POSTED May 12 2015

ACLU to investigate Hollywood hiring practices

Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the most commercially successful female filmmaker of all time.

Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the most commercially successful female filmmaker of all time.

Cara Buckley’s report in The New York Times about the ACLU decision to look into the

studios’ employment of women has won cheers from those of us who have perceived gender bias against female producers, directors and screenwriters.

It also has been greeted with jeers from those who believe that directing a movie is not a civil right.

In the thirty years I’ve covered this beat,  male studio executives have told me, on the record, “Women on the screen mean no men in the audience.”

Huh? Consider that the two top box-office films of all time (adjusted for inflation) are Gone With the Wind and The Sound of Music.

They have told me, on the record, that the movies women want to make “don’t play well in foreign markets.”

What?  Consider that the top two box-office films written and directed by women made moremoney overseas than domestically. The movies are Kung Fu Panda 2, by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, which made $665,692,281 worldwide and Mamma Mia! by Phyllida Lloyd, which made $609,841,637 globally.

They have told me that “Women filmmakers can’t direct action.”

WTF? I had to remind the guy that said that about Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, which won an Academy Award for Best Picture.

They have told me that male moviegoers find it hard to relate to movies written and directed by women.

C’mon, guys. Movies like Big, directed by Penny Marshall and written by Anne Spielberg? Movies like Sleepless in Seattle, written and directed by Nora Ephron? Movies like Something’s Gotta Give, written and directed by Nancy Meyers. Movies like best-picture nominee Selma, written and directed by Ava DuVernay?

The best response today came from Mark Harris, the great reporter for Grantland, who tweeted, ‘The ‘women can make movies once they prove they can,’ is how power maintains itself. ”

Hear hear.



  1. Ale Bara says:

    It’s a shame that we still have to prove ourselves and it sadly, until there are more women than men suceeding in all fields these biases might be forgotten but in the meanwhile we still have to step it up and remind everybody that we can.

  2. Debbie says:

    Thanks for speaking truth to power.

  3. Quora says:

    Should Hollywood be investigated for failing to hire women as film directors?

    Short answer: Yes. Longer answer: I believe it is a job for the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, which is federal, than the ACLU. As one who has been reporting on this situation for 30 years, these are the kinds of rationalizations one hears fr…

  4. Marilyn says:

    Quora – Yes the EEOC should be doing this, but it hasn’t and seems to need to be reminded of what it does. I applaud the ACLU for saying they’re not going to wait for a reluctant government and bigoted studio elite to get the ball rolling.

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