9:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Tarana J. Burke and Mervyn Marcano Ink CBS Studios Overall Deal
Tarana J. Burke and Mervyn Marcano are putting down roots.
The founder of the #MeToo movement and her producing partner's Field/House Productions have inked a multiple-year producing deal with CBS Studios. Under the pact, Burke and Marcano will team with the ViacomCBS-backed studio to develop scripted, unscripted and documentary fare for linear and streaming platforms.
"In our quest to partner with compelling storytellers, Tarana and Mervyn stand out,” said CBS Studios president David Stapf. “Their drive and leadership as stewards of change brings a powerful and distinct voice to advancing stories of inclusion and impact. They are clearly magnets for many whose voices need to be heard and we’re excited to work alongside them in this new venture."
Burke has spent three decades working at the intersection of racial justice, arts and culture, anti-violence and gender equity. Ranked Time's person of the year in 2017 and one of the magazine's most influential people the following year, her theory of "empowerment through empathy" is changing the way the world thinks about sexual violence, consent and bodily autonomy. Her debut memoir, Unbound, will be published in the fall by Flatiron.
"Creating space for new narratives has always been an integral part of cultural change work," Burke said. “Field/House is a platform for those new narratives. This partnership gives us the reach and scale to ensure that we build new audiences for new voices."
Field/House's goal is to produce stories that highlight underrepresented voices and champions narratives from storytellers who represent "the rest of us."
Marcano's credits as a producer include YouTube's Resist, BET's Finding Justice as well as an untitled longform docuseries at HBO and a film special for HBO Max. He has nearly two decades of leadership experience with social change organizations, Marcano heads communications and storytelling work at Blackbird, a hub for racial and social justice movements. He also provides strategic counsel to issue campaigns and is a well-recognized source for journalists around the world. Before founding Blackbird, he served in senior leadership roles for ColorOfChange, MediaJustice and The League of Young Voters.
"We’re thrilled to be building a powerful vehicle for inclusive stories with CBS Studios,” said Marcano. “Our goal has always been to create a pipeline of culturally progressive programming with our diverse network of creatives and storytellers. We look forward to working with the team at CBS Studios as these stories find their homes across the media ecosystem.”
Burke and Marcano's deal arrives as CBS — both the broadcast network and CBS Studios — has made diversity and inclusion a top priority under CEO George Cheeks. The duo considered pacts with other studios but ultimately signed with CBS given the studio's ability to sell to both internal and outside platforms.
Since Cheeks took over, the studio has inked partnership deals with the NAACP and police reform group 21CP Solutions. The latter pact is designed to help the studio's numerous police and legal dramas. CBS also put in place a number of diversity and inclusion standards to ensure key scripted and unscripted development resources go to BIPOC creators, with similar goals for improving inclusion in its writers rooms.