June 25, 2022

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Helping Hollywood Avoid Claims of Bias Is Now a Growing Business

2 min read

In the summer of 2020, not long after the murder of George Floyd spurred a racial reckoning in America, Carri Twigg’s phone kept ringing.

Ms. Twigg, a founding partner of a production company named Culture House, was asked over and over again if she could take a look at a television or movie script and raise any red flags, particularly on race.

Culture House, which employs mostly women of color, had traditionally specialized in documentaries. But after a few months of fielding the requests about scripts, they decided to make a business of it: They opened a new division dedicated solely to consulting work.

“The frequency of the check-ins was not slowing down,” Ms. Twigg said. “It was like, oh, we need to make this a real thing that we offer consistently — and get paid for.”

Though the company has been consulting for a little more than a year — for clients like Paramount Pictures, MTV and Disney — that work now accounts for 30 percent of Culture House’s revenue.

Culture House is hardly alone. In recent years, entertainment executives have vowed to make a genuine commitment to diversity, but are still routinely criticized for falling short. To signal that they are taking steps to address the issue, Hollywood studios have signed contracts with numerous companies and nonprofits to help them avoid the reputational damage that comes with having a movie or an episode of a TV show face accusations of bias.

“When a great idea is there and then it’s only talked about because of the social implications, that must be heartbreaking for creators who spend years on something,” Ms. Twigg said. “To get it into the world and the only thing anyone wants to talk about are the ways it came up short. So we’re trying to help make that not happen.”

The consulting work runs the gamut of a production. The consulting companies sometimes are asked about casting decisions as well as marketing plans. And they may also read scripts to…

John Koblin

2022-04-02 16:13:36

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