Hollywood, Health & Society launched its Storybus Tours, a signature series of research trips for TV writers to various locations—this time to gather first-hand reports from those working to ease gang violence in the schools and on the streets of Los Angeles. Created in partnership between HH&S and Neal Baer—director of the USC Institute for Global Health's Center for Storytelling, Activism & Health—the tours provide writers on-the-ground experience in examining health issues. It also gives them the chance to meet and be inspired by stories from local community members and activists who are working for change. The inaugural Storybus trip on Jan. 18, which started in the morning at the Writers Guild of America, West, featured three stops, 15 or so excited participants, a lunchtime full of conversation and—in the end—an education.
The Norman Lear Center's Hollywood, Health & Society program was among the co-sponsors of the 5th International Entertainment Education Conference, which was held at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi in November. The event sought to inspire the entertainment industry, public health programmers, academics, donors and government officials to improve health and well-being around the world. A panel discussion titled "Insiders for a Day" featured Christopher Keyser, president of the Writers Guild of America, West; Zoanne Clack (Grey's Anatomy); Vinta Nanda (Tara); filmmaker Michael Nash; Walt Disney Feature Animation executive Karen Tenkhoff; and Sandra de Castro Buffington, director of Hollywood, Health & Society. Nash also screened his documentary Climate Refugees.
Medical leaders, global health workers and researchers convened in Seattle on Nov. 1-2 for a conference sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, titled “Achieving Lasting Impact at Scale: Social and Behavioral Change and the Spread of Family Health Innovations in Low-Income Countries.” Among those participating were Sandra de Castro Buffington, director of the Hollywood, Health & Society program; Neal Baer, executive producer of A Gifted Man (CBS); Dr. Gary Darmstadt, director of family health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Melinda French Gates, co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Dr. Nana Twum-Danso of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement; and Dr. Nicholas Christakis.
Following the presentations for the 2011 Sentinel for Health Awards, the winning writers participated in a panel discussion that offered behind-the-scenes looks about their respective shows and the genesis of some of their TV stories. Taking part in the conversation were Bridget Carpenter, co-executive producer of Parenthood (NBC); Zoanne Clack, co-executive producer of Grey's Anatomy (ABC); Jennifer Cecil, co-executive producer of Private Practice (ABC); and Gabriel Llanas, a writer for Off the Map (ABC). Joining them were Martin Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center, and Sandra de Castro Buffington, director of the Lear Center's Hollywood, Health & Society program.
Winning the first-place award in the category of Primetime Drama (Major Storyline) at the 12th annual Sentinel for Health Awards was the NBC series Parenthood, for an episode in which a couple struggle with how to tell their son that he has Asperger’s, a form of autism. The judges called the episode, titled “Qualities and Difficulties,” an “excellent depiction” and a “great example of a family working together to deal with a very tough issue. [The episode] showed realistic struggles and coping strategies.” Shows from five categories were recognized: primetime major storyline, primetime minor storyline, global health, telenovela and children's programming. Parenthood co-stars include Peter Krause, Monica Potter, Lauren Graham, Craig T. Nelson and Dax Shepard.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama topped the guest list at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 34th Annual Awards Gala, which drew an array of the Washington elite, including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, White House officials and members of Congress. Also among those in attendance was Hollywood, Health & Society Director Sandra de Castro Buffington, who shook the president's hand. The event raises critical funds for the organization's award-winning programs, and highlights the many contributions that Latinos make to the country.
Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discussed the science behind the movie "Contagion" and the CDC's round-the-clock efforts to protect Americans from deadly outbreaks of disease. The event was hosted by the CDC Foundation, whose mission is to help the CDC "do more ... faster," and was held at Union Station in Washington, D.C. The panelists were CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden; Dr. Ali Khan, director of CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response; and Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Sandra de Castro Buffington, director of the Hollywood, Health & Society program, participated in a Q&A session following the panel talk. Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson served as honorary host.