DGA Report Shows Top 40 Prime Time TV Lacks Diversity in Directing

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July 16, 2004

Nearly 40% of Top 40 Series Hired No Women Directors in 2003-04 Season

Los Angeles, CA - The Directors Guild of America today released a report on the employment of women and minority directors by television networks on the "top forty" prime time drama and comedy series in 2003-2004. The report shows that 86 percent of the episodes were directed by Caucasian males, and that women and minority directors continue to be missing from some of the best-known series line-ups.

In the most recent 2003-2004 season, 15 of the top forty shows have not hired women directors, 10 have not hired minority directors, and 6 have excluded both women and minority directors.

DGA President Michael Apted"The report reveals that producers and networks have failed to fulfill their contractual good faith obligation to hire more women and minority directors," said Michael Apted, DGA President and Chair of DGA Diversity Task Force. "For many years we have publicized the hiring records of the top forty shows, challenging the industry to open up employment opportunities, but all too often the producers' and the networks' commitment to diversity is simply not there."

The DGA has been tracking entertainment industry hiring practices for many years, and four years ago started singling out the top forty prime time drama and comedy television series. This year's top forty report shows that of the 865 total episodes in 2003-2004, Caucasian males directed 741 (86%); women directed 60 (7%); African Americans, 49 (6%); Latinos, 16 (2%); and Asian Americans directed only 10 episodes (1%).

The 2003-04 statistics show a significant decline in the hiring of women in particular – a drop from 11% last season to a mere 7% of total episodes this season. Statistics for minority directors have remained bleak, and virtually unchanged, over the past three years. The single exception is in the hiring of African American directors, which has increased from 3% (2000-01 season) to 6% (2003-04 season) of total episodes directed, in a minimal but steady 1% increase per year over the course of four years.

Following are some of the most egregious examples of the exclusion of women and minority directors in top forty prime time series for the 2003-2004 season:

6 SHOWS HIRED NO WOMEN AND NO MINORITY DIRECTORS:

  • Friends
  • Everybody Loves Raymond
  • Navy NCIS
  • Becker
  • Less Than Perfect
  • Malcolm in the Middle

9 MORE (15 total) HIRED NO WOMEN DIRECTORS:

  • CSI
  • Without a Trace
  • Law & Order: SVU
  • JAG
  • Yes, Dear
  • 24
  • According to Jim
  • The District
  • Good Morning, Miami

4 MORE (10 total) HIRED NO MINORITY DIRECTORS:

  • Law & Order
  • Two and a Half Men
  • Judging Amy
  • 8 Simple Rules
  • Will & Grace, Coupling, That '70s Show, and King of Queens hired only one or two directors for the entire series. They were included in the overall data, but are not singled out here

The following shows have demonstrated a four-year pattern of zero or minimal efforts in hiring women and/or minority directors:

  • Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS/Talk Productions) has not hired a woman director for any of its 96 episodes over the past four seasons. The show hired no minority directors this season; and hired minorities to direct only 3 out of 96 episodes in the past four seasons.
  • Friends (NBC/Warner Bros.) did not hire a woman director for any of the 92 episodes in its final four seasons. The show hired no minority directors this season, and only one minority director, who directed 3 out of 92 episodes, in the past four seasons.
  • JAG (CBS/Paramount Pictures Corp.) has not hired a woman director for any of its 99 episodes in the past four seasons. The show hired minority directors for only 4 out of 99 episodes in the past four seasons.
  • CSI (CBS/CBS Broadcasting) hired no women directors in the 2003-04 season, and only one woman to direct one of 92 episodes in the past four seasons. The show hired minorities to direct only 3 of 92 episodes in the past four seasons.
  • Malcolm in the Middle (FOX/Regency TV Productions) has not hired a minority director for any of its 90 episodes over the past four seasons. The show hired no women directors this season; only 4 of its 90 episodes over the past four seasons have been directed by women.
  • Although Judging Amy (CBS/20th Century Fox Film) has been proactive in hiring women directors (24 of 99 episodes), the show has not hired a minority director in the past four seasons.
  • According to Jim (ABC/Touchstone TV Prod.) has hired no women directors and only one minority director in 78 episodes over the past three seasons.
  • Yes, Dear (CBS/20th Century Fox Film) has not hired a woman to direct any of its 72 episodes over the past three seasons, and has hired minorities to direct only 3 out of 72 episodes.
  • And newcomer Navy NCIS (NBC/Paramount) hired no minorities or women in its first 20 episodes.

"Everybody may love Raymond, but the producers of Raymond evidently don't love women directors," said Apted. "It is inconceivable in this day and age that a hit show like Raymond, Friends or JAG can't even hire one woman director in four years and over ninety episodes. You really have to ask yourself, what are the showrunners and networks thinking?"

While employment opportunities for women and minorities on these top forty prime time television series were dismal overall, the following shows have shown a good faith effort in their hiring of directors during the recent 2003-2004 season:

  • Cold Case (CBS/Warner Bros.) hired women and minorities to direct 8 out of 21 episodes (38%).
  • The Practice (ABC/Kelley Productions) hired women and minorities to direct 8 out of 23 episodes (35%).

And there are three series that have defied the networks' trends for the past four seasons:

  • Third Watch (NBC/Warner Bros.) hired women and minorities to direct 40 out of 97 total episodes (41%) over the past four seasons.
  • Frasier (NBC/Paramount) hired women and minorities to direct 28 out of 73 total episodes (38%) over the past four seasons.
  • ER (NBC/Warner Bros.) hired women and minorities to direct 21 out of 81 total episodes (26%) over the past four seasons.

Both Third Watch and ER are executive produced by John Wells, whose efforts toward increased diversity are second to none. Wells created and runs the John Wells Mentor Program, which trains three minority and/or women directors per season, providing each with a stipend of $100,000. The money comes from Warner Bros. as part of a discretionary fund which John Wells controls and chooses to use for this highly successful program.

Paris Barclay"John Wells gave me my first job directing in television, and continues to be the exception in an industry of empty promises," stated Emmy Award Winning Director and DGA Third Vice President Paris Barclay, who also co-chairs the DGA's Diversity Task Force. "I don't understand why there isn't even one other producer on television willing to make even half of Wells' commitment."

Despite the discouraging results of this report, the DGA continues to place diversity as one of its top priorities. "To counter the argument that quality women and minority directors are difficult to find, the DGA and its African American, Asian, Latino and Women's Committees are holding meetings with producers, networks and studio representatives, introducing talented women and minority directors to key showrunners; we have formed the DGA Diversity Task Force, which, in partnership with a staff committee, constantly examines new ways of inducing real and substantive change; and every year we create extensive women and minority director contact lists which we make available to everyone," explained Apted. "And with few exceptions, these efforts have not yet translated into action by the producers and the networks."

One exception to this negative trend happened in March, when ABC/Touchstone announced the creation of the ABC/Touchstone Directing Assignment Initiative. With the support and collaboration of the DGA, this initiative was designed to provide women and minorities with directing opportunities on ABC produced prime time episodics. The program's goal is to assign 10 women and minorities to direct at least 20 television series episodes. Steve McPherson, President of ABC Primetime, is spearheading the initiative.

"We applaud Steve McPherson's tangible commitment to diversifying the directing pool, said Apted. "He and the DGA have mutual and immediate goal – to increase the number of women and minority directors employed for the 2004-2005 television season. The discouraging numbers we see in this current report will only strengthen our resolve to affect change. We will not quiet down until this happens."

Contact
Sahar Moridani -
Assistant Executive Director - Communications
(310) 289-5333
smoridani@dga.org