26th annual Critics Choice Awards crowned their winners last night, with NOMADLAND once again snagging Best Picture and Best Director, along with Best Adapted Screenplay. Daniel Kaluuya, John Boyega, and Chadwick Boseman all repeated their Golden Globes wins in their respective categories. On the TV side, SCHITT'S CREEK continued its run with Dan Levy and Catherine O'Hara taking home prizes for their acting, and TED LASSO winning Best Comedy.

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts presented their International Awards ceremony last week, where Carey Mulligan's PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN took home top honors with a Best Picture coronation and Mulligan receiving Best Lead Actress in Film as well. NOMADLAND's Chloé Zhao and THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 continued their award season momentum with Best Director and Best Screenplay wins, respectively, making Zhao the first woman to receive the AACTA International Best Direction in Film honor.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The Television Academy is continuing to do its part in analyzing its current diversity and inclusion practices with the hiring of ReadySet, an organization dedicated to restructuring companies' leadership and representation practices. "We believe the Television Academy is uniquely positioned to drive impactful change across the industry," ReadySet CEO Y-Vonne Hutchinson said. The initiative will kick off with a series of staff and membership surveys to identify key issue areas and opportunities for expansion and improvement within the Academy. "Now, more than ever, we believe we must increase visibility, equity, and power for those marginalized and underrepresented in our industry," Television Academy chairman Frank Scherma noted.

Time's Up CEO, Tina Tchen, < style='color: orange;' target='_blank' href='https://uptodateactor.com/news/article.php?link=2fdae&email=Yes'>has already shared her thoughts on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's recent statement on the steps it will be taking to enact change among its ranks: "On behalf of the many artists who look to us to hold the HFPA's feet to the fire on the racism, disrespect, misogyny, and alleged corrupt financial dealings of the Golden Globes, we need to see specific details, timetables for change, and firm commitments." Execs from both groups met last week to discuss the type of change Time's Up expects to see from the Globes governing body, and their message is simple and straight-forward: "The right words are not enough. The clock is ticking."

The latest research from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found that Black women and girls have been making notable onscreen gains over the past few years, while uncovering deeper issues of colorism that persist in the fight for true representation. The report found that 6.1% of all characters in 2019 family films were Black girls/women, inching closer to the current figure of Black women making up 6.5% of the U.S. population. It was determined that there was still little movement in the way of darker-skinned female characters, as 80% of the characters were found to have light or medium skin tones. "This revealing new study shows we need to be more aware of the persistence of stereotypes affecting Black girls and women — and avoid repeating those mistakes when making writing, casting, and other content production decisions," actress and institute founder Geena David wrote.

HBO Max breakout star LOVECRAFT COUNTRY has been making waves as a major player in the sci-fi space since its first season debut last fall, and with Michael K. Williams' win at Sunday night's Critics Choice for Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series momentum is still growing. Williams is excited to see what LOVECRAFT means for the future of Black-led content. "What I mostly hope is that youth, particularly youth from my community who watch this, get a sense of the legacy which we come from. The greatness and all the obstacles that we’ve overcome to be alive today." The show has also found itself under scrutiny over the past week after a viral TikTok showed an extra on the show receiving skin-darkening make-up from the production team, which HBO quickly condemned and promised to "ensure this doesn’t occur again in the future."

A handful of UK talent agents are coming together to fight race issues faced by British actors looking for jobs and opportunities in the country. The group is part of the Personal Managers' Association (PMA), representing over 180 member agencies, including some of the UK's top companies like Curtis Brown and 42 Management and Identity Agency Group. "We are putting ourselves in the arena to raise awareness for actors on race and want to take on the challenge to create real change," the group shared in a joint statement.

The Return of the Big Screen 🍿

The movie theater landscape in New York City has finally emerged from its long COVID slumber, with all houses in the city opening at 25% capacity last Friday and many reporting selling out by showtime. Weekend estimates showed a 525% surge in viewership in the NYC area compared to the weekend prior, reporting $744K in revenue from 83 sites in and around the metropolitan area. Some theaters are continuing to take added precautions to keep people safe, as the IFC Center in Greenwich Village opted to not serve concessions until they get a better feel for audiences' level of comfortability with returning to the theater for the first time in almost a year.

It's no surprise that studios and theater owners alike were excited to see doors open to audiences once again, even at 25% capacity. "New York is the media capital of the world, and you can’t truly launch a blockbuster without the cultural buzz that comes out of this city," IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond mused. Media personalities and politicians shared their thoughts on the reopening on Twitter, with former presidential and currently NYC mayoral candidate Andrew Yang tweeting a pic of him with a ticket for viewing later that day, in an effort to inject some faith and goodwill in the safety of returning to the theater.

The reopening also spells good news for top theater execs as well: AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron spoke about the theater group's wild year navigating COVID and the recent "Reddit rally" enjoyed by the company's stock offerings back in January. "The way I’ve lived since last March, when we went from having $5.5 billion in annual revenue to having no revenue at all, long-term planning for me has been a week from Thursday," Aron quipped, which became quickly ironic after the company confirmed the CEO still took home $21 million in compensation and stock options in 2020, more than doubling his $9.7 million package from the company in 2019.

Not all theater groups have enjoyed the heightened success that AMC has: Alamo Drafthouse announced plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, forcing them to shutter several of their locations nationwide in an effort to reorganize and hopefully stave off a full company shutdown in the coming months. The companies are continuing to fight with studios to secure more lucrative exhibition terms for upcoming releases, as theaters are now entering into a new era of competition with streaming platforms hosting fresh releases either simultaneously or even before the offerings land in movie theaters.

More articles:

‘Raya And The Last Dragon’ Opening To $8M+ As Pic Hits Disney+ & NYC Reopens

Movie Theater Operator Marcus Corp. Posts Dim Q4 Results, But Execs Anticipate A "Real Summer Season"

Streaming Services Rebound Faster than Cable

COVID has undoubtedly thrown a wrench in the works for every facet of the entertainment industry, but it has become increasingly clear in the past few months that streamer content is poised for a swifter, grander revitalizing in a post-COVID world than its linear counterparts. Streamers saw a 38% jump in development deals in the last few months of 2020, while cable offerings were down 42% for the previous year. It's no surprise that as more companies launch their own streamers and creating their own content, the competition continues to heat up and diversify, but with the international availability of many streamers' offerings consistently on the rise, many analysts are left wondering what the future of commissioned works in the streamer vs linear space may look like.

TV upfronts - the process of media companies hashing out ad time for their next year of shows - have undergone a similar reckoning over the last year, mainly spurred on by the desire for many companies to delay their ad funding in 2020 due to the pandemic. As the new upfront season approaches in May, ad execs are looking to shift their focus to maintaining their relevance and revenues in an increasingly streamer-friendly world. "We are looking for where our targets for our advertisers are consuming content and what is the most effective and efficient way to reach them," independent media-buying agency head David Campanelli stated. "You are really buying across the portfolio and not just what the big shows are going to be in primetime."

I feel like I'm saying this phrase just about every month now - "the most recent newcomer to the streaming space" - Paramount+ is holding out on high hopes to keep CBS afloat in the streaming wars in 2021. The company's rebrand of their 2014 CBS All-Access app, which proved to be a stagnant non-competitor in the arena, will now be home to a host of new content geared toward both children and adults, a move that CBS execs hope will bump the fledgling service to the head of the pack in the months to come. The current slate at Paramount+ is promising: Spongebob spin-off KAMP KORAL, a FRASIER reboot, a new series based on Nick's AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER, a revamped 60 MINUTES; though promising, many of Paramount's new titles are only in the earliest stages of development. Will the streamer "Chop to the Top", or go the way of Quibi? Only time will tell. ⏰

NYC Reopening Program Hits AEA Roadblock, Statewide 'NY PopsUp' Approved 

Actors' Equity has informed its members that New York City's upcoming Open Culture program falls short of the union's pay and safety guidelines, and is warning members to get more information and contact their representatives before accepting any contracts. On a broader scale, AEA has fully embraced the statewide NY PopsUp program, which worked with the union to ensure equitable wages and fulfill its safety requirements for its members. The Open Culture program "does not require proof that producers pay any wage at all – while explicitly permitting ticket sales and collecting donations," AEA executive director Mary McColl writes. The union says they will continue to push Mayor Bill de Blasio's office to enact these changes before they throw their support behind the initiative.

Several Broadway theaters will begin opening their doors to audiences for the first time in over a year beginning in April. While we'll still have to wait a few more months to catch a Broadway show, New York's NY PopsUp program will be commandeering the Music Box, along with other NYC mainstays like the Apollo Theatre, St. Ann's Warehouse, and Harlem Stage to host PopsUp programming in the coming months. Several events have already begun to circulate through the city, including a series of dance performances that are being hosted by the Brooklyn, Queens, and Bronx Museums and impromptu street performances from famous Broadway names. Let the arts revival commence!

