April 2007

In this issue:

  • 10th Annual Impact Awards Gala
  • Esther Renteria, A True Latina Leader
  • Writers Program
  • Univision and Children’s Programming
  • Ken Burns and “The War”
  • The National Conference for Media Reform
  • Congratulations to John Trasvina, MALDEF President and General Counselor
  • Kimberly Meyers to Hoead the Writers Guild of America West Diversity Department

10th Annual Impact Awards Gala

The men look dashing in their tuxedos and the women lovely in their beautiful gowns. Champagne has been served and the celebratory mood is felt all through the Ballroom. On February 23rd, NHMC held its 10th Annual Impact Awards Gala at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The Masters of Ceremony for the evening were the hilarious and provocative Latino trio Culture Clash who kept the guests roaring with laughter while moving along the Award Presentations. Each year the Impact Awards are given to Latinos for outstanding performances in the entertainment industry. America Ferrera, who won this year’s Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a TV Comedy for “Ugly Betty”, received an award for Outstanding Performance in a Comedy Television Series. Actress Eva Longoria of “Desperate Housewives” presented the award to her fellow ABC colleague. The multi-talented Roselyn Sánchez from the hit CBS TV series “Without a Trace” received the Outstanding Performance in a Dramatic Television Series award. Fellow CBS actor Adam Rodriguez presented the award. Judy Reyes received an award for Outstanding Performance in a Comedy Television Series for her starring role in NBC TV series “Scrubs.” Judy’s TV husband Donald Faison presented the award. First-time Academy Award nominee Adriana Barraza was awarded the Impact Award for Outstanding Performance in a Motion Picture for her dramatic portrayal of Amelia in BABEL. Lupe Ontiveros, Golden-Globe nominee and matriarch of Latino Actors presented and received the award on Ms. Barraza’s behalf. Edward James Olmos received a standing ovation for his Lifetime Achievement Award. The award-winning actor, producer, director, and activist’s celebrated career was highlighted in a video that played like a mini-documentary. From his first big break in Luis Valdez’s play, ZOOT SUIT for which he received a Tony Award Nomination; to his popular role as Lt. Martin Castillo in the TV series, "Miami Vice" to his Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his performance in STAND AND DELIVER, Edward is proving to be one of our national treasures. "No one can forget his stellar performance in Selena nor his commanding presence in "Battlestar Galactica," said Alex Nogales. "And now he has turned to directing and dazzled us with his skill in the East Los Angeles classic WALKOUT." NHMC television network partners attended as well, including ABC Entertainment President, Steve McPhearson; CBS Entertainment President, Nina Tassler; NBC Entertainment President, Kevin Riley and present for FOX was John Landgraf, President and General Manager of FX Networks. “We are delighted to present Impact Awards to those extraordinary individuals who continue to express our ethnic richness, talents and culture on the big and small screens, as well as those corporations which have demonstrated great commitment to the Latino community and diversity over the years,” said Alex Nogales. Special thanks to our Dinner Sponsors: The Walt Disney Company and Sabán Capital Group, as well as to the rest of our sponsors listed in the dinner program. Congratulations to Acasia Flores from the NHMC team, for organizing another superb event and to Inez González for coordinating the stage presentation.

Esther Rentería, a True Latina Leader

On January 8, 2007 a great Latina leader and co-founder of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Esther Rentería, passed away at her home in Montebello, California at the age of 67. Esther was a skilled journalist who was committed to increasing the presence of Latinos in broadcast media. In 1969, she was the first Latina to appear in a nightly newscast with the premiere of “Ahora!”’ on KCET-TV, and in 1970 she worked as an associate producer on “The Siesta Is Over”’ – a series based on issues relevant to the daily lives of Latinos in the U.S. For decades, Esther worked to increase the number of Latinos in news and other programs. She formed advocacy groups, met with general managers of stations, filed petitions with the Federal Communications Commission and raised scholarship funds for Latino journalism students. Congresswoman Solis recognized the life of Esther at the House of Representative. “She understood the importance of Latino children watching people on television who looked like them and could relate to them. Esther’s endless advocacy and enthusiasm helped increase and positively modify the presence of Latinos in the media,” said the Congresswoman. More importantly for us here at NHMC, Esther co-founded our successful non-profit organization, which after 21-years old continues her mission of opening doors for Latinos in the media, while fighting the negative stereotyping against us. “I will miss her,” said Alex Nogales. “She was a lioness in demanding Latino participation in media and she was also a good person who loved her friends and her community.” Esther is survived by her husband, Martin Rentería, former chief of police for the Montebello Unified District’s police department, four sons, and a sister. Rest in peace Esther, thank you for your leadership and service to the Latino community.

