ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Warner Bros. has become the first major Hollywood studio to adopt the inclusion rider. Parent company WarnerMedia announced the policy yesterday. Its goal, as NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports, is to increase diversity behind and in front of the camera.
MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: It was Frances McDormand who introduced the idea publicly when she accepted her best actress Oscar last year.
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FRANCES MCDORMAND: I have two words to leave with you tonight. Ladies and gentlemen, inclusion rider.
DEL BARCO: The concept may have been met with bewilderment at that moment, but it had been in the works for years by scholars and others who saw how little progress has been made in Hollywood in terms of diversity. Attorney Kalpana Kotagal co-authored the original idea. She says an inclusion rider is an addendum that can be put in an A-lister's contract. It stipulates that the cast and crew of a production include women and underrepresented groups - people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities.
KALPANA KOTAGAL: This is not a series of quotas. It's a decision that's made for every single member of the cast or every single member of the crew on an individual-by-individual basis. As an overarching objective, you know, we would like to see the communities that take shape on screen more closely reflect the world in which we live.
DEL BARCO: Kotagal applauds Warner Bros. for being the first Hollywood studio to make this commitment.
KOTAGAL: I think it's fantastic news. This is the kind of broad, companywide change that we hoped the inclusion rider would galvanize.
DEL BARCO: Inspired by Frances McDormand's Oscar speech, some movie stars announced they'd be asking for inclusion riders - Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Brie Larson and Michael B. Jordan, who worked with WarnerMedia to create the new policy. Kevin Tsujihara, the chairman and CEO of Warner Bros., says Jordan began the conversation about an inclusion rider during preproduction of his upcoming film "Just Mercy."
KEVIN TSUJIHARA: Yeah. Every effort was made on this project to create as many diverse voices as possible.
DEL BARCO: A similar effort was made by director Ava DuVernay for her show "Queen Sugar," a series with Warner Bros. TV. She hired all-female directors. And in a speech at this year's Gloria Awards, she talked about the backlash.
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AVA DUVERNAY: I would invite you to tell whoever is feeling discriminated against to sue me.
DUVERNAY: So that I can inversely sue every studio that has left women out of a crew...
DUVERNAY: ...Since the beginning of the motion picture industry 100 years ago.
DEL BARCO: Kevin Tsujihara says at his studio, Warner Bros., along with HBO and Turner, all owned by WarnerMedia, the inclusion rider will be used for all of their productions.
TSUJIHARA: Which is going to cover all of our television, film, video game and digital productions. We believe that this is what audiences want. It's the right thing to do. And ultimately, it's just good business.
DEL BARCO: Tsujihara says that commitment includes training future filmmakers and actors in public schools in Los Angeles. He says from now on, all WarnerMedia productions will include data on diversity for its cast and crew, numbers that will be made public. Michael B. Jordan, who began production of "Just Mercy" this week in Atlanta, said in a statement that inclusivity was, quote, "a no-brainer for him as a black man in the business." His film will be the first production with this formal pledge to diversity. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.
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SHAPIRO: And also in Hollywood, we reported last month on a new Oscar category for the most popular film. Well, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has changed its mind. The Academy announced today that it won't add the new category after all after public backlash over what popular meant and how it might affect the awards. CEO Dawn Hudson said after a wide range of reactions, we recognize the need for further discussion.
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