Producers at ABC’s “Home Improvement” have committed to having the program’s characters wear seatbelts, a victory for the Entertainment Industries Council, which is trying to persuade all actors to set a good example by strapping themselves in.
The EIC is pushing a “Buckle Up Hollywood” campaign in the wake of a study released last month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the American Coalition for Traffic Safety and Michigan State U illustrating only occasional seat-belt usage by onscreen drivers and passengers in primetime television.
The nonprofit organization was formed in 1983 to help the entertainment community bring its influence to bear on health and social issues, and has long advocated seatbelt usage by actors and an end to onscreen smoking.
At “Home Improvement,” producer Gayle Maffeo, who heads TV output for Wind Dancer Production Group, confirmed the move.
Actors on Wind Dancer’s new series for Fox, “Costello,” will also be asked to strap in.
Researchers analyzed the four major broadcast networks and the four highest-rated basic cable networks; they concluded that only 24% of drivers and 17% of passengers were buckled up, figures similar to those in feature films, where 23% of drivers and 14% of passengers were shown strapped in. In the 1980s, onscreen belt use was considerably higher; in fact, it was higher on television than in real life, studies showed. “It’s a whole new generation of actors and creators out there,” Deutchman said.