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Oprah Joins Hollywood’s Elite In The Fight For More Black Films

By JAKE COYLE 11/06/13 10:29 AM ET EST AP

NEW YORK — NEW YORK (AP) — Oprah Winfrey has heard this story before.

oprah winfrey black filmsA wave of high-profile films about black people receives accolades. A heart-warming trend of greater on-screen equality is declared. Hollywood basks in its multiculturalism — and then returns to business as usual.

From the slavery odyssey “12 Years a Slave” to the day-in-a-life drama “Fruitvale Station,” this fall has been a banner season for films of racial struggle told without white protagonists and largely by black directors. As one of the stars of the Civil Rights history “Lee Daniels‘ The Butler,” Winfrey is a proud player in a rare moment for African-Americans at the movies. But she and many others have tired of celebrating occasional aberrations of what should be Hollywood’s regular output.

“We’ve been through this before,” says Winfrey. “I don’t want it to be, ‘Oh, gee, we had the 10 films and now it’s another five years before you see another one.'”  2013 is a historical high-point for black-themed films, a culmination of Obama-era cinema. But the filmmakers and actors who made this confluence happen are resolutely against being resigned to a mere trend story, soon to be followed by another lull in diversity.

Read on Oprah Joins Hollywood Elite-More Black Films

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Sexism In Hollywood: Female Screenwriters Far Less Likely To Sell Speculative Screenplays Than Men

sexism in hollywood

Thelma and Louise— Female Empowerment!

Article by Julie Zeilinger

It’s hardly a secret that women are underrepresented in many parts of the entertainment industry — and according to new research, female screenwriters aren’t immune to this gender gap.

Researcher Susana Orozoco found that women screenwriters’ scripts currently make up a smaller percentage of speculative script sales than any time in the last two decades. Spec scripts — scripts written without compensation based on the hope of selling the final product on the open market — are currently on the decline across the board in Hollywood. A March 2013 Vanity Fair article pointed to recent industry changes, such as the collapse of home-video sales (which once compensated for low box-office returns) and studios’ increasing interest in film franchises like “Harry Potter,” “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games” as some of the sources of waning interest in spec scripts.

But these industry changes hardly explain the gender imbalance amongst screenwriters of spec scripts that are picked up and, as Orozoco’s research demonstrates, female screenwriters are being hit especially hard. Orzoco found that between 1991 and 2000, women wrote 14 percent of spec scripts sold and only 9 percent between 2010 and 2012.

This decline in female-written spec scripts doesn’t just mean fewer professional opportunities for women hoping to break into the film industry, but also indicates that films which authentically depict women’s lives may be even harder to come by than they already are. “Thelma & Louise,” an iconic film about female empowerment, was written by female screenwriter Callie Khouri on spec. More recently, “Hope Springs,” a film that dared to openly delve into the topic of post-50 female sexuality, was also written by a female spec screenwriter, Vanessa Taylor.

The entertainment industry is notorious for it’s pathetic representation of women in all realms. For example, the Women’s Media Center found that in 2012, women comprised only 18 percent of key behind -the-scenes roles in films — a figure that has risen a mere 1 percent since 1998. These new statistics are disheartening, but they’re also a great reminder to support the female screenwriters whose scripts are produced when it counts: at the box office on opening weekend.

Sexism In Hollywood: Female Screenwriters Far Less Likely To Sell Speculative Screenplays Than Men.

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