New York's arts sector will also receive an influx of $40 million in funding over the next year, with the announcement that 1,225 arts and cultural organizations would be receiving varying levels of grants to help get them back on their feet in the wake of the pandemic. The priority of the funding from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) in historically underrepresented communities, as well as small and medium-sized groups in the state.

Currently Casting

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Quick Bites

SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITY: Arts organization Off The Lane will be offering a $5,000 grant to young dancers looking to move to New York City, in honor of late Broadway great Ann Reinking. The scholarship will be open to dancers across all disciplines, with applications beginning in May and the winner announced in September.

Lithuania has been enjoying a boom in film and TV production since the introduction of its robust 30% tax credit in 2014, and the Baltic country sees the oncoming post-COVID production boom as a source of major economic growth in the coming years: "[W]e are trying to push the ceiling up and up and put us even more on the map."

Beth Harmon’s next opening has been decided: Level Forward has acquired of the stage rights to the Netflix smash hit THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT for musical development. No word on any production plans for the musical at the moment, but I’ll be waiting patiently to make my first Opening (K)night joke when the time comes ♟

Any BRIDGERTON fans are most likely well acquainted with Vitamin String Quartet, the group responsible for the energetic string arrangements of top songs from artists like Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish. The L.A.-based collective has enjoyed a 350% increase in streams since the series' premiere, sitting atop iTunes' soundtrack charts for six consecutive weeks.

March 2, 2021

Happy March, UTD!

Wasn't it just March like a month ago? What year is it? Buehler?

It's blowing my mind that we're coming up on a year of lockdown, though the industry was certainly bustling this week, so fingers and toes crossed that things continue to trend upward and that more good news is on the horizon. Be sure to check out the details on our upcoming workshops this month, we have a handful of events that we can't wait to see you at!

Upcoming Workshops

March is shaping up to be our busiest month of 2021 yet! Be on the lookout on our social media for more information and reminders, but here is the schedule as it stands now:

Golden Globes 2021 Recap

With the 78th annual Golden Globes in the books, award season is officially in full swing 🏆 Check out the full list of winners from last night's virtual event!

I really loved how they went about broadcasting this year's show, particularly that all the nominees were able to spend the night with their families in their own living rooms around the world. I mean, seeing Mark Ruffalo's kids draped over his shoulder as he talked about the importance of fighting climate change from his couch - what's not to love? Big fan of the Zoom sessions with the doctors and actors too. Yay first responders! 🩺 Technological blips and awkward pauses aside, I'm remaining hopeful that last night's event is a positive sign for the remainder of this year's awards show broadcasts.

The organization behind last night's soiree, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, came under fire last week for its overwhelmingly white membership, as many - including Amy Poehler and Tina Fey in their opening monologue - were quick to point out that while countless other film groups were making strides toward a more inclusive environment, the 87 member HFPA does not contain a single Black journalist. GREY'S ANATOMY star Ellen Pompeo shared a raw indictment of white Hollywood with an open letter to the HFPA on her Instagram, remarking that we cannot "leave this problem up to the Black community and all our communities of color to fix. It is not their problem, it's ours."

A quick glance at this year's nominees - leaving out several critically-acclaimed, Black-led projects like I MAY DESTROY YOU - is an easy demonstration of the effects of the white-dominated HFPA. "We understand that we need to bring in Black members, as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible," the group wrote in a statement. Several members of the HFPA took responsibility on behalf of the organization Sunday night to say that they will be evaluating and making internal changes, after processing the backlash from the community in the past few weeks.

Awards & Festivals

While Oscars night is still a far-off thought for the end of April, the Academy released its list of films that will be eligible to receive Best Picture nominations for this year's ceremony. As part of its Aperture 2025 initiative to boost inclusivity among Best Picture nominees, the Academy has already begun laying the foundation for films to keep record of the representation standards in any project seeking consideration for next year's Oscars. A new, confidential "Academy Inclusion Standards form" will be required from any producers who submit their films for contention in 2022 and 2023, with the full program implementation beginning in 2024. Not much is known about the contents of this form at the moment, but its existence is already serving as a call to action for companies to prioritize diversifying their casts and crew in the next year of filmmaking.

The Producers Guild of America continued their tiered roll-out of nominations with the announcement of their specialty categories, which covers Sports, Children’s, and Short-Form programming. Top names include content like ANIMANIACS, CARPOOL KARAOKE, and THE SHOP.

SXSW shared the final section of keynote speakers for this year's film festival, set to stream virtually March 16-20th. Pete Buttigieg, Priya Parker, and Charles Yu will join an already packed lineup with names like Ava DuVeray, former president George W. Bush, Kenan Thompson, and Chance the Rapper, among dozens of others in the festival's online events and workshops.

Industry Responds to Uptick in Anti-Asian American Violence

In light of the recent trend in violence against the Asian-American community during the pandemic, fomented by the continuously incendiary remarks of the former president over the last year, members of the entertainment community are coming together to condemn these hateful acts and empower cultural organizations to protect Asian-American Pacific Islanders around the US.

The 29th annual Empathy Concert, which took place last evening, centered around empowering and supporting the Asian Broadway community in the face of these racist acts, featuring performances from Eva Noblezada, Raymond J. Lee, and David Henry Hwang.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

QUEEN SUGAR showrunner Anthony Sparks penned an op-ed last week about Vogue's embattled cover photo of Vice President Kamala Harris in jeans and sneakers. "I believe Black history is America’s under-acknowledged superpower. It is our north star that bends us towards greater justice for all," Sparks opines, sharing his own stories of encountering discrimination in his early days in Hollywood, and how it continues to inform the work he does today.

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio met with members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma to discuss the historical accuracy and representation of Scorsese's upcoming film KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON. Scorsese presented an overview of the film to a handful of Osage organizers to discuss its themes, portrayals, and representation of the Osage people during that time period.

SIMPSONS showrunners are finally handing over the role of Dr. Julius Hibbert to a Black actor, after having the character voiced by Harry Shearer for over 30 years. Kevin Michael Richardson's first episode as Dr. Hibbert aired Sunday night, joining the long-overdue recasting of characters like Carl and Apu in the series.

Female directors and directors of color saw an encouraging increase in TV director credits this past year, with the Directors Guild of America reporting that women-helmed offerings accounted for 34% of episodes in 2018-2019, and 32% directed by people of color. The study scanned over 4,300 episodes of TV during the year, highlighting the slow but steady growth in representation behind the camera in television. Numbers for Latinx and Asian-American women continue to stagnate, signaling the continued need for full diversification through directing pipelines in the coming years.

Nickelodeon has made it a point to fill its writing and artist programs with emerging talent from underrepresented communities, and the results couldn't be more promising. Both programs boast an 85%+ hire rate upon completion of the program, landing writers in positions throughout the Nick pipeline, as well as openings at HBO, DreamWorks, Netflix, and more.

The stars of RECLAIMING HISTORY: OUR NATIVE DAUGHTERS, a new Smithsonian Channel documentary born out of a folk band of the same name, are making names for themselves with their heritage and their music. The four-member group spoke about their experiences with banjo music, being nominated for a Grammy, and how their commitment to authenticity has perfectly lent itself to a unique blend of musical storytelling and representation.

Several Black comedians discussed the unique experiences they've had in balancing the expectation of making people laugh with talking about causes that matter to them. "I think it’s important for us to be able to say things that are really true to our audience and our people, like Black Lives Matter and those issues — at least give it a shot," Cedric the Entertainer said during a Television Academy event.

Other Articles of Note:

COVID Updates

Unemployment numbers among arts workers in NYC have continued to stagnate, as a new report from the city detailed how employment tumbled a record 66% between December of 2019 and 2020, with very little recovery up to this point. "This sector is the only major employment sector in New York City that remains below half of its pre-pandemic employment levels," the report concluded, underscoring the immense importance that any and all upcoming unemployment and grant legislation will carry in the community.

Lincoln Center has its eyes set on a spring arts and cultural bloom, announcing a new lineup of outdoor performance venues that will open in April. "The cultural community has an urgent role to play in the revitalization of New York, to showcase that our city is not just back economically, but spiritually and socially," said Henry Timms, president, and CEO of the theatre group. The current plan involves 10 outdoor spaces spread across the city, which will host dozens of performances and workshops, the first of which will be a kick-off event for city healthcare workers to celebrate World Health Day on April 7th.

Stream Me Up, Scotty

CBS All Access will soon have an updated look and new name. Paramount+, set to launch on Thursday, will take the place of the plateaued All Access streamer, becoming the new, international home to hundreds of ViacomCBS offerings, as well as planned future exclusive content. Two price tiers will be offered in the coming months: A $5.99/month ad-supported level, which will switch to $4.99/month in June, as well as the premium, ad-free level at $9.99/month. Analysts remain skeptical of Paramount becoming the latest entrant into the streaming race, pointing to a flaccid performance by CBS All Access as a negative indicator of what may lie ahead. "This is a ViacomCBS re-imagined for a new kind of marketplace and a new kind of consumer," chair of ViacomCBS Shari Redstone said in a teleconference.

