A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Any politician can ask Hollywood for money. But only a few can seek creative input.
Hillary and Chelsea Clinton will be in L.A. on Nov. 8 to promote two Clinton Foundation priorities: early childhood education and voluntary national service. The Clinton women have lined up a small group of TV execs, writers and showrunners to help plug the initiatives in partnership with the Producers Guild of America and the group’s president Mark Gordon, who will offer opening remarks at the Friday event and serve as MC. Rob Reiner will also make opening comments.
Among those set for a discussion are Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly, Modern Family co-showrunner Steven Levitan, Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes, New Girl creator Liz Meriwether, Shine America CEO Rich Ross, CBS chief Nina Tassler and Parenthood creator Jason Katims. The grassroots groups Next Generation and ServiceNation will host breakout sessions to brainstorm ways the entertainment industry can help get more Americans talking about the Clintons’ priorities.
“Specifically, we are hoping to bring together content creators and executives who have a particular interest in one of these topics and would be willing to serve as thought partners on the effort in some way, big or small,” Hollywood philanthropy adviser Greg Propper wrote to the TV execs, calling the event a way to help “popularize and normalize these important ideas.”
Zach Maurin, executive director of ServiceNation, said he is hopeful that Hollywood can get more Americans thinking about donating their time to worthy groups and causes.
“The public often doesn’t see the impact of national service,” said Maurin. “It’s out of sight, out of mind. It makes partnering with the entertainment industry even more valuable. We think this culture campaign, as well as the advocacy that we are doing, is going to help change the equation and put national service back on the to-do list for Americans.”
Next Generation vice president Ann O’Leary said their research has show that many parents don’t understand that simply talking and reading to their children at an early age can have a tremendous impact on their ability to do well in school.
“Talking to their child, reading to their child matters not only in the short term, in terms of actually improving their vocabulary, but also in the long term,” O’Leary said. “Talking is teaching.
“If we can get parents to really get that, then we will not only see an improvement in a child’s vocabulary when they’re three, we’ll see a return on that when they’re in seventh grade and they’re doing better on their reading assessments and on their math assessments,” added O’Leary, who has launched a special project — called Too Small to Fail — with the Clinton Foundation on the topic of early education.
“Hollywood can really help us — through their shows with babies or infants or toddlers — by sending messages about what parents really can do and how they do it,” she said.