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July 17, 2008


Initiatives Created by the Mayor's Task Force on Diversity in Film, Television And Commercial Production Announced at a Block Party Thrown by ABC Show Ugly Betty to Thank the Community for Hosting Production

Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber, Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting Commissioner Katherine Oliver today announced the launch a series of new initiatives created with the Mayor's Task Force on Diversity in Film, Television and Commercial Production. The new initiatives include a mentorship program designed to promote the recruitment of persons of color, women, veterans, and economically disadvantaged New Yorkers to the film and television industry and a specialized production training program. Also at the announcement, made at a block party thrown by the ABC hit Ugly Betty in Jackson Heights, Queens where the show recently moved, were Councilmember Letitia James, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Ugly Betty cast members America Ferrera, Ana Ortiz, Mark Indelicato, Tony Plana, and executive producers Joel Fields and Victor Nelli, Jr.

"New York City's film and television production industry is an increasingly significant part of our economy employing over a hundred thousand actors, producer, writers, cameramen, technicians and others, and the initiatives resulting from the work of the task force will go a long way towards ensuring that all New Yorkers, regardless of background, will have access to these jobs," said Deputy Mayor Lieber. "Supporting diverse industries is a vital part of our five borough economic development strategy, and I'm grateful for the work of the task force expanding opportunities within this sector."

"It is an honor to host the production of shows, like Ugly Betty, that are based on life in New York City," said Deputy Mayor Walcott. "Many New Yorkers possess the passion and skills to work in this industry, seeking greater access to hone their talents. I'd like to thank the participants of the task force who worked diligently to ensure that the same diversity represented at all levels on this set, can be the standard on other productions throughout New York City."

"Long before Betty started climbing the corporate ladder at Mode Magazine, back in 2006 my colleagues in the City Council and I created the Diversity Task force in order to ensure that those employed in the film and television industry reflected the character and vivaciousness of our great city," said Speaker Quinn. "Today, we continue our commitment in making sure that we create greater access to good paying, middle class jobs. I want to thank Deputy Mayor Lieber, Deputy Mayor Walcott and Commissioner Oliver for announcing today's initiatives, which will help those working in this medium hone their skills and perfect their craft."

"With the recent increase to the 'Made in NY' incentive program, more and more productions are now calling New York City home," said MOFTB Commissioner Oliver. "This is an opportune moment for us to focus on our diversity goals for New Yorkers so that our thriving entertainment industry can more accurately reflect the diverse population of the City."

Launched in October 2006, the Task Force was commissioned to explore initiatives and opportunities that would help to diversify employment in the City's production industry. The Task Force is comprised of representatives from the Mayor's Office, City agencies, the City Council, the production industry, labor groups and industry associations, all of whom are committed to ensuring a diverse group of New Yorkers has access to job opportunities created by the booming film and television industry. The programs announced today will be funded with $195,000 from the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City and $75,000 in City funds secured by the City Council.

Diversity in Film, Television and Commercial Production Initiatives:

The "Made in NY" Mentorship Program
Independent Feature Project (IFP), the nation's oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers, was selected to develop and operate the "Made in NY" Mentorship Program, which will promote the recruitment of persons of color, women, veterans and economically disadvantaged New Yorkers to the film and television industry, increasing access through mentor relationships. In its initial cycle, the program will serve 15 individuals who will meet with career coaches and build relationships to help ensure their career growth and ability to retain gainful employment in the entertainment industry. In addition, the "Made in NY" Mentorship Program will place mentees in positions on films, television shows, and commercials. They will also attend monthly workshops featuring guest speakers including cinematographers, editors, production designers, directors, and writers.

"We're thrilled to join with the City on this important initiative as IFP has a longtime commitment to encouraging diversity in the entertainment industry," said Michelle Byrd, executive director, IFP. "Increasing diversity behind-the-scenes is critical to ensuring that audiences are exposed to new and different points of view."

Production Training Program
A request for proposals (RFP) for the development of a Production Training Program was released today by MOFTB and the Department of Small Business Services. This union-track pilot production training program will help persons of color, women, veterans and economically disadvantaged New Yorkers gain the skills needed to succeed at a specific craft. The program will ultimately create opportunities in the entertainment industry for individuals to gain

membership into a craft union, and will provide trainees with an additional year of job placement assistance.