Writers Program

The National Latino Media Council’s Fall 2006 Writers Program was held in Burbank, CA from November 13th to December 15th. Geoff Harris mentored 11 talented and promising writers: Benjamin Lobato, Rafael García, Jessica López, Alexis García, Luis Remesar, Leslie Valdéz, Elizabeth Otero, George Jason Nieves, Antonio Olivas, Fermín Saldaña and Tristen Sotomayor. Davah Avena, a participant from a previous session, audited the program. During the 5 week session, both NBC and ABC brought guest speakers to the writers’ workshop to give the participants inside information about the business. Each participant completed a script during the program. All scripts are now being read by Network Executives from ABC and NBC. Tristen Sotomayor, one of this year’s participants writes: "The NHMC Writers Workshop has opened up so many doors for me, doors that under other circumstances would be closed off. The unique opportunity to work with a group of incredibly talented writers as well as meet with network executives about the future of my career would not have happened without this program and without this organization. I write in order to illuminate aspects of the human condition, and their advocacy will ensure that other voices like mine will continue to be heard in the future. I thank the NHMC for this fantastic opportunity, one which I will always be grateful for." Antonio Olivas, a second time participant writes: "I found the NHMC’s Writer’s Program to be immensely helpful to my career. With the guidance of the Program Mentor, Geoff Harris, and the exposure to various Screenwriters and Show Runners, I have gained knowledge and insight that I would not be normally exposed to. The results of the program are that I have two spec scripts, a ‘Medium’ and a ‘Without A Trace’ that I can now submit to potential Agents and Employers. I have also made many new valued friends. Continuing my television work I have written both drama and comedy pilots. My ability to do so is a direct result from the knowledge and skills I obtained from the National Hispanic Media Coalition’s wonderful program." Congratulations to Jessica López! She has been hired by the Disney Channel as a staff writer for the television show "Cory in the House." We continue to have monthly meeting to follow up with each of the writers and ensure their success and the success of the program. We would like to give special thanks to NBC, ABC, and Southwest Airlines for their commitment to diversity and for once again sponsoring our Writers’ Program.

Univision and Children’s Programming

On March 27th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the $12.3 billion sale of Univision Communications Inc. (“Univision”), to Broadcasting Media Partners, Inc. after Univision agreed to pay a record $24 million fine and improve the quality of its children’s programming. NHMC had filed a petition against Univision on the basis that the company had failed to comply with FCC regulations that require broadcasters to show at least three hours a week of educational shows for children. Basically, Univision was showing telenovelas such as Cómplices Al Rescate, Vivan Los Niños, and Amy, La Niña De La Mochila Azul as children’s programming. The Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, Inc. (“UCC”) also filed a similar petition against Univision. Both groups argued the Spanish-language teen telenovelas that Univision aired as children’s programming didn’t qualify as kids shows. The FCC agreed. Univision agreed to establish an advisory committee for educational and informational TV programming and will conduct training sessions to ensure that its employees understand the FCC rules and policies surrounding the agreement. “We’ve had a long and strong relationship with Univision’s former owners and we look forward to establishing strong relationships with Broadcasting Media Partners, the new owners of Univision. Both NHMC and Univision have similar goals- to offer the highest quality programming to the Latino community,” said Alex Nogales, NHMC President & CEO.

Ken Burns and THE WAR

As many of you know there is a tremendous controversy regarding the Ken Burns documentary entitled THE WAR, which is scheduled to air on PBS in September. The controversy occurred because Ken Burns is including the White, the African American and Japanese American experience in the documentary, but leaving out the Latino experience. Approximately 500,000 Latinos served this country during the war and Latinos earned more medals of honor than any other group, proportionally speaking. Just as important is that those returning Latino soldiers organized to fight the bias and discrimination that was rampant against Latinos during that era and many of our oldest civil rights organizations date to that period, to include LULAC, G.I Forum and from them MALDEF and National Council of La Raza. This exclusion from the documentary has galvanized the Latino community as few issues have. The Latino leadership from across the nation has protested the exclusion and after many heated meetings, PBS has agreed to include the Latino experience in all the educational materials that will accompany the documentary as well as in the DVD of the THE WAR. Ken Burns has also agreed to include Latinos in the documentary, but where, in what context and for how long is still up in the air. Right now, there is a battle of semantics going on between Ken Burns and the Latino leadership. Ken says Latinos will be included in the production of the film and that additional content will be shot and incorporated into the documentary. The community leadership has responded that it wants the documentary to be opened and edited to include Latinos. What is adding fuel to the controversy is that Burns’ team refuses to agree to the word “edit” when referring to the inclusion, throwing the entire situation into a tailspin. What gives us hope that this matter will be resolved appropriately is that Hector Galán – a prominent Latino documentarian, has been hired to work with Ken to make the inclusion of Latinos into the documentary a reality. However, as of this date Hector has not sat down with Ken to map out where the Latino inclusion is going to occur, in what context and approximately for how long. Hector Galán is a man of integrity, committed to his community and forceful in his views of Latino participation in all media areas. We have complete trust that Hector will stand up for our inclusion in a way that is equitable and fair. It’s important that this meeting with Ken take place soon so that Hector can hopefully assure us that Latinos will be included in the documentary in a just and equitable manner. If he cannot, then the Latino leadership will have no choice but to take the issue even further, with all the members of Congress and with the corporations underwriting the documentary. We expect this matter to be resolved, one way or another within the week and we’ll post the result immediately.

The National Conference for Media Reform

More than 3,000 people from across the nation and around the World attended the third National Conference on Media Reform, which was held in Memphis, Tennessee in January. The conference was held very appropriately during the Martin Luther King Weekend in the City where this great Civil Rights leader was assassinated. This gave the conference a strong connection between media reform and civil rights. It’s true that this conference doesn’t have a history of a very diverse attendance, but in our opinion, this is more a reflection of the media reform movement than it is of the organizers’ effort to outreach to communities of color. For many reasons, the media reform movement is predominantly white. And it is the responsibility of all of us in our communities to make the connection between media and the different struggles we face at home. As Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Commissioner Copps often states, “even if the future of our media is not your number one issue, it ought to be your second most important; and that is because Americans get their input and develop their views about all these other critical issues that you care about through the funnel and the filter of big media.” The welcome matt at the media reform conference is set for all of us, and now it is our responsibility to participate and have our communities show up at the next one. NHMC organized the “Diversity in Media Content & Representation” panel at the conference. The panel addressed the questions: What is diversity? Why is it necessary? How should it be implemented? It is one thing to agree on diversity, it is something else to advance policies that are going to bring that into reality. It is essential that in an industry where great barriers are placed to limit entry, that diversity is not only protected but encouraged. The session addressed factors including employment, programming, procurement, governance and philanthropy. The panel made the connection between the lack of diversity in media and the importance of national media policy to remedy the situation. Our Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition partners who participated in the panel included Karen Narasaki, President and Executive Director of the Asian American Justice Center; Mark Reed, National Representative for American Indians in Film & TV Grand Coalition and Alex Nogales, President & CEO of the NHMC. The discussion was well received by the participants and illustrated the benefits of having a multi-ethnic media coalition in any movement struggling for equality.

Congratulations to John Trasviña, MALDEF President and General Counsel

In November of last year the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation’s leading Latino legal organization, selected John Trasviña as its new President and General Counsel. Mr. Trasviña is the 6th leader of the nearly forty-year-old organization. “Being president of MALDEF is a high honor and privilege,” stated Mr. Trasviña. “Latinos are shaping the future of America and MALDEF carries the huge responsibility of ensuring that all Latinos are free to participate equally at all levels of society.” “MALDEF’s work is now more important than ever before. John is the right lawyer, the right national leader, and has the experience and strong commitment to our community to lead the organization at this important time,” stated Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers of America and President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. “We look forward to working with John in his new position leading MALDEF and defending the legal rights of Latinos throughout the nation,” said Alex Nogales.

Kimberly Meyers to Head the Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) Diversity Department

The Writers Guild of America West has appointed Kimberly Myers as its director of diversity. Previously, Myers was head of development for feature films, TV series and telefilms at Maya Pictures (WALK OUT), a production company dedicated to the American Latino market and owned and operated by Moctesuma Esparza. Before that, she held exec slots at Fox Television Studios, TNT and at New York’s PBS station, Thirteen/WNET. Myers launched her career in New York as an associate producer for the film unit of "Saturday Night Live." Myers’ duties at the Guild will include designing, developing and implementing a slate of programs and activities to increase employment access for protected-class writers, including older writers, female writers, writers of color, gay and lesbian writers and disabled writers. Kim will also be a liaison with production companies, producers, networks, and studios to promote a higher profile for writers of diverse backgrounds. She will also serve as the guild’s primary rep in affirmation action and employment access. Congratulations Kim- we look forward to working with you to bring more Latinos into the film and television industry.]]>

National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is a woman-led 501(c)(3) non-profit civil and human rights organization that was founded to eliminate hate, discrimination, and racism toward the Latino communities.
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