In a sometimes moving and deeply personal ceremony, the 2019 Sentinel Awards honored 13 TV shows for outstanding storylines dealing with critical topics such as addiction, criminal justice, mental health, nuclear risk and sexual assault.
Writer/producer Sarah Watson (“The Bold Type,” “Parenthood”) opened the Atomic Storytelling workshop with a quote from the film “Dead Poets Society," meant to inspire students at an elite boarding school to look at writing with an authentic and emotional perspective: “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
At one point during the discussion on how Hollywood can help change the narrative about drug addiction and mental health, screenwriter John August ("Aladdin"), the panel moderator, asked the speakers on stage to recount something they had seen in a film or on TV that they didn’t want to see anymore.
In a scene at the end of a wrenching episode of the FOX medical show "The Resident," whose storyline focuses on the death of a Black woman after she gives birth, the chief of surgery of the fictional Chastain Park Memorial Hospital tells the grief-stricken husband: “Your wife suffered what we refer to as a ‘never’ event—something that should never have happened.”
Ploughshares Fund and Hollywood, Health & Society co-sponsored a discussion on building a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons that brought together activists, experts, policy-makers and top names in entertainment, including actor/producer Michael Douglas.
Hollywood, Health & Society and the TV Academy Foundation co-sponsored a special panel discussion, “The Power of TV: Reproductive Health and Access in Storytelling,” focusing on how entertainment has influenced attitudes and access to safe reproductive choice and women’s healthcare.
What other Hollywood awards night can boast that a president of the United States was a guest? But there he was, taking center stage at the 2018 Sentinel Awards, and living up to the qualities he displays before millions every week—intelligence, compassion, poise, courage, truthfulness.
Hollywood, Health & Society and Ploughshares Fund held a special screening of the season finale for the hit CBS series Madam Secretary, followed by a discussion on real-life nuclear threats and the role that entertainment can play in helping to engage and educate the public.
With more than 400 TV shows currently streaming or airing, the entertainment industry has plenty of opportunities to show abortion realistically—yet Hollywood still manages to come up short when talking about a procedure that nearly one in four women in the United States has before the age of 45.