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Abigail Disney is determined to exile “raping and pillaging” from Hollywood by backing Level Forward, a female-led company that will focus on producing a wide array of content from women and people of color, among other initiatives.
On Wednesday, Disney and her partner, Adrienne Becker, briefed reporters for the first time on their plans for Level Forward, which they launched in January. It turns out the company is a key investor in Rotten Apples, a website that serves as a database for consumers interested in learning whether anyone associated with a movie or TV show has been involved in allegations of misconduct. Rotten Apples launched in December in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
For example, type in the movie Shakespeare in Love, and the names Ben Affleck, Harvey Weinstein and Bob Weinstein pop up. In the case of Affleck, his name is linked to an article detailing the actor’s apology for groping someone. Harvey Weinstein’s name, of course, is linked to articles about the multitude of allegations brought against him.
Becker said Rotten Apples — which is clearly riffing on Rotten Tomatoes — is in the beta phase, and that it will be expanding. For example, it could begin including links to organizations helping victims of sexual misconduct or abuse.
If a show or film receives a “fresh” rating, it is accompanied with the message, “this movie has no known affiliation to anyone with allegations of sexual misconduct against them.”
Speaking from Europe via a video phone call, Disney — whose grandfather was Roy Disney, the brother of Walt Disney — said Level Forward is committed to backing authentic stories from women and minorities, as well as increasing diversity behind the camera. Only then will younger consumers hear the right message.
“We are committed to making business sense out of turning this stupid equation upside down, and taking raping and pillaging out of business plans once and for all,” Disney said.
Disney provided the seed money for Level Forward, which is also raising money from other investors.
The idea for Level Forward was born when Disney teamed with Killer Content to explore buying The Weinstein Co. following the Harvey Weinstein scandal. They withdrew their female-fronted bid, with Disney saying on Wednesday that it was a flawed process, and one she didn’t want to legitimize.
Disney and Becker also on Wednesday announced a number of key hires, as well as several projects. Former MTV president Christina Norma has joined Level Forward as a creative advisor, while a number of producers have also come aboard in various capacities, including Maximum’s Eva Price and Stephanie Allain (Dear White People), who will lead producing “pods.” Other producers working with Level Forward include Christine Vachon and Pam Koffler of Killer Films, Stephanie Laing and Donna Gigliotti.
Becker and Disney also revealed that Level Forward is backing Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick’s upcoming doc MeToo, which could be done in time for the Sundance Film Festival.
Disney is chairman of the board at Level Forward; Becker is CEO.
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