Marching Into Politics

A host of entertainment unions and organizations came together to once again call upon President Biden to keep fighting for out-of-work members of the film and TV communities when appointing cabinet members and other committee heads. The missive also brought to attention the ongoing piracy issue that has only continued to grow during the pandemic, as many turn to internet viewing to catch the latest projects.

Industry Intel: Insights from the Pros

At 98, Norman Lear has seen and done it all. The award-winning producer added to his trophy shelf last night with his acceptance of the Carol Burnett  Award for Lifetime Achievement, memorializing his decades of contributions to furthering conversations and pushing the boundaries with what was possible on TV. Lear recently spoke with Variety about what's been keeping him busy during COVID, and what's up next for the enterprising near-centenarian.

You may know Frank Langella from any number of things: FROST/NIXON, STAR TREK, or his newest project: THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7. The 83-year-old actor has been quietly working in dozens of film, TV and theater productions for over 50 years, and believes the secret to his success is simple: "I play my strong suit and try to disappear."

I'm not ashamed to say that one of my quarantine guilty pleasures has been the British classic AS TIME GOES BY. Something about the dry, snappy wit and sleepy theme song has been just what I've needed in these past few dreary weeks of February. Series star Dame Judi Dench recently spoke at a Vision Foundation seminar about her struggle with losing her vision, along with actors Stephen Fry and Hayley Mills. "You find a way of just getting about and getting over the things that you find very difficult."

Newly-minted Freeform network president Tara Duncan is making it a point to bring the Gen Z and millennial experience to the forefront of programming this year.

Producer Gary Foster is proposing a new set of protocols to combat abusive behaviors on-set. In a guest column for Deadline, Foster shared his experiences navigating his first producing role, and the mountain of interpersonal issues that outlined one of the most impactful and educational experiences he's ever had.

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

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TV

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Quick Bites

Amy Poehler is remaining cautiously optimistic about the future of Upright Citizens Brigade, though acknowledges that the road ahead remains long and tedious. The group's co-founder shared that the current plan is to restructure the programming and change the organization into a non-profit: "We're basically using the fire of Covid to start some new version... Whether or not we'll be able to get there, I don't know."

Despite a leveling out of the recent downward trend of COVID over the last week, movie theater execs are crossing their fingers for March reopenings in LA and NYC as a sign of good things to come for the summer box office: "We’re optimistic that we’re going to be able to light up these theaters again come this summer."

Longtime NYC casting mainstay Calleri Casting has been renamed to Calleri Jensen Davis, in an effort to highlight the shared responsibilities of James Calleri, Erica Jensen, and Paul Davis in the agency. Jensen will take the lead on developing projects with BIPOC artists at the forefront: "As a Black business owner, and one of the few BIPOC casting directors in New York, this is a conversation I’ve been involved in for a long time."

Watch, Read & Listen

Thanks for sticking with me on this one, UTDers! Lots of news to start a new month 🤓 Don't forget to check out the details on all of our upcoming workshops, and please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about them. We'll keep our social media bumping with reminders throughout the month, as well as any updates and new workshops as they pop up.

Have a great week!

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

February 23, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

Another week, another winter storm here in NYC. I hope you and your family were safe during the last arctic wave that crippled so much of the country. Here in NYC, it's been too much rain for my liking in this one, but at least it's an excuse to make another NYT crockpot recipe and curl up with my ever-growing stack of plays I've been endeavoring to read in 2021. Gotta keep your brain moving somehow. 🧠

If you haven't already, we would really appreciate you taking 60 seconds (yes, really just 60 seconds) to fill out our Workshop Feedback form. We're continuing to build out our programming for the next few months, both with partner companies and planning for our social media, and hearing from the UTD community will help ensure our line-up is top-notch!

...Did you fill out the form? Trusting you here... 👀

Let's talk news!

Upcoming Workshops

March is quickly approaching, and our event lineup is growing! Check out the details for our next few events at Actors Launchpad & Ripley-Grier and get registered today!

COVID Updates

Despite COVID (or any other plague, for that matter), the theatre has and always will find a way. The advent of the virtual world has made theatre accessible like never before, and the boom in creative productions continues to impress me with each passing week. Check out this newest crop of mixed media presentations!

Five NYC theatre companies have been announced as the recipients of 59E59 Theaters and The Elysabeth Kleinhans Theatrical Foundation COVID relief grants. New Light Theater Project, PlayCo, Less Than Rent, Noor Theatre Company, and Hypokrit Theater Company all received funds ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 to support the creation and development of new work that celebrates BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ voices and stories. "We wanted to give substantial financial support to theatre companies, allowing them to continue their impactful work with perpetually underfunded artists," 59E59 artistic director Val Day wrote in a statement.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS made their mark in the community over the past week by providing an astonishing $2.45 million in grants to 131 meal delivery and foodservice programs across 37 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, ensuring that members of this community currently fighting HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 or other illnesses have access to healthy foods. "A decent meal can be the first line of defense, the road back to health and recovery," wrote Broadway Cares Executive Director Tom Viola. "These grants underscore our community’s commitment to shining a bright spotlight on those in need, even on our country’s darkest days."

The Peoples Improv Theater in NYC has become the latest comedy house to be dealt a massive blow, announcing last week that it would be vacating its home on E 24th street after 9+ years. Originally founded in 1995, the PIT has been a mainstay in the New York improv scene and was one of the last holdouts after the COVID comedy washout claimed the remaining UCB locations over the last year. The group will still maintain its two satellite locations - The PIT LOFT and Pioneers - for the time being, but founder Ali Reza Farahnakian kept modest in her expectations for the club's future, noting that "tomorrow is promised to no one during a once-in-a-century global pandemic."

Some more encouraging news came on the Chicago improv circuit with the news that Second City had been acquired by private equity firm ZMC, helmed by media mogul Strauss Zelnick. Second City has seen scores of comedy greats pass through its doors since its founding in 1959, serving as a pipeline to SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and comedy clubs around the world for a laundry list of A-listers from the last 60 years.

Theatre will return, that much we know to be true. When, where, and how seems to be the question of the year, and perhaps even the decade, as our once-hopeful view of a new Roaring '20s has been all but stifled since March of last year. Many groups around the country, but particularly in New York, are staring down the possibility of another year with more days of Broadway marquees dark and unlit, as the growing consensus seems to be zeroing in on a fall reopening timeline. In the meantime, Off and Off-Off-Broadway houses are remaining hopeful that, with the help of government support and updated guidelines, a modified theatre experience may be achievable before crowds flock back to the bright lights of 42nd Street. I found a lot of this article to be quietly exciting, but the first line really got me in my feels: "Rest assured: Before too long there will be countless theatre reopening stories to tell." I await that day with cautiously optimistic bliss. 🤞

For the Good of the Union

The advent of streaming has affected just about every facet of the entertainment industry, and acting unions are quickly approaching a crossroads of how to update and future-proof contracts for its members that establish a best-case scenario for the years of virtual content to come. SAG-AFTRA and AFL-CIO held their 3rd annual Labor Innovation & Technology Summit last Friday, tackling some of the biggest issues that performers are facing in today's rapidly digitizing environment. In her presentation, SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris, called out the role of large media companies in "exploiting technology to either change or blatantly ignore, the fundamental pillars that have been built over decades of collective bargaining to ensure that workers shared in the financial bounty that they create." With more technology comes more demand from actors and stunt performers, as SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White argues; "It means that people are doing more when they work. And it also means that compensation is changing, and in many ways, without the countervailing forces of the union, people are being paid less."

SAG-AFTRA has released the full details of its new Influencers' Agreement, opening the door for content creators and influencers working with sponsored content to join the union in the same way that traditional commercial actors have gained membership in the past. The rules and restrictions are much broader than other contracts, in order to off-set the typically wide range of usage that social content demands.

Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) have breathed new life into the ongoing call for healthcare support for actors by introducing a bill that would expand upon the ACC and Medicare by creating a new public health insurance option. If passed, the legislation would tap into the Medicare network of health care providers to offer a low-cost option to between 2 and 6 million Americans. "Theatre has now been virtually shut down for nearly a year, and thousands of actors and stage managers have lost their health insurance without being able to work," AEA national director of communications and public policy Brandon Lorenz wrote. "We are grateful for the leadership of Senators Bennett and Kaine on this issue."

