I attended a dinner a few weeks ago hosted by Marta Kauffman (co-creator of "Friends"), Gloria Steinam and the Women's Media Center. There were about twenty of us, women in entertainment, in the room. Interesting women; Judith Aidoo, who learned to earn money from her mother who is from Ghana. Evidently it is women in Ghana who are the wheeler dealers. She made her money on Wall Street and is spending it in radio, owning several stations, on Broadway, backing the "Bridge and Tunnel' Broadway debut, and in film, where she has opened a studio and produced her first feature, "Blackout". Theresa McBride, a single mother from New Mexico who recently sold her technology company for 200 million. Her son is a d.p. who has worked on many worthy indie features, and she wondered why they weren't being seen. So she bought an online distribution venue and has now hooked up a deal with Regal Theatres and an as yet unamed tv network, to distribute the undistributed in a novel new way. Here's hoping "Racing Daylight" is one of the first to take advantage of this model. Fingers crossed.
Beth Fraikorn, a sales agent, Meridith Wagner of Lifetime, Melissa Silverstein, who runs several blog sites, Amy Schor Ferris, a writer, Rona Oberman was in advertising and is reinventing herself, Terry Lawler and Carey Graeber of NYWIFT, Cindy Kreager, in banking, Alysse Bezahler, a UPM, Chris Hegedus, an all around award winning filmmaker, as well as the WMC crew, Carol Jenkins, Glennda Testone, Kathy Vermazen, and Rebekah Spicuglia, all accomplished women before they came together to champion women in the media.
We were told that a similar event had been held in LA a few months earlier with the same mandate; for women to make back room deals just as men do.
Now I've got to say that when I received the invitation I thought I was being invited to listen to a panel of talking heads bandy about the woeful state of women in the entertainment industry. After all the women's movement came to a standstill about 10 years ago and the numbers on women in Hollywood have backslid, so clearly there's a lot to talk about. But as the day apporached and the emails grew more detailed I realized we were being called to a summit. And it was in fact several hours of constructive talk. Not complaining, but brainstorming over excellent food, wine, and service. We talked about our kids, our lives, and our work, and I felt, on the drive home, that something had shifted.
The immediate impact on my projects; "Racing Daylight" and the upcoming "Slap&Tickle" will be known in the coming weeks. But the drums are beating. The call to action has been made. It is time to empower ourselves, to stop waiting for the 'guys' to let us into the backroom. Thanks to all of these amazing women who have invited me into the 'new' backroom, which was a private dining room at the Four Seasons. May we rally to renew a sense of consciousness not only in our media, but in our lives.