Hollywood, Health & Society brought together top entertainment experts at Writers Guild of America, West to share their inspiring stories from a research trip to India and South Africa. Saying that there was nothing more powerful than "direct experience," Buffington shepherded a group of directors, producers and studio executives on an inaugural "Tales from the Field" visit to Mumbai and Johannesburg, staying one week in each location. The panel included Karen Tenkhoff, development partner at Walt Disney Feature Animation; Jennifer Cecil, co-executive producer, Private Practice; and Michael Nash, director of Climate Refugees.
During their trip to India, members of the entