2:00pm PT by THR staff
NBC Launches Directing Initiative for Unscripted Programing
NBC is attempting to change the unscripted programming landscape with the launch of the Alternative Directors Program, the industry’s first directing initiative for alternative series.
Intended for female and ethnically diverse talent with at least one directing credit, the annual program will help feed the pipeline for new talent behind the camera on alternative series on NBC as well as shows produced by Universal Television Alternative Studio. Spearheading the initiative is Meredith Ahr, president of Universal Television Alternative Studio, and Karen Horne, NBC’s senior vp programming talent development and inclusion, who oversees the company’s robust onscreen and behind-the-camera diversity efforts.
The Alternative Directors Program will offer five directors the opportunity to shadow a seasoned helmer over several weeks including prep, production and post. NBC’s participating shows for the program’s inaugural year are America's Got Talent, Hollywood Game Night, The Voice, The Wall and World of Dance. The directors who will serve as mentors are Alan Carter, Ivan Dudynsky, Russell Norman and Alex Rudzinski.
"The Alternative Directors Program creates a big opportunity to start changing the unscripted landscape and flip the paradigm on who calls the shots in our industry," said Ahr. "While much of the conversation around inclusion has been focused on scripted programming, we believe that a big piece of the puzzle is missing without equal concentration on the unscripted space, which makes up a big percentage of what audiences are watching every week. With this program, the goal is to not only give emerging directors the extraordinary opportunity to learn from the best in the business, but also to galvanize the industry as a whole to make strides towards increasing representation behind the camera on alternative series."
Added Horne: "NBC has always led the way in broadcasting an inclusive view of our world from airing the first African-American woman on television in 1939 to the first interracial kiss on Star Trek. So it should be of no surprise that our legacy of groundbreaking 'firsts' also extends to our talent pipeline programs, where over the past almost two decades, we have created many of the industry's first initiatives aimed at developing diverse talent in front and behind the camera. Our hope is that the Alternative Directors Program will follow in the tradition of our long standing scripted tent pole initiatives by creating a wider breadth of representation of people from different backgrounds in unscripted programming."
With the new initative, NBC rounds out its directing programs that are designed to increase the pool of diverse talent. The network’s existing programs — Female Forward and the Emerging Director Program — are designed for scripted directors, and with the addition of the Alternative Directors Program, NBC has created the same opportunity for diverse unscripted directors. The new program also joins NBC's diversity and inclusion initiatives that have discovered and developed diverse onscreen and behind-the-scenes talent, including Kat Coiro, Hannelle Culpepper, Nisha Ganatra, Jenny Hagel, Lil Rel Howery, Mindy Kaling, Sharat Raju, Danielle Sanchez-Witzel and Alan Yang.
Directors can apply for the program’s initial 2018-19 season at NBCUniTIPS.com. The submission deadline is Friday, June 29. Eligible candidates are required to have at least one unscripted or scripted television directing credit. Unscripted programming can include, but is not limited to, live sports, award shows, game shows and variety shows.