Monday, July 30, 2007

Kudos to Lifetime

Recently I had the opportunity to congratulate Andrea Wong, President and CEO LIFETIME Television on her new position at a reception in Washington DC. Significant leadership from a host of women’s organizations filled the room. I found myself observing (while having some tasty shrimp and great crepes) and listening (in some instances eavesdropping) and learning about important women’s concerns. Hillary Clinton’s run for president and the need for special attention to specific women’s health concerns seemed to be hot topics of discussion.

As I was listening I flashed on a movie I recently watched about women’s suffrage, IRON JAWED ANGELS, starring Hillary Swank, and could only wonder how long will it take—more importantly why it takes so long—for social change to CHANGE from philosophy to action? To take root is one thing; for change to grow, blossom and become assimilated into society is another.

The recent political posturing of whether Hillary Clinton or John Edwards could better serve women further seasoned my thinking.

BOTTOM LINE: Who is better is not the issue at hand. The issue is about how men and women work together to support each other, for the common good and most importantly future generations. I applaud the commitment of Lifetime’s leadership to promote targeted programming for women and especially their most recent campaign to encourage women to vote.

Given the hum I heard about women’s health concerns, EIC will put into our 2008 program plan a PICTURE THIS forum to further explore development of depiction suggestions for the creative community. This meeting with bring together key leaders in the field of women’s health to deliberate on what issues of special interest to women are the most pressing to be communicated to the public through entertainment.

Such a meeting of women leaders convened by EIC, an entertainment industry entity, is imperative at a time when stories of Hollywood starlets behaving recklessly and taking chances with their health and safety have become ubiquitous, possibly skewing the perceptions of girls and young women during their formative years.

Who knows, down the road the bold headlines associated with Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and Lindsay Lohan may be positive ones. One day, these women may join the many female leaders who work tirelessly to accelerate the pace of social change.


*By the way…
When EIC was founded (1983), one of my founding principles was to establish an organization within the entertainment industry that could help to curb sexism, racism, ageism and encourage the notion that one should have control over his or her own life and not be weighed down by the “-isms.”

Yet as I worked to put the EIC Board of Directors and Trustees in place, not one woman was in the very top position. Among rising women executives at the time—Sherry Lansing, Renee Valente, Suzanne DePasse, Nancy Dockry among them—EIC had their support and, in fact, enlisted their efforts to guide us toward the future. However, top, leadership was in the hands of about a dozen male studio and network executives at the time.

I am delighted that Andrea Wong is one of many top female executives leading our industry today, and look forward to her numerous contributions of good ideas and great programming.

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