- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rating diversity

The National Latino Media Council and the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition have noted improvement by the major networks in demonstrating greater ethnic diversity, but they maintain it’s time for greater progress, TVGuide.com notes.

The council has been working with groups including the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition and American Indians in Film & TV since 1999 to increase minority hiring and representation in the broadcast TV industry.

Karen K. Narasaki, chairwoman of APAMC, said there has been “marginal progress,” as all four networks increased the number of starring roles for Asian-American actors in series. In one case, that meant going from one role to two.

She said there are far too many all-white shows or shows that by dint of their setting should have Asian-American characters but don’t.

She noted the cast diversity on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” created and produced by a black woman, Shonda Rhimes.

Alex Nogales, president and chief executive of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, lauded ABC, which he said “finally got it” and has Hispanic characters in its most popular shows, including “Desperate Housewives” and the freshman hit “Ugly Betty.” He said the network is winning over more Hispanic viewers.

In annual “report cards,” ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox are graded in areas including their hiring of minority actors, writers and directors; development of programs with ethnic diversity; and overall commitment to diversity issues. For shows airing from fall 2005 to fall 2006, the National Latino Media Coalition gave ABC the highest overall grade, A-minus, followed by a B-plus for CBS and a B each for NBC and Fox. The Asian Pacific American Media Coalition gave NBC, ABC and Fox a C-plus each, while CBS earned a C.

In the coalition’s first report card, in 2000, the networks received mostly Ds.

The virtual absence of any American Indians on-screen or in the industry earned a flurry of Fs and Ds from American Indians in Film & TV.

Boy goes down

The founder of the “Girls Gone Wild” video empire was sentenced to community service yesterday for his company’s guilty plea to federal charges of failing to monitor the ages of the women in its videos.

The company, Mantra Films Inc., also agreed to pay $1.6 million in fines for using drunken 17-year-olds in videos it filmed on Panama City, Fla., beaches during spring break and failing to properly label its DVDs and videos as required by federal law.

U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak told company founder Joe Francis that he added the community service because it did not appear a fine would be a meaningful punishment.

The fine represents less than 3 percent of Mantra Films’ profits since 2002 and just 12 percent of Mantra’s 2005 profits, Judge Smoak said. Mr. Francis makes an estimated $40 million a year.

“It does not take a very brave man to go out and corner a girl in the middle of spring break who had four drinks,” Judge Smoak told Mr. Francis.

Mr. Francis, 33, said his policy has always been not to film girls under 18 and that the girls filmed in Panama City lied about their ages.

The judge ordered Mr. Francis, his company president, general counsel and chief financial officer to perform eight hours each of community service monthly for the next 30 months. However, Judge Smoak said the corporate officers could avoid the obligation, giving Mr. Francis the option of “stepping up” and serving 16 hours a month of community service by himself in their place.

Attorney Aaron Dyer, representing Mr. Francis and the company, said he did not know if Mr. Francis would take on the entire sentence himself.

Judge Smoak ordered Mr. Francis to read aloud in court a victim impact statement from one of the 17-year-old girls, who said she was emotionally tormented by her appearance on a “Girls Gone Wild” video and that the video damaged her relationship with her family.

Holiday watch

On tonight:

m Crazy for Christmas, 9 p.m. Lifetime: Roundabout story of a struggling mom-turned-limousine-driver (Andrea Roth) who learns that the eccentric moneybags she has been driving around on Christmas Eve is really her long lost dad.

m The Polar Express, 8, 10:30 p.m. ABC Family: Here are two more chances — in back-to-back showings — to see the animated version of the Chris Van Allsburg storybook about a boy who takes a spectacular train ride.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff and wire

reports.

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