ABC, Disney seek scripts by Latinos

Program increases writers' level of access

Latino screenwriters will be given the chance to submit scripts for use in existing ABC or Disney television series.

The program was set up in 1995 by ABC and the Writers Guild of America West as a way of trying to increase employment of Latino scribes on primetime network shows.

“We recommit to it every year,” said Kevin Brockman, a spokesman for ABC. He recalled that, under the program, at least three Latino writers had turned out scripts that ended up on the air, including one for an episode of “Cracker.”

Under the WGAW/Disney accord, scripts from Latino writers are reviewed by the Story Analysts Guild and some are forwarded to ABC for consideration. Submissions are limited to the first 100 half-hour comedy or one-hour drama scripts received at the WGA between Aug. 31 and Sept. 18.

Level of access

“It will introduce Latino writers to network employers, because very often Latino writers don’t have the same level of access as white, male writers,” said Zara Taylor, exec administrator for employment diversity at WGAW. “This is pretty much of a precedent-setting program. The potential is greater for writers to actually get assignments.”

Taylor said that since 1994 the guild has had a similar arrangement with NBC for Latino writers of sitcoms and dramas, and it is negotiating a pact for movie-of-the-week writers. At CBS, four Latino writers received writing assignments as a result of a WGAW deal six years ago, Taylor said, “and now we’re trying to get them to revisit a new access program.”

At Disney, the program is open to any Latino writer who has not previously been selected by ABC under the project. Eligible writers must either have been employed as professional writers or sold or optioned a script or treatment to a television production company or entity.

But the program does not go far enough, according to the National Hispanic Media Coalition, which in April 1997 called for a nationwide boycott of the Walt Disney Co. because of the studio’s purportedly poor record of hiring Latinos.

“We don’t need programs — I’m sick and tired of programs,” said NHMC chairman Alex Nogales. “What we need is jobs. We’re not lacking in training, and we’re not lacking in creativity; what we lack are opportunities.”

Disney also came under attack last year from Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who rallied 30 Latino organizations to protest Disney’s exclusion of Latinos from its executive ranks.

Claudia Peters, a spokeswoman for Disney, said Tuesday the company could not release information about its staff, but she provided details of two Latino writers brought in under the Walt Disney Studios Fellowship Program, one in 1994 and the other in ’96. In addition, a chart published in January in Hispanic Business magazine showed eight Latino executives at Disney.

Applications for the WGAW/ Disney program may be obtained from the guild at (323) 782-4648.

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