ITV wakes up to diversity?

Peter Fincham - questionable commitment to diversity?

Peter Fincham – questionable commitment to diversity?

Our demands for increased diversity usually focus on the BBC (mainly because they take our license fee every year), and our complaints about programmes often feature Channel 4, but let’s not forget ITV. Director of television Peter Fincham told a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch last week that diversity was a “very big, broad subject” that ITV wanted to emphasise through its output. But Fincham then went on to say that he was “slightly distrusting” of eye-catching initiatives, but that commissioners had been handed “annual objectives”.  “I have introduced to my commissioners annual objectives and objectives to promote diversity and reflect diversity, which I don’t think were there before. It’s a subject much discussed within ITV,” he said.The director of television added that conversations would take place with producers about casting for game-shows, while other genres might also come under the spotlight. Fincham emphasised the work ITV is already doing, pointing to the breadth of contestants on The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, and the casting of Ben Bailey Smith and Paterson Joseph in Law & Order: UK. ApparentlyFincham has already met with friends of the TVC Lenny Henry, and Baroness Oona King to discuss diversity issues.But if Mr Fincham has already sat down with Lenny and Oona then surely he doesn’t need us to tell him that increasing diversity is about much more than a few Black contestants on the X-factor or token Black characters in cop shows.  How about changing the make-up of the staff behind the camera?  And we don’t mean in the canteen or on reception!!   Channel 4 refutes claim of sexism Two weeks ago we reported complaints that Channel 4’s new male-only survival show The Island with Bear Grylls was “inherently sexist”.  Now Channel 4’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt has hit back. In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Hunt said the Shine TV show was “designed to be a test of modern masculinity” and that women were excluded because they are “so capable”. Hunt argued that The Island was devised to explore the skills of the “traditional man” as girls are “outperforming” boys in the classroom, while women are catching up to their male counterparts in the workplace. “In a world where hunting and gathering can be done in Sainsbury’s, where does that leave the traditional man? Some of my commissioners owned up to feeling guilty about their lack of practical skills, slightly reduced by knowing they couldn’t quite hack it when it came to manual work. That insight helped shaped the show that became The Island,” she said. Though she might be right about girls outperforming boys in the classroom, its interesting that she should think that women are doing so well in the workplace, when we know that women are so under-represented in executive positions in the media.   Idris Elba makes moves behind the camera

Idris Elba: King of Speed

Elba behind the wheel in one of his company’s own productions, King Of Speed.

After lighting up the screen with the BBC cop drama Luther and big screen blockbuster Mandela, Idris Elba is also making moves off screen.  His production company Green Door has struck a development deal with Shine North as it prepares a move into factual programming. The Luther star launched Green Door last year, with an initial focus on film before partnering with Shine to produce BBC2 underground motorsport film Idris Elba: King of Speed in December. Elba now plans to work closely with Green Door execs Nicholas Yearwood and Ben Schneider to develop more factual ideas. Green Door will co-produce projects with Alex Connock’s Shine North, with Elba, who has previously fronted C4 documentaries How Hip Hop Changed The World and How Clubbing Changed The World, in a producer and presenter capacity. Elba said: “Working with the guys on King of Speed was a great experience and one I wanted to repeat. This allows us to act on some of the ideas we bounced around during that show and is a great and early step up for Green Door.” Connock said : “Idris is passionate about making quality factual TV as the success of his documentaries to date bear out.  We are delighted to have Green Door as collaborators and we’re already underway on a number of exciting concepts.” We applaud Elba, not only for his considerable acting talents, but for thinking entrepreneurially and parlaying his fame into business opportunities.   Shonda Rhimes cashes mad cheques!

shonda rhimes & kerry washington - laughing all the way to the bank!

shonda rhimes & kerry washington – laughing all the way to the bank!

A couple of weeks ago we brought you the sad news that Channel 4 would not be re-renewing their rights to hit US drama Scandal.  But the show’s creator Shonda Rhimes is not shedding any tears – she’s too busy celebrating.  Rhimes has signed a new 4-year deal extension with the US network ABC – which is said to be valued in the 8-figures! With two  hit shows already on the channel’s primetime line-up (Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal), and at least one more ordered for next season (How To Get Away With Murder), she’ll certainly have enough to keep her busy until 2018.   And finally for The Funniest Thing I’ve Seen On-Line This Week. No not that CCTV footage of the Carter/Knowles family feud in a hotel lift, as if you have access to Facebook you’ve undoubtedly already seen that.  No, for this week we return to  Arsenio Hall’s  US chat show as he speaks to actor Don Cheadle about his role in the next Avengers movie.   That’s all for this week, but if you just can’t hang on for another seven days to get your next fix of TV industry news, check our facebook page for daily updates. Lee Pinkerton