International Edition 🇬🇧 🇦🇺 🇨🇳

Actors in the UK feel as though they are being left out to dry in the aftermath of Brexit last year, as British officials were unable to reach a deal with the European Union to ensure visa-free travel throughout Europe for workers in the arts and creative industries. "What you have to recognize, particularly with recorded media, is how short the turnaround times are," Paul W Fleming, general secretary of Equity, wrote in a statement. Fleming reprimanded the government's fixation on the £784 million UK fishing industry, easily dwarfed by the £112 billion film, TV, and music sector that received little recognition in Brexit talks. "The people who lose out are not those working on the multi-million-pound blockbusters. It is going to be the ordinary working members of Equity, who land a small part in a Netflix series."

Speaking of the UK, are you a US actor interested in working in the London market? The Growing Studio is partnering with a handful of UK industry professionals for an exciting new course -  A Taste of London! If you've ever considered making the jump across the pond to the British market, this is the perfect opportunity to learn the in's and out's from several London agents, producers, and casting personnel. This six session workshop starts this Friday!

As I'm sure we've all seen on one social media or another, Australia and New Zealand have been weathering the COVID storm better than just about anywhere else in the world. Thanks to stringent lockdowns and non-careless leadership, the countries' film productions are booming once again, with Australia seeing a 215% increase in filming inquiries looking to take advantage of a new $310 million tax incentive. Must be nice!

Tensions continue to rise between the UK and China as both countries endeavor to block out the other from its airwaves and media offerings. Britain recently stripped Chinese news channel CGTV of its broadcast license in the country after determining that it was run by the Chinese Communist Party, prompting China to ban BBC World News from distribution only days later. The effects of the head-to-head between countries have been far-reaching, and media execs are taking note. Several film and TV deals are currently in limbo between the two countries, with the truth of the matter being that the UK needs Chinese broadcasters and audiences, a bargaining chip that officials in China are no strangers to using in past negotiations.

Advice & Submissions

Looking for directing tips for some industry veterans? Judd Apatow and Jason Bateman recently sat in on the latest segment of Variety's Directors on Directors to discuss their approaches to tackling projects, the magic of the editing room, and setting actors up for success while shooting. 

SUBMISSIONS: Playbill has compiled a list of grants, funds, and fellowships that are currently accepting applications from artists who are currently creating their own work, offering either development or relief opportunities to help support us during these difficult days. Apply today!

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

This week's BroadwayWorld Black History Month Spotlight is on famed playwright August Wilson, whose productions have been staged around the world and encapsulate the Black experience in America like no other. Wilson's work has enjoyed a newfound renaissance with the distribution of MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM from Netflix, which is proving to be just the tip of the iceberg. In 2015, Denzel Washington shared his intentions to bring all ten of Wilson's American Century Cycle plays to the big screen in the coming years, introducing a new generation to his works in a more accessible way than ever before.

Ratings giant Nielsen has launched a new segment of its industry grading criteria, aimed at shedding light on diversity across all of its reviewed content. Gracenote Inclusion Analytics will enable distributors and studios to sift through which content is currently meeting Diversity, Equity & Inclusion guidelines, and analyze information like breakdowns of screen time for minority characters, how audiences are reacting to what is being shown in their content and much more.

Bee Vang, activist, and star of Clint Eastwood's 2008 flick GRAN TORINO, recently opened up about the film's impact in the Asian community in the United States since its debut. Vang discussed the rampant rise in anti-Asian hate crimes around the country in the wake of COVID-19, and how it came as little surprise to him after seeing audiences laugh at the repeated racist slurs throughout TORINO. "To this day, I am still haunted by the mirth of white audiences, the uproarious laughter when Eastwood’s curmudgeonly racist character, Walt Kowalski, growled a slur," Vang wrote in an NBC News op-ed (TW: anti-Asian slurs and rhetoric). "It's a 'harmless joke,' right? Until it’s not just a joke, but rather one more excuse for ignoring white supremacy and racism."

Emmy, Tony, and Grammy-winning artist, Cynthia Erivo is ready to tell the stories of Black women we've never heard before. The COLOR PURPLE star announced the creation of her own production company, Edith’s Daughter, that will seek to highlight the stories of "the other" in society, and celebrate names that history books have too often overlooked. "People whose stories have often been trivialized or relegated to certain archetypes and stereotypes," Erivo wrote. "See them live in their fullness and in genres that have historically not been meant for them." Coming off her stellar performances as Harriet Tubman in HARRIET and Aretha Franklin for Nat Geo's GENIUS: ARETHA, Erivo plans to continue uplifting stories of Black women "in spaces that we haven’t been seen yet."

It has been an exciting year for women in film and TV, with dozens of high-profile projects featuring women in starring roles, director's chairs, and producer/executive producer roles. Variety chatted with a handful of award-season hopefuls about the turning point for representation in Hollywood in 2021 and the long-term effects that authentic storytelling can have on our industry.

The Black Reel Awards, which recognizes excellence in filmmaking in the African-American and African diaspora communities, announced the nominees for its 21st annual awards ceremony, scheduled to be held April 11th. Amazon's ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI, helmed by Regina King, led the group with 15 nominations, followed closely by JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH'S 12 nods. Check out the full list here!

In the wake of the renewed Black Lives Matter movement last summer, the "We See You, White American Theater" manifesto was signed by over 300 BIPOC artists and creators, demanding radical change from the theatre industry in the US. Seven months later, the group has released their initial Accountability Report, highlighting the organizations that have done the most to dismantle the historically racist institutions and ideologies that have led them to their current state, and reaffirming the importance of this work at every level of the community to ensure a fair and equitable future of the American theatre. The full report can be read and downloaded here.

Ava DuVernay Launches New Production Company

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay announced the creation of Array Crew, a new initiative aimed at increasing the number of employed crew members from historically underrepresented communities in Hollywood. The project has been financially backed by some of the biggest names in the industry, including WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS, Disney, Hulu, and many more, allowing for the over 3,000 member database to be used by its members completely for free. The only requirement? Having one credit on your resume. "What we’re saying is that in this town, it’s so much about who you know, but what happens if you don’t know anyone? So what ARRAY Crew wants to be is who you know," DuVernay said. The company spans the 45 main production categories that studios would be looking to fill, from COVID compliance officers to cinematographers.

Scorsese Channels il Maestro

Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese hasn't had any issues making his opinions known about the current state of filmmaking over the last few years. The DEPARTED director went public with his belief that Marvel movies were not cinema-level projects in 2019, sparking an industry-wide discussion over the merit of different types of films in today's entertainment landscape. Scorsese is staring down a new adversary in an essay for Harper's Magazine: the streaming industry. "[T]he art of cinema is being systematically devalued, sidelined, demeaned, and reduced to its lowest common denominator, 'Content'," he argues, though noting that he himself has benefitted from the advent of streaming in being given a platform for his more recent projects like THE IRISHMAN (Netflix) and KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON (Apple TV). Ultimately, the award-winning filmmaker's argument is simple: Do your own research in curating your watchlists, rather than relying on streamers' algorithms to do the work for you, and let the films speak for themselves. 🎬

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

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

Quick Bites

As the first award season in a still COVID-laden world takes shape, frontrunner films have begun to emerge in critic's circles and cast ballots that paint a clearer picture of the most anticipated films of the year. Deadline has been following a handful of conversations around the industry over the last week, including the rise of the Francis McDormand-led NOMADLAND, Aaron Sorkin's THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7, and more.

Spike Lee continues to make headlines this week, this time sharing that he may be open to directing a Marvel flick if given the chance: "If the right opportunity comes across, I'm not campaigning for it, but I will give it consideration."

The lure of the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy has expanded once again, thanks to a new essay from film journalist Drew McWeeny. The longtime entertainment writer shared how the film's director Peter Jackson sought to relocate the franchise after discovering that then-producer Harvey Weinstein had given Jackson a $75 million, two-film cap for the series, leading Jackson to leak the film's script to McWeeny, drumming up industry interest that would eventually allow the RINGS team to relocate the project to New Line Cinema.

That's all we got for this week! Be sure to check out some of the awesome content streaming this week that we mentioned; lots of great theatre and talkbacks out there right now to keep learning and stay sharp.

Oh, and if you didn't fill out our Feedback Form, here's the link one more time 😉

Have a great week!

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

February 16, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

I hope everyone had a lovely Valentine's Day weekend and took the chance to spend time, either virtually or in-person, with some special folks in your life 💘 I've been feeling very grateful for all the wonderful people I have in my own life over the last few weeks, and while I'm not normally the world's biggest fan of Valentine's Day, I definitely made it a point to reflect on the importance of the many different types of love we have received over the last year, and for that, I am incredibly thankful. I'm also thankful for the giant bag of discounted Valentine's Day candy I'm about to snag from CVS 🤷‍♂️ Small victories!

We're over halfway through February which doesn't even seem remotely possible, and the industry is showing no signs of slowing. Love to see it 💯 Let's talk news!

UTD Workshop Feedback

Have you attended one of our workshops in 2021? We want to hear from you! We've compiled this super quick feedback form (I promise super quick is super quick: five questions, should take MAYBE 60 seconds) just to gauge everyone's interest in our last few sessions, and what topics we could cover in the coming months. Please take a minute to fill this out so we can help make your workshop experience with UTD the best that it can be!

