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NBC Launches Director Training Initiative for Unscripted Programming

NBC has created a director training program for helmers looking to work on unscripted programs. The new Alternative Directors Program is designed to address the need for more representation behind the camera in unscripted programming and is intended for female and ethnically diverse talent with at least one directing credit to their name.

The program will give five directors the opportunity to shadow over several weeks on NBC and Universal Television Alternative Studios unscripted series including prep, production, and post. Participating shows for the program’s inaugural year include “America’s Got Talent,” “Hollywood Game Night,” “The Voice,” “The Wall, and “World of Dance.”

Directors Alan Carter (“The Voice”), Ivan Dudynsky ( “Hollywood Game Night”), Russell Norman (“America’s Got Talent”), and Alex Rudzinksi (“Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” “World of Dance”) are slated to serve as mentors to the program finalists.

Spearheading the initiative are Meredith Ahr, president of Universal Television Alternative Studio, and Karen Horne, NBC’s senior VP of programming talent development and inclusion, who oversees the company’s onscreen and behind-the-camera diversity efforts.

“While much of the conversation around inclusion has been focused on scripted programming, we believe that a big piece of the puzzle is missing without equal concentration on the unscripted space, which makes up a big percentage of what audiences are watching every week,” Ahr said. “With this program, the goal is to not only give emerging directors the extraordinary opportunity to learn from the best in the business, but also to galvanize the industry as a whole to make strides towards increasing representation behind the camera on alternative series.”

With the new initiative, NBC rounds out its directing programs that set out to increase the pool of diverse talent. Existing programs such as Female Forward and the Emerging Director Program are intended for directors eyeing scripted shows.

“NBC has always led the way in broadcasting an inclusive view of our world from airing the first African-American woman on television in 1939 to the first interracial kiss on ‘Star Trek,’ ” said Horne. She added: “So it should be of no surprise that our legacy of groundbreaking ‘firsts’ also extends to our talent pipeline programs, where over the past almost two decades, we have created many of the industry’s first initiatives aimed at developing diverse talent in front and behind the camera.”

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