ABC'S STEPHEN MCPHERSON TO RECEIVE DGA DIVERSITY AWARD
Award Honors Mcpherson's Outstanding Commitment to and Leadership
In the Hiring of Women and Ethnic Minorities in DGA Categories
DGA President Michael Apted announced today that ABC Primetime Entertainment president Stephen McPherson will be the recipient of the Directors Guild of America's 2005 Diversity Award at the 57th Annual DGA Awards dinner on January 29. The Diversity Award honors McPherson's outstanding commitment to and leadership in the hiring of women and ethnic minorities in DGA categories. It has been bestowed only three times in DGA history: in 1997 to Bruce Paltrow, John Wells and Christopher Chulack; in 1999 to Steven Bochco; and in 2000 to HBO.
"In an industry where commitment to diversity often amounts to little more than lip service, Steve McPherson has taken action and produced substantive results," said Apted. "He is an exception to the rule, a true pioneer, and one whose successful efforts-we hope-will serve as a beacon for his colleagues to follow."
Last March, McPherson spearheaded the ground-breaking ABC/Touchstone Television Directing Assignment Initiative Program with the support and collaboration of the DGA. The purpose of the initiative is to provide women and minorities with specific and real directing opportunities on ABC-produced primetime episodics. McPherson personally oversaw the organization of the initiative, which engages at least 10 women and minority directors from the already existing ABC/Touchstone Seasoned Directors Program for one or more assignments on a drama or comedy airing on ABC. In its inaugural year, the unprecedented initiative included 20 episodes from first-year and returning ABC/Touchstone series. Designed to continue to encourage producing entities to increase diversity beyond their existing directors, the program has no cap on the financial commitment for directing assignments in the future.
McPherson also created the ABC/Touchstone DGA Partnership for Seasoned Directors in 2002, working closely with the DGA to create opportunities for experienced women and minority directors. Its three-phase plan includes interviews with ABC production executives, follow-up meetings with executive producers and directors, and shadow assignments on ABC series.
"While I'm truly honored by the DGA's acknowledgment," said McPherson, "I have to be honest. I believe this work is a responsibility for anyone in a position of authority in our business, especially when there is still so much left to be done. But I'm glad our efforts have brought some attention to this situation, and I have high hopes for our industry in the future."
McPherson was named president of ABC Primetime Entertainment in April 2004, with oversight of all development, current programming, marketing and scheduling for the Primetime division of the ABC Television Network. He is credited with developing the hit CBS drama franchise "CSI" and a number of critically-acclaimed series, including "Felicity," "Once and Again" and "Sports Night," and oversaw the development of the new shows like "Rodney," "Kevin Hill," "life as we know it" and the mega-hits "Lost "and "Desperate Housewives."
Prior to his appointment as president of ABC Primetime Entertainment, McPherson was president of Touchstone Television, where he was responsible for all day-to-day operations of the studio, including the development and production of the division's network primetime series, specials and films, a position he'd held since June 2001. He formerly was senior vice president, Creative Affairs of ABC Productions, where he supervised both comedy and drama series, including "My So Called Life," and "The Commish." In addition he served as director, Current Programming for FOX, where he helped launch "Martin" and "The Ben Stiller Show."
Prior to joining Touchstone Television, McPherson was vice president, Primetime Series at NBC, where he oversaw the development and production of such shows as "Just Shoot Me," "NewsRadio" and "The Pretender." He began his industry career as director of development for Witt-Tomas-Harris Productions and is a graduate of Cornell University (1986), where he received a BA in Political Science.
Candidates for the Diversity Award are selected by the DGA's Diversity Committees and Diversity Task Force, both comprised of women and minority DGA members, then approved by the DGA National Board of Directors; McPherson's candidacy was approved by acclamation.
The 57th Annual DGA Awards dinner and ceremony will be held on Saturday evening, January 29, 2005, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, California.