Above: Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind, is interviewed during the organization’s protest on April 2nd in midtown Manhattan. (Video: SCOOTERCASTER / YouTube)
Members of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) gathered in midtown Manhattan on April 2nd to protest “In The Dark,” a new television series on the CW network. The purpose of the protest #LetUsPlayUs was to highlight the lack of authentic representation of blind people in the entertainment industry; “In the Dark” features a lead actor who isn’t blind in real life, but who plays the role of a blind person on the show.
In the weeks leading up to the protest, the National Federation of the Blind issued a statement condemning the show and calling for its cancellation. The organization also wrote to the show’s producers and to CW/CBS executives requesting an urgent meeting. The NFB received a response from the show’s executives stating that they are interested in meeting with the NFB after the first season has aired.
The competition in PyeongChang isn’t over! NBC will air the Winter Paralympic Games on NBCSN, Olympic Channel, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app from March 9-18. Coverage begins with the opening ceremony tonight at 6 a.m. ET on NBCSN. If you’d like an early preview check out Ben Shpigel’s report and Chang W. Lee’s glossy photos for the New York Times.
Click hereto see the schedule of events and broadcast times on NBCSN.
SundanceNow is streaming a new show by and about deaf people called “This Close.” The New York Times interviewed the show’s creators, Shoshannah Stern and Josh Feldman. The article gives a behind-the-scenes description of developing and producing the show.
The primetime ABC drama “The Good Doctor” follows the career and personal life of a young surgeon with autism. The title character, Dr. Shaun Murphy, is played by Freddie Highmore who does not have autism. However, Monday night’s episode (Nov 13th) was unique in that a guest role featuring a character with autism was played by Coby Bird, an experienced actor with autism. This article on The Mighty by Elizabeth Cassidy describes Bird’s work and perspective on his character.
Several recent films produced by Hollywood studios and starring celebrity actors are frustrating disability advocates for their lack of diversity and authenticity. Examples include Todd Haynes’s film Wonderstruck starring Julianne Moore as a deaf woman, David Gordon Green’s Stronger starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a double-amputee, and Andy Serkis’s Breathe starring Andrew Garfield as a polio patient who becomes a quadriplegic. A recent article in USA Today explains why disability advocates are raising awareness about the lack of casting diversity and how filmmakers are responding.
Article excerpt: So what can Hollywood do to give more visibility? Lauren Appelbaum, communications director for RespectAbility, a non-profit organization working to fight stigmas and create opportunities for people with disabilities, urges studios to look to TV, where actors such as Stranger Things‘ Gaten Matarazzo (who has cleidocranial dysplasia, a rare growth disorder) and NCIS: New Orleans‘ Daryl Mitchell (who is paralyzed from the chest down) play roles that don’t hinge on them being disabled.
“Actors with disabilities could easily play roles that neither hide nor emphasize their disability,” Appelbaum says. “For example: a doctor who uses a wheelchair or a scientist with cerebral palsy. By including characters with obvious and hidden disabilities in scripts and story lines, films can create more authenticity within entertainment.”
The reality TV show ‘Born This Way’ won two Emmys for outstanding casting and cinematography. The show was also recently renewed for a fourth season by cable network A&E. Click here to read the full article by Shaun Heasley on Disability Scoop.
NCDJ advisory board member Beth Haller will host a webinar on the TV representation of people with disabilities on April 5. A disability and media scholar, Haller will talk about the rise of TV shows including ABC’s “Speechless.” Read more
Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin told reporters, “There have been only a handful of people talking about the lack of inclusion of people with disabilities” in the film industry and Hollywood. Read more