Black History Month

BroadwayWorld has continued its coverage of Black History Month offerings from theatres around the country, including jazz histories and performances, dance classes, readings, and other streaming performances. Check out the full list of these week's features!

Agency giant UTA has officially signed the iconic Apollo Theater across the board for its future performances. The move will help spread the Apollo's cultural offerings across film, TV, events, publishing, and more. "The Apollo Theater has long been a vibrant platform for artistic innovation as well as a place for audiences to come together to celebrate Black culture and the arts of the African Diaspora," Apollo Theater President and CEO Jonelle Procope said in a statement. "I look forward to working with UTA to amplify the Apollo’s influence and the artists we champion while introducing the non-profit theater’s mission and programming to an even broader audience."

Alvin Ailey, founder of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and four-time Broadway veteran, left an indelible mark on the theatrical and artistic community at large with his fusion dance style that combined elements of ballet, modern, jazz and theatre to tell the stories of black history in America. BroadwayWorld chronicled his life in a recent spotlight, exploring his now world-famous REVELATIONS presentation, along with the many achievements of his dance center and the impact they continue to have on furthering dance education in the US.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The major entertainment industry unions have come together to advocate for a significant, quantifiable, and far-reaching change in diversity and inclusion practices in Hollywood. Exec members of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, DGA, IATSA, WGA and more released a statement calling on Congress to take up a host of legislation that would, among other things, create federal tax credits for diversity in hiring, increase federal arts funding and protect the rights of workers to unionize. "We work inside and outside the traditional collective bargaining process to create more and better opportunities for underrepresented people, the groups said in their statement. 'Smart policy solutions aimed at creating diverse talent pipelines, incentivizing diversity in hiring, and supporting collective bargaining will help our workplaces and our industries move forward.'"

Howard University is set to partner with QUEEN & SLIM director Melina Matsoukas on the creation of a newly launched Instagram campaign. The Share Black Stories "Future First" Reels Challenge will select a group of storytellers from Howard's Department of Media, Journalism, and Film to receive a $10,000 production stipend to help get their work off the ground. The content will then be cued up to be broadcast across Instagram in the coming months, in addition to being reviewed by Matsoukas and other educators. "Having the ability to create in these spaces and have hundreds of thousands, or millions of people, immediately be able to see, react, respond, and be affected by your work is so powerful," Matsoukas said.

Moving the needle toward a more authentic landscape for actors with disabilities in Hollywood has proven to be a disappointingly long and winding road, but there have been encouraging signs in the past few years that the tables are beginning to turn in the right direction. NBCUniversal's recent adoption of the Ruderman Family Foundation's guidelines for auditioning actors with disabilities has encouraged many in the industry to believe that as more studios and companies agree to these hiring practices, the opportunities for actors in the community will continue to grow and flourish, opening up the potential for landing lead roles in major projects. As Jay Ruderman wrote: "Through authentic representation, inclusive casting and more opportunities for people with disabilities both in front of the camera and behind it, the entertainment industry could change the public’s view of disability and gain the support of the large population of people with disabilities."

Nickelodeon's BLUE'S CLUES reboot BLUE'S CLUES & YOU released a song last week that has quickly gained popularity for its inclusivity toward the LGBTQIA+ community. "ABC Song with Blue!" ran through each letter of the alphabet, with P being assigned to "Pride," and accompanied by a handful of flags for the Trans community, asexual community, pansexual community, and more. The song has yet to air on TV but is currently available on the show's YouTube channel. We love it!

COVID Updates

Broadway marketing exec Damian Bazadona is feeling hopeful about the return of theater in 2021. The Situation Interactive President wrote an op-ed for Playbill praising what our community has been able to accomplish, even in the midst of a worldwide shutdown that has relegated human interaction almost entirely to phone and computer screens. The success of virtual fundraising galas, the rise of the TikTok musical (for better or worse), the community outreach for societal issues, tackled and transformed in ways that only artists could do. "[M]y greatest wish is that all of the ideas, passion, thought, and energy that have been compiled over the past year have their push for progress before we aim to turn the light switch back on," Bazadona writes. "Don’t wait—the moment is now. Push for action to create a better industry wherever your passion lives—you may not get a better chance for change than this moment."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled his plan to revive the arts sector throughout the state last week. NY PopsUp, will run the gamut of live entertainment across New York, beginning this Saturday, February 20th, and culminating on Labor Day with the 20th anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival, for an expected total of more than 1,000 performances and events. The massive undertaking will be supported both publicly and privately by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) and Empire State Development (ESD), as well as producers Scott Rudin and Jane Rosenthal. "Creative synergies are vital for cities to survive, and our arts and cultural industries have been shut down all across the country, taking a terrible toll on workers and the economy, Cuomo said. "We want to be aggressive with reopening the State and getting our economy back on track." The governor has already begun separate phases of the state's reopening plan with the approval of large stadium and arena reopenings at 10% capacity, provided that attendees have received a negative COVID test within 72 hours.

Dolly Parton is onboard to #SaveOurStages. The beloved country singer has been doing her part to get the word out about funding for the popular bill, which is set to provide more than $10 billion in financial relief to the hardest hit independent entertainment venues in the country. As of now, little information has been made available to individual states about processing the funding and getting it in the hands of these struggling institutions, prompting the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) to continue soliciting donations for its Emergency Relief Fund, which intends to bridge the gap between the eventual flow of federal funds and the dire need many of these venues are currently facing.

PBS NewsHour sat down with a handful of Broadway veterans from both on and off the stage to track the current state of the industry shutdown, and what people are doing to make ends meet. "For now, the focus must be on sustaining the people and the work they do that make up this great American industry, so there will be an industry to return to."

Though theatre makers at large have undoubtedly been dealt an impossible hand during the pandemic, theatre educators have arguably received some of the worst odds. Shuttered schools, shuffling schedules and waning childhood attention spans on Zoom don't exactly make for a Broadway-caliber introduction for many kids' first step into theatre, but Lincoln Center has been doing its part to bring out the artist in all of their early-ed classes participants. Using Dominique Morisseau's 2017 play PIPELINE, teaching artists with the theater have been making the best of the current situation to allow their students to explore their own writing and creativity with the help of their classmates.

Assessing a New Federal Theatre Project

There has been a lot of talk over the last few weeks of reviving the Federal Arts Project, a New Deal-Era answer to the Great Depression that helped employ thousands of artists across the country from 1935 to 1939. The goal of the program was simple, yet its impacts have lasted far beyond the days of Roosevelt and his fireside chats: put artists to work in their own community. While many arts execs are debating the efficacy of a revised FTP at a time when people are by-and-large still relegated to in-home entertainment for the foreseeable future, the prospect of empowering creators to build on the programs in their own towns and cities seems to signal a common ground for believers and skeptics alike.

Opinions abound as to the best course of action to seek funding for such a lofty endeavor. One proposal, touted by NYC Council hopeful and Actors' Equity member Jeffrey Omura, would leave federal government funding out completely, appealing instead to the biggest tech companies - Apple, Amazon, Disney - to fork over 0.2% of their free cash to set up a relief fund, resulting in what Omura believes would amount to over $1 billion in funds to support the artists that have made all of their streaming services so successful during the pandemic. "Almost my entire community has been out of work," Omura said, "and the thing we need most right now is work."

Special provisions would also need to be put in place to support BIPOC work and institutions, many of which are historically shorted on federal funding, if and when it does come. Some artists have already taken matters into their own hands, as has been the case with Jeremy O. Harris, a frequent supporter of the FTP, who recently established the Golden & Ruth Harris Commission, which will award two $50,000 grants through funding from his agreements with HBO. But at the end of the day, nothing will compete with government support, both socially and financially.

And then there is, of course, the struggle of convincing people that our jobs are, in fact, jobs. "I don’t think collectively we know how to talk about the fact that arts jobs are jobs," mused Greg Reiner, director of theatre and musical theatre for the NEA. We need to change the way the arts are regarded at large in the US, and while COVID has shed light on decades of long-held issues that still plague the community, it can also become our moment of greatest action, ensuring a rich, vibrant future of cultural longevity and conversation in America.