Education - Blueprint on Film, Video and New Media
In 2004 and 2005, the New York City Department of Education began a process of developing and implementing Blueprints for Teaching and Learning in the Arts. This is the first comprehensive framework for arts education ever designed for use throughout the entire New York City school system, providing a standards-based, rigorous approach to teaching the arts. In conjunction with the MOFTB, the Department of Education is creating a Blueprint on Film, Video and New Media that will support and define instruction in these areas for New York City public schools. The Film Blueprint Committee is composed of DOE film and video teachers, industry, union and guild representatives, and members of the higher education film community. The Blueprint on Film, Video and New Media will be published in spring 2009.

Workforce Diversity Initiative in Partnership with Brooklyn Workforce Innovations - The "Made in NY" Production Assistant Training Program
In February 2006, the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting and Brooklyn Workforce Innovations (BWI), a nonprofit organization, launched the "Made in NY" Production Assistant (PA) Training Program in order to place diverse New Yorkers into paid production jobs. The "Made in NY" PA Training Program, which consists of four weeks of intensive full-time training by industry professionals, followed by two years of job placement and career counseling, has already certified 124 "Made in NY" PAs, 98 percent of whom are people of color. BWI has placed graduates of the program with more than 500 productions, including feature films, episodic and reality TV, commercials, music videos and industrials, and it has assisted them in obtaining advanced positions.

Career Panels
For the last eighteen months, the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting has hosted a series of career panels throughout the five boroughs designed to educate students and interested New Yorkers about the employment opportunities available in the City's thriving entertainment industry. At each panel, industry professionals have shared their experiences working in film and television and detailed their own personal career paths.

CUNY Career Fair
The "Made in NY" Production Conference & Career Fair took place in May 2008, at Borough of Manhattan Community College, as a direct outgrowth from the Task Force recommendations. This free event was open to all media and theatre production students registered at schools within the City University of New York (CUNY) system and consisted of panel discussions, workshops and a traditional career fair with representatives from studios, production companies, and local unions.

"Made in NY" Diversity Award
The "Made in NY" Diversity Award, created by the Task Force to honor one person every year that has made significant contributions to increase diversity in the local entertainment industry, was first presented in May 2007, at the "Made In NY" Awards. The "Made in NY" Awards is an annual event designed to celebrate the City's thriving entertainment industry.

To celebrate its move back to New York City, the cast and crew of Ugly Betty is hosting a block party in Jackson Heights on the street where the show's producers plan to shoot the Suarez house exterior this season. Based on Yo Soy Betty La Fea, the groundbreaking Columbian telenovela that became an international phenomenon, Ugly Betty is an award winning series from ABC Studios that tells the story of Betty Suarez, played by Ferrera, a sweet, intelligent and hardworking girl from Queens who tries to make it at a fashion magazine. The series, whose pilot was shot in New York City, began shooting its third season this month after moving production from L.A. to its new studio home at Silvercup Studios East in Long Island City.

"Our heroine Betty Suarez is a true New Yorker. She's a daughter of a Mexican immigrant who works at the top fictional fashion magazine set in New York City and is a symbol of the American dream and diversity in the workplace. We are proud that our show can reflect the Mayor's Task Force's initiatives to promote diversity in the City's production industry," said executive producer Joel Fields.

"There isn't any place like New York where you can shoot and replicate its authenticity, beauty, grit, edge, multiculturalism and energy. New York has an amazing talent pool of actors, production staff, technicians, studios and locations that we can't wait to delve into and incorporate into our show. We're excited to work with our new friends in Jackson Heights and portray the neighborhood and all of New York as an essential character in our show," said executive producer Silvio Horta.


Andrew Brent / Dawn Walker   (212) 788-2958

Marybeth Ihle (Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting)   (212) 489-6710, ext. 247

Shirley Limongi (Speaker Quinn)   (212) 788-7125

Mozell Miley (ABC Studios)   (212) 456-6444   

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