A World of Stories

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is in touch with heroes on the front lines of health and medical crises worldwide, and our keynote speaker Tachi Yamada oversees the largest health portfolio in the world. This special event featured compelling global health stories from experts in the heart of the action overseas, and TV writers who have turned stories on global health topics into top-rated television shows.

Beyond Broadcast 2009

Sandra de Castro Buffington, director of the Norman Lear Center's Hollywood, Health & Society program, served on the "That's Entertainment! Or Is It?" panel with Neal Baer, executive producer, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Zoanne Clack, executive producer and writer, Grey's Anatomy. Since 2006, the annual Beyond Broadcast conference has explored the evolution of participatory digital public media. This year's conference, titled "Public Service Media from Local to Global," brings this ongoing conversation to the world stage, examining these issues from a global perspective. BB09 was structured around three themes: local, global and connecting the two. This panel examined the role of TV shows in spreading helpful information and the ways network television serves the public in areas of critical importance, such as safety and health.

Global Health Council: Educating Hollywood’s Writers

Sandra de Castro Buffington, the director of the Hollywood, Health & Society project at the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, gave a presentation titled "Global Health in Entertainment: Educating Hollywood's Writers" at the Global Health Council Media Awards luncheon in Washington, D.C. on May 28. The event was an opportunity to learn more about the changing media landscape and honor the best of health reporting. The Global Health Council is the world's largest membership alliance dedicated to saving lives by improving health, and works to ensure that the necessary information and resources are available.

Entertainment Education: Women’s Health & Social Issues

Sandra de Castro Buffington, the director of the Hollywood, Health & Society project at the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, gave a presentation titled "Working With Hollywood's Creative Community to Increase Accuracy of Health Content in TV Storylines" on March 26 at Hofstra University in New York. Her address was part of a symposium on Media and Social Change that explored the unique role entertainment can play in dealing with social and health issues that affect women in this country and around the world. The keynote speaker was Dr. Neal Baer, executive producer of Law & Order: SVU.

Addressing Health in Entertainment TV

"Addressing Health in Entertainment Television: An Innovative Model to Reach Millions Through TV Storylines" was presented by Sandra de Castro Buffington, the director of the Hollywood, Health & Society project, at the Social Justice Dialogue and Publication Series at the University of Texas at El Paso on March 24. The university's Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies, which hosted the event, was established in 2002 and named after the ABC-TV news veteran and alumnus. The Donaldson Center provides academic enrichment for communication majors, and fosters research collaboration with other universities across the world.

Ninth Annual Sentinel for Health Awards (2008)

The AMC drama Breaking Bad received first place in the primetime drama category of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center’s Sentinel for Health Awards for a storyline about the emotional and financial hardships a man endures while battling terminal lung cancer. The ABC drama Private Practice took first place for a primetime minor storyline on teen sex and sexually transmitted diseases, and ABC’s Desperate Housewives took first place in primetime comedy for a storyline about cancer. Telemundo took home its third Sentinel Award, in the Spanish-language telenovela category, for a construction safety storyline in Pecados Ajenos.

How Healthy Is Primetime?

At a September 16 briefing in Washington, D.C., the Kaiser Family Foundation released a study, "How Healthy Is Prime Time?: An Analysis of Health Content in Popular Prime Time Television Programs," co-sponsored by the Norman Lear Center's Hollywood, Health & Society program. The report, available for download here, was written by USC Annenberg Associate Professor Sheila T. Murphy, PhD; Heather J. Hether, MA (ASC); and the Kaiser Family Foundations's Victoria Rideout, MA. It examines three seasons (2004-2006) of top 10-rated primetime scripted shows to measure the prevalence and type of health content on entertainment shows. The analysis reveals that an average of six out of ten episodes (59%) had at least one health storyline.

HH&S Holds Pioneering “Narratives Workshop” at CDC

Hollywood, Health & Society conducted the "Impacting the Health of Millions Through Social Marketing and Entertainment Education: The Power of Narratives" workshop at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta for 30 scientists and senior health marketing specialists on July 28-29, 2008.

Behavior Change: Youth Pop Culture, Media and HIV/AIDS

Hollywood, Health & Society Director Sandra de Castro Buffington traveled to the Middle East to present three papers at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Strategic Communication for Behavior Change: Youth Pop Culture, Media and HIV/AIDS conference in Muscat, Oman on July 1-4. Conference participants included four-person national teams made up of a celebrity, a journalist, a young adult "Y-PEER" educator, and a UNFPA staff member from nine Arab countries and key Balkan States.

Science Goes Hollywood

Despite our prejudices to the contrary, Hollywood and Science have a lot to say to each other. Take special effects: Nothing Disney dreams up can even come close to the fireworks created by exploding stars every day. And what about flesh-eating bacteria? Or clones? Or Schrödinger’s Cat? No wonder authors, filmmakers and even sitcom writers look to science for inspiration. But science also looks to Hollywood for help in getting its magic out. It’s not all that easy to bring the excitement (and most important, the process) of science into our lives through books, TV and film.