There's No Place Like Home

The Actors' Fund officially broke ground last week on their $120 million Hollywood Arts Collective, an expansive campus along Hollywood Boulevard that will feature a performance venue, artist housing, and non-profit arts office space. "This project is going to mean a lot to the entertainment community of Los Angeles," vice chair of The Actors' Fund Annette Bening wrote. The venue will be split into two parts, the Arts Building, which will house the theatre, office spaces, and Actors Fund West headquarters, and the Residential Building, featuring 151 affordable housing units for artists in the area. The new hub was made possible in part through a sizable donation from LA philanthropist Glorya Kaufman, who shared that her "passion has been theater and dance and helping causes that help support people, therefore The Actors Fund has been the crown jewel in [her] philanthropic life." The complex is set to be completed in 2024 🏙

Netflix Expansion Continues

Ted Sarandos' streaming giant is showing no signs of slowing down in 2021: Netflix announced plans last week to open offices in Canada as well as Italy, reaffirming their commitment to producing local content in both countries in the next few years. CEO Sarandos wrote in a blog post that the streamer has spent over $2.5 billion with our neighbors up north since 2017, confirming that the Canadian office will hire a new content chief to help oversee the development of local programming. Across the world in Italy, Netflix is currently eyeing a major shift in its output that had originally been announced prior to the pandemic last year, but is still on track to double the company's amount of Italian content by the end of 2022. "If we want more people to see their lives reflected on screen, then we need to make sure that people of all backgrounds are getting access to opportunities for training, mentorship and on-set experiences," Sarandos said.

It's Spike's World, We're Just Living In It

The entertainment industry has by-and-large been completely shuttered over the past year, but no one tell Spike Lee. The Oscar-winning writer, director, and producer has had one of his busiest years to date over the last 12 months, headlined by his highly-praised Netflix drama DA 5 BLOODS, along with his host of other projects including the HBO adaptation of David Byrne's Broadway show AMERICAN UTOPIA and the harrowing 3 BROTHERS, the project we shared last week that draws chilling parallels between the deaths of George Floyd, Eric Garner and Radio Raheem, a character from Lee's 1989 flick DO THE RIGHT THING. The never-tiring director chatted with Deadline about the work he's been doing over the last year, his thoughts on the COVID vaccine and the industry's return, his plans to head the jury at this year's Cannes Film Festival, former President Trump's impeachment trial and more.

Advice, Classes & Submissions

Dominique Fishback has offered a masterclass of her own with her performance in JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH. We highly encourage everyone to sit down and watch Dom's performance in this incredible piece, because it is undoubtedly one of the best films of the year without question. Dom talked with Collider about how she prepared for some of the most difficult parts of the film, and the interview is a wellspring of knowledge for every actor out there. Spoilers ahead, so be sure to watch the movie first before reading her interview!

SUBMISSION: The Black Theatre Coalition has partnered with Broadway Records to produce and release Black Writers Amplified, which will seek to give new and emerging Black talent the chance to showcase their work for the musical theatre community. The album will also open up a slew of opportunities for Black musicians, engineers, orchestrators, and more to produce the songs, all to be released at some point later this year. Submit your songs by March 31st!

SUBMISSION: Ron Howard's production company Imagine Entertainment is looking for an emerging writer to take the lead on developing his latest project. Described as "SCHOOL OF ROCK meets MONEYBALL," the basketball comedy has opened up submissions for a screenwriter to head the project. Applications are due March 7th!

Interested in upping your musical theatre game this winter from the comfort of your own home? The Institute for American Musical Theatre has partnered with BroadwayWorld to produce a 10 week series of classes, spanning acting, singing, and dancing, to help keep your skills sharp and get your creative juices flowing. Sign up online and get 10% off!

Looking to spruce up your social media presence? BroadwayWorld has you covered 🤓

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.

Quick Bites

The return to Oz has finally found its leader: WATCHMEN director Nicole Kassell will helm the reboot, THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, after an extensive search by WarnerMedia over the last year. Kassell has received a DGA award and an Emmy for producing WATCHMEN for HBO, for whom she has also directed episodes of VINYL, THE LEFTOVERS, and WESTWORLD.

A lesson in knowing your worth and asking for what you deserve: Six main cast members of the Netflix hit series THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY came together to ecure a substantial pay increase ahead of the show's third season. Considering the show scored the top slot on last year's first-ever Nielsen rankings for streaming shows, it's safe to say the raise was well-deserved. Advocate for YOU!

I'll take neckties for 300, Alex! Late JEOPARDY host and beloved American game show icon Alex Trebeck's wardrobe has been donated to The Doe Fund, an organization that helps support underserved communities in their search for jobs, as well as provides training and educational opportunities to Americans who have struggled with incarcertion, homelessness, and addiction.

Georgia continues to be a hotbed for production activity with the announcement of a new venture from Bay Point Advisors, a major film financing firm in the state. Bay Point Media, located on North America's second biggest studio complex Trilith Studios, will oversee at least three feature films each year, having already confirmed development on the Kevin Bacon-led ONE WAY.

Through Three Things, a new production company formed by SUPERGIRL star Melissa Benoist, has landed a deal with Warner Bros.Television Group to produce exclusive content for the studio over the next few years: "I can’t wait to collaborate with new voices and find stories that hit the heart in that indefinable way."

Lena Waithe is officially working on a secret new theatre project with multi-award winner Debbie Allen. The MASTER OF NONE writer, actress, and producer spoke with a group of students from Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts last week about her experiences in the industry, and shared insight about developing her own projects and the importance of authenticity in her storytelling.

Actors' Equity released a statement in support of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, after the legislation reentered conversation in Washington last week. The act would outline a handful of protections for workers looking to unionize and would prevent companies from mandating employees' attendance at anti-organizing meetings.

February 09, 2021

Happy Tuesday, UTD!

Another weekend, another round of snow, huh? ⛄️ Guess the groundhog wasn't messing around with his six more weeks of winter, and I'm completely here for it. Throw me another blanket and give me any reason to keep working through my awards season watchlist guilt-free. 🎬

Did everyone catch the Super Bowl/Puppy Bowl/all the commercials last Sunday? I'm more of a baseball guy myself (Go Yankees etc etc), but any excuse to make pigs in a blanket and buffalo chicken dip and eat it all by myself in the living room is a good day for me!

The industry continues to bustle, and we continue to break it all down for you. Grab some leftovers and let's get to it!

Self-Submission Workshop with The Growing Studio

Our next virtual event is almost here! We'll be chatting with the folks at The Growing Studio about the art of self-submitting, which, if you've attended any UTD workshops in the past, you know is the bread and butter of what makes UTD Actor such a powerful tool (sorry, still have food on the brain).

Upcoming Workshop
February 10, 2021 @ 8 PM EST —
THE ART OF EFFECTIVE SELF SUBMISSIONS with The Growing Studio

Come discuss what self-submissions look like in the age of COVID, and how to track projects and submit to everything that fits your goals!

As part of our quest to explore new digital horizons this year, the UTD team has officially made our jump into the world of Clubhouse, an invite-based social media platform aimed at opening up organic conversation between users on just about any topic you can think of. Basically, if Twitter were a podcast, which sounds like an "anything can happen" situation... 2021 baby. If you're already on the app, keep an eye out for announcements on our Instagram for any upcoming talks we'll be hosting; the current plan is to have quick chats on Friday afternoon about the state of the industry each week (to accompany our Weekly News Roundups), and answer any questions you may have in a more casual setting than a Zoom class or IG Live. Come hang with us!

Ranking Super Bowl Commercials

For anyone who may not have caught Tom Brady's seventh championship and blah blah blah sports sports sports, I took the liberty of compiling what I thought were the best commercials of the evening. Surprisingly, some of the major spenders from years past chose to sit this year's Super Bowl out, as most companies are tightening their ad budgets in the age of COVID, but we still had a solid round of contenders vying for the top slot.

So I present: Sean's Top Picks

Best Burn: Fiver - Opportunity Knocks
What is Happening: Oatly - No Cow
Most Improved: Ashton Kutcher singing (bad) with a cameo from Shaggy (good)

People in the Twitterverse had many opinions on the outcome of The Weeknd's half-time performance (when do people on Twitter not have opinions), but I really thought it was great. Are his moves among the likes of Bruno and Beyoncé? They are not. Did he still give us a boppin' show with lots of weird, up-close camera shots for unending GIF possibilities? He sure did. And for that, we are thankful. 🙏

Setting the Stage for Awards Season 2021

Weekly nomination shows, endless FYC banners, people shamelessly acting like critics and sharing their top picks for everyone to see (who does that, anyway...): We're officially in the thick of awards season ✨

Check out full nomination lists for the Golden Globes and SAG Awards here!

The London Critics‘ Circle Film Awards presented their awards over the weekend, with Francis McDormand's performance in NOMADLAND taking home three top honors for Film, Actress, and Screenwriter of the Year awards. Chadwick Boseman won Actor of the Year for his knockout performance in MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM, joining his four SAG nominations and garnering praise from BLACK PANTHER co-star Michael B Jordan on Instagram: "Still setting the bar higher. Miss you big homie."

While we await the delayed Oscar nominations slated to be released in mid-March, a new analysis of the famed award show paints a notably darker picture of the Oscars' financial health. Low ratings have plagued the awards show for years, and with this year's presentation being bumped to late April, some are speculating that the consistent decline in revenue from worldwide television distribution could be accelerated by this year's show happening nearly two months after the rest of the award season buzz is over, further deepening any losses for the Academy's biggest broadcast.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Theatres across the country have been loading up their February slates with an amazing array of Black-led projects, pieces written by Black authors, and new premieres from Black creators. BroadwayWorld has compiled a handful of selections from houses across the US, from The Met, The August Wilson African American Cultural Center, CUNY, and more!

