Friday, October 12, 2007

Whew, summer is gone…

Shows and nets are gearing up for the fall launch, studios are positioning feature promotions through the upcoming holidays, EMMYS have come and gone, PRISM Awards entries are rolling in, and I am reflecting on what fall means.

Twenty-five years ago I came up with the concept/idea to form EIC with great supportive input from EIC Executive Vice President Marie Gallo Dyak. Co-Founder Ralph Andrews, a controversial but loveable, energetic top game show producer, brought entertainment expertise and insider knowledge. The late Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Jack Anderson, a man of controversy in his own right, but an extremely optimistic and energizing personality, brought political connections. We seemed like an odd lot to tackle the notion that the power and influence of the entertainment industry could be brought to bear on health and social issues…but Jack, Ralph, and I incorporated EIC to do just that.

We each had different but complementary strategies…the main question was, 'what do we do first?' We quickly hit a crossroad of organizational development and three key directions emerged.

  1. Build a bridge between Hollywood and public policy makers and federal officials in Washington;
  2. Provide resource information on various depictions to the creative community (a concept supported by the late writer/director Larry Stewart), and;
  3. Maximize the reach of the industries' “celebrity power” to drive public awareness about issues… founding directors Bill Utz, Michele Lee, Tim Conway, David Goldsmith, Jay Rodriguez, Herman Rush, Gerald McRaney, Tim Reid, Nancy Dockry, and Renée Valente each supported some or part of each strategy by attending events around the country and even abroad, all in the name of the EIC.
So what did we do? We took on as much as we could possibly handle to create quality work that spotlighted each strategy…we targeted resources, and each director (in their own way) put forth their best skills to build a new organization.

Our greatest concern was to reverse a trend that exploited drug use by making it glamorous, comedic, sexy, macho and attractive to audiences. Ralph had the notion that positive reinforcement could be a dynamic strategy to see the industry come on board to support the EIC mission. Ralph was vested in the potential of positive recognition and getting the White House involved, so we created the Nancy Reagan Drug Abuse Prevention Award which has morphed into today’s EIC-produced PRISM Awards television special on FX Network. With the Reagans in the White House we had access to both the political and entertainment world; however, we were ever conscious to be non-partisan in the best interest of the public and in the best interest of not polarizing the issues we addressed...or our mission “to bring the power and influence of the entertainment industry to bear on health and social issues”. We all set high standards for ourselves and soon the quality of our work spoke for itself. Early on we were recognized with a Senate Resolution of support, and the President’s Private Public Sector Initiative Award, a beautiful Rose Garden Ceremony.

Ralph was the avid promoter of recognition and awards (the 4th strategy), and over time has proven to be 100% accurate that positive reinforcement is a powerful tool to engage the creative community to understand the importance of the issues. EIC’s strategic formula to laud entertainment creators for a job well done has taken hold. Our formula embraces basic principles that speak to the value of being non-judgmental, supporting volunteerism, providing accurate information and resources to the creative community and not abusing or misusing the power of celebrity.

EIC has continued to do “good work” in the public interest as an organization of the industry, by the industry and for the industry because the original organizers respectfully contended with unique and complimentary views that formed the fundamental ingredients needed to build a strong and sound foundation for organizational development. The passion and will of each of the staff and volunteers has always been a spirit that is strong and vibrant. As we continue to go forward…I find clarity in the mission because of the contributions of all of the staff over the years and especially the founding Board Directors of the Entertainment Industries Council. Thank you.

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