We're so excited to feature one of UTD's very own in this week's email: Dominique Fishback! Dom has been working non-stop on her career for years, earning roles in projects like NIGHT COMES ON, THE HATE U GIVE, and THE DEUCE, and is now starring alongside Daniel Kaluuya in Shaka King's JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH, slated to be released on HBO Max this Friday. Dom spoke about her accomplishments with Collider and her process of preparing for her role as Deborah Johnson in JUDAS, "As long as I stay true to the work of it, then I don’t have to be afraid of living up to the occasion."

This year's crop of award nominees is proving to be one of the most diverse classes ever, with 28% of the film and TV nominations for SAG going to BIPOC performers and projects, and 18.6% of nominees across all acting categories being BIPOC. While the march toward parity still remains slow and steady, none of the numbers for either award show represent a high water mark for diverse nominations, highlighting the reality of Hollywood's at times hollow promise to make good on increasing authentic representation on screen. "In order for us to move forward in an effective way and create change, all of these groups, institutions, studios, networks, if you’re not dissecting your patterns and your tendencies and rebuilding from that point, you’re kind of just putting a bandaid on it," Color of Change culture and entertainment advocacy director Kristen Marston said.

AFL-CIO's Department of Professional Employees will convene a panel this Thursday to discuss the state of diversity in entertainment, and how legislative actions can help further the work that our labor unions are doing to serve underrepresented communities in the industry. Top execs across film, TV, and theatre will be in attendance, including reps from Actors' Equity, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, DGA, and WGA.

TW: Racial violence - As the world continues to engage in the long-overdue tectonic shift toward a more inclusive society, films like Spike Lee's DO THE RIGHT THING echo the decades of pain that have reverberated through the Black community, particularly in the US. Lee created a short film in the aftermath of George Floyd's death last year, drawing the parallels between the murders of Floyd, Eric Garner and DO THE RIGHT THING character Radio Raheem. "[P]eople are reacting the way they do to be heard. We are seeing this again and again and again."

Nigerian comedian and BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA co-creator Gina Yashere couldn't be happier with the show's reception from audiences and CBS execs alike. Now in its second season, the Black-led comedy about Nigerian life in America is breaking barriers, along with shows like ALL RISE and THE NEIGHBORHOOD, for fostering authenticity in 2021. "Before BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA, I was out there pitching shows about my culture and my upbringing and my family, and nobody was interested," Yashere said. "Now it’s opened doors because now everybody’s looking at our show and going, 'Oh, we can do shows like this and they can be successful, and all of America can enjoy the show.'"

The SEX AND THE CITY reboot is officially diversifying their writing team, after years of backlash from the show's original run for its overwhelmingly white cast and creative team. AND JUST LIKE THAT..., slated to air on HBO Max, has welcomed three new writers to its team, FRESH OFF THE BOAT exec Rachna Fruchbom, BLACK LIGHTNING writer Keli Goff and comedian Samantha Irby. Many are hopeful that the creative changes will turn the tide on the Sarah Jessica Parker-led revival, especially after Kim Cattrall called for an actress of color to take up the torch as Cattrall's Samantha Jones.

The Greg Berlanti universe has just gotten a little bigger with the announcement that SUPERGIRL star Azie Tesfai would co-write episode 12 for the series' final season, marking the first time an actor has penned an episode in the world of ARROW, THE FLASH, TITANS and more. "Working in our amazing writers room and co-writing an episode has been an immensely educational and empowering experience," Tesfai said. "Writing is such a passion for me and I’m excited to continue on this creative journey."

COVID Updates

Film & TV

In a sign of good faith for its members, SAG-AFTRA has voted to suspend this year's 2% dues increase and will keep induction fees at their current level, as the majority of union members still remain out of work from the ongoing pandemic. The national board also approved a measure to recognize content created by influencers to be covered by the union and receive SAG-supported income and health coverage.

COVID continues to affect the lowest-paid employees in Hollywood, with a new report from #PayUpHollywood noting that nearly 80% of assistants are paid $50,000 or less, categorizing them as financially "burdened" by Los Angeles city standards. "We have seen reports of companies ending the COVID pandemic pay cuts for their top-earning executives while continuing to cut hours, transfer work expenses, and increase the workload of the assistants and support staff of this industry, if not lay them off entirely," #PayUpHollywood co-founder and THE ROOKIE writer Liz Alper. "What steps are studios and companies taking to offer the same protection to their support staffers as they are to their highest executives?"

Many found comfort in the Netflix breakout series THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT this past year, headlined by newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy's grounded, purposeful portrayal of chess maven Beth Harmon. "There’s something to be said of a character whose biggest enemy is herself," Taylor-Joy said. "When you’re locked up in your house, there’s only a certain amount of room to run away from yourself. That is potentially something people were a bit more open to at the end of the day." The series is currently up for multiple Golden Globe and SAG awards, with Taylor-Joy garnering a best actress nomination in both fields.

While COVID has taken and continues to take its toll on the entertainment industry, Disney has been using this unique moment in time to re-examine how it can best serve smaller companies and invest in younger, diverse voices. Pointing to Disney affiliates like RAMY and I MAY DESTROY YOU, Chairman of Entertainment Dana Walden has said that creating authentic representation at Disney has started behind the scenes: "We have welcomed in amazing creative and business leaders, executives of color, decision-makers at the highest level. That’s where it has to start if we want meaningful change." Disney productions have enjoyed some of the lowest COVID infection rates across all projects in production, boasting a <1% transmission rate compared to the 7-9% in other parts of LA county.

Theatre

We're all itching for Broadway to be back, that much we know for sure. Some productions have announced revised timetables for their returns, while many others are hanging tight to see how the country responds to increased COVID vaccinations in the coming months. Take a peek at what stage each production is currently in as of this week!

With the Save Our Stages Act officially signed into law as part of the second COVID relief bill in late December, theaters and live entertainment venues breathed a collective sigh of relief that more help would be on the way. The Small Business Administration updated their guidance last week on who is eligible to apply for the new round of grants, removing the stipulation that only companies with 50 or fewer employees could apply. In its latest interpretation, any business that can show 90% loss of income due to COVID is eligible to receive funding in the first round, followed by companies with a 70% loss in the second round of funding.

The National Endowment for the Arts is set to award $27.5 million in grants to over 1,000 institutions in all 50 states and Puerto Rico this year. Cultural centers from all walks of life were among the beneficiaries of this first round of funding, including the National Black Arts Festival, Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts. Ma-Yi Theater Company, the Actors Fund, and more.

No Assholes Allowed

Olivia Wilde has had enough of Hollywood's crap. The actress-turned-director recently ousted longtime drama king Shia LeBeouf from her upcoming project DON'T WORRY DARLING, choosing to replace him with singer (and now actor?) Harry Styles for alleged poor behavior on set. "I think that it is an unfortunate part of the kind of the paradigm, that has been created over the last 100 years, the idea that great art has to come from a place of discomfort and anxiety," Wilde shared in a recent DIRECTORS ON DIRECTORS series with Variety. "The no assholes policy, it puts everybody on the same level. I also noticed as an actress for years how the hierarchy of the set separated the actors from the crew in this very strange way that serves no one…the idea of, don’t bother the actors and keep them separate and don’t look at them. I think it makes everyone quite anxious." #OutWithTheAssholes2021

We Finish Each Other's.... Avalanche Mysteries?

This one is just too weird to not share: Animators responsible for creating the snow sequences in Disney's FROZEN were recently enlisted to help solve a 60-year mystery in the Ural Mountains' Dyatlov Pass. Up until now, researchers believed that the death of nine Russian hikers during a 200-mile trek across the mountain range in the winter of 1959 was due to an avalanche, while the world of internet conspiracy theorists believed that anything from aliens to government agents could have been to blame. Johan Gaume, head of the Swiss federal technical institute Snow Avalanche Simulation Laboratory, "was struck by how well the movement of snow was depicted" in the Disney movie and sought the animators' help in revisiting the modeling for the incident. The result? 🥁 Definitely death by avalanche. The truth is FROZEN no longer 🏔

Advice & Submissions

SUBMISSION: PBS is seeking submissions from BIPOC content creators for a new series aimed at sharing diverse stories on the network. "This initiative will further amplify the voices of diverse/BIPOC producers across public media, inviting submissions that explore a broad range of experiences, perspectives, and points of view." Applications open in March!

RELIEF SUBMISSION: The FrontOffice Foundation is offering a limited number of grants to mid-life artists, crew members, and administrators, in order to alleviate hardships caused by COVID-19. "We want to hear about your dreams and be sure those remain active during this time of industry closure." Applications are due February 26th!

As is the case with most industries, a major key to success as an actor is in your networking. Luckily, we have someone like Colleen from Actors Connection in our network to share all the secrets of networking success for actors!

Currently Casting

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


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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


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TV

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Quick Bites

Writer Lee Daniels talked with CNN's Don Lemon about the aftermath of the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, noting the discrepancy between treatment of the white rioters by Capitol police vs. Black protestors across the country this past summer: "[Y]ou cannot write a script like we are seeing now... in the Capitol and in the country."

Rupert Grint isn't looking to make a return to the HARRY POTTER universe anytime soon. As rumors continue to float around about a possible series being developed by HBO Max, the OG Ron Weasley is happily keeping busy in M. Night Shyamalan's Apple TV+ series SERVANT while juggling the responsibilities of becoming a new father this year.

From PARKS AND REC to 911: LONE STAR to chasing Bigfoot, Rob Lowe has just about done it all. The Hollywood veteran recently chatted with Variety about sustaining his success over the years, how saying "no" can open up doors down the road, and the joys of being a parent. Take notes, Rupert!

Stages managing director Mark Folkes will be stepping down from his role with the Houston theatre company to join the Greater Houston Community Foundation. Eboni Bell will be heading up the company's first inclusion, engagement, and training director, effective yesterday.

The feud between WME and WGA has officially reached its conclusion, after nearly two years of back-and-forth and court proceedings. The agreement is similar to those reached with CAA, UTA, and ICM in the past few months, opening the door for union-backed writers to once again work with the top-tier agency.

That "Feeling of Fellowship" Will Return

It's no surprise that just about every major studio is hoping for the best when it comes to movie theaters reopening in 2021. And I'm right there with them; my roommates could probably make a drinking game over the number of times I sit on the couch each week whining about wanting to be back in a dark theater on 34th Street with a bunch of random New Yorkers taking full advantage of AMC's $5 Tuesdays and drowning out the world with some popcorn and soda for a few hours 🍿Stephen Spielberg is right there with me, it seems:

"That’s the magic we experience when we go out to see a movie or a play or a concert or a comedy act. We don’t know who all these people are sitting around us, but when the experience makes us laugh or cry or cheer or contemplate, and then when the lights come up and we leave our seats, the people with whom we head out into the real world don’t feel like complete strangers anymore. We’ve become a community, alike in heart and spirit, or at any rate alike in having shared for a couple of hours a powerful experience."

Thanks for sticking this one out, folks! Lots of ups and downs in the entertainment biz these days, and I'm choosing to see it as seeds being planted for some goodness to bloom in the months to come.

Go grab some sunshine this week, and stay warm!

— Sean Gregory
@seanpgregory
Social Media & Content

February 02, 2021

Happy Groundhog Day, UTD!

What, you don't celebrate Groundhog Day every February 2nd? Growing up only a little over 2 hours from Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney (yes I promise these are all real places), I was always tuned to the news every February 2nd to see what our fair furry friend had predicted for the remainder of winter. And while he has officially condemned us to six more weeks of winter, I personally adore snow, and waking up to a fresh foot+ of it blanketing the streets outside my window here in NYC the past two days has made my inner boy from central PA *very* happy ❄️

Fortunately or unfortunately, the industry doesn't take any snow days around here, and there's plenty to discuss ☃️ So let's get to it!

Film Festival Flings

Winter in the film industry always means one thing: Award season is starting to heat up. 🔥 Sundance announced earlier in January that they would officially be pursuing a hybrid in-person/online model, a first in festival history. Check out a full rundown of all the top picks for Sundance from IndieWire, along with dozens of other projects to watch during the event!

One of the biggest shifts in the film festival landscape in recent years has been watching streamer-produced titles slowly overrun the top-10 distributor purchases, prying away the long-held spaces from established studios in the US. Sundance 2021 is expected to be no exception, as a year of audiences mostly relegated to living room viewing has tipped the scales towards many top-budget films heading straight to VOD. And while this ultimately means more content for us, many traditional distributors are quickly retooling how they approach festival season in order to stay relevant in the digital age. As some studios are choosing to embrace our new virtual age, diving full throttle into partnerships like A24 with Apple and Neon with Hulu, others are relying on tried-and-true partnerships to keep bringing movies to audiences both in theatres and online.

Away from the snow-capped mountains in Utah, other film festivals around the world are steeling themselves for another out of the ordinary awards season, making the best of a year plagued by production delays and cancellations. After much speculation from critics, studios, and distributors across the industry, the Cannes Film Festival has finally opted to postpone their original May dates in favor of an early July timeline, as COVID numbers continue to climb and a recent study confirmed that nearly 40% of France's residents planned to receive the vaccination. Back in the U.S., Bentonville Film Festival, known for its specific emphasis on diversity in storytelling, has opened submissions ahead of its 7th annual event, slated to be held August 3rd through the 8th in Arkansas.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has released its 2021 Media Awards nominees, recognizing "fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues" across all media platforms. Streamers continued to lead the pack across film and TV, with Netflix picking up 26 nominations, mostly for their TV selections over the past year. Traditional networks continue to lag far between their digital counterparts, as only ABC and NBC made the list with two nods apiece. Broadway film adaptations THE PROM, THE BOYS IN THE BAND and MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM also earned nominations for this year's awards ceremony, slated to be presented virtually this April.

While the advent of streaming deals has reduced the amount of gate-keeping power that film festivals like Sundance and Cannes hold with regard to what movies receive the highest viewership each year, many festivals have pledged to do their part to make their events more inclusive and reflective of the world today. Sundance 2021 will host 27 of its 72 feature-length films from either a director of color or focusing on a story about folks of color, accounting for about 38% of the field. 35% of the films in the festival's main four categories were helmed by directors of color, marking the second biggest group of BIPOC-led projects behind the 2020 high-water mark of 44%.

Many studios around the world are still well behind the mark when it comes to establishing true diversity in their programming, prompting creatives like Marcus Ryder to put these companies to task and examine how their actions are - or are not - speaking louder than their words. "What does 'authentic' portrayal of under-represented look like and how can we judge it?" Ryder wrote in a Variety op-ed late last week, pointing to a recent checklist created by the British East Asians in Theater and on Screen (BEATS) to foster better representation onscreen, specifically for the BBC. Necessitated by recent findings from a Creative Diversity Network study that employment numbers for Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people were down both in front of and behind the camera from the year before in the UK. BEATS hopes to reinvigorate the conversation around what British studios should be doing to embrace true diverse storytelling. "What BEATS' criteria demonstrates is that authenticity is not about specific cultural signifiers but about how you approach your characters. The BBC would do well to heed this when it finally publishes its guidelines as to what 'diverse stories and portrayal on-screen' really means."

Comedian Suni Reyes is calling on the powers that be in Hollywood and on Broadway to open up more space for authenticity in creating stories for the Latino community, rather than just "checking the box." "This is a problem we have in Hollywood," Reyes said. "They think they got a Puerto Rican, so we don't need any more Puerto Ricans. Hollywood doesn't go 'We have the white person, so there's no more [need for] white people.'” The BILLIONS actress shared her struggles with navigating the onslaught of negative news during COVID over the last year, saying it was these often equal parts depressing and infuriating headlines that made her start creating her own content. “When I do these characters I always try to punch up," she said. "Elevate the voices of the people who are not usually being heard or given the importance they should be given."

NBCUniversal's Global Talent Development & Inclusion team has opened applications for this year's Universal Writers Program. The one year paid program is geared toward giving up-and-coming screenwriters the chance to develop two feature scripts under the mentorship of execs from DreamWorks, Focus Features, and Universal Pictures, focusing specifically on the company's goals of supporting and empowering diverse storytelling that reflects its audience. Applications are due February 21st!

The team at NBCUniversal has also partnered with the Ruderman Family Foundation to make their casting process more accessible to actors with disabilities. Along with CBS and the BBC, NBC Universal has signed a pledge, developed by the foundation, to recognize and actively include people with disabilities both in front of and behind the camera. "By having such an influential entity like NBCUniversal take this bold stand, we hope to continue to see others join us in striving to create more opportunities for people with disabilities in entertainment," Ruderman Family Foundation President Jay Ruderman said in a statement.

2021 Tony Awards Will Coincide with Broadway's Reopening

Voting will soon open for the 74th annual Tony Awards, though the actual date of the event continues to be left to question. The Broadway League confirmed late last week that the awards would happen "in coordination with the reopening of Broadway," though it's anyone's guess when that could end up being. The approximately 784 voters will cast their ballots from March 1st to the 15th of this year, considering shows that opened between April 2019 and February 2020.

COVID Updates

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) has penned a letter to President Biden informing him that union members are ready to help in building COVID vaccination sites across the country: "Stagehands are masters at improvising to get the job done for the client. We're ready if this time the client is The American People."

Actors' Equity was quick to join IATSE's call to the front lines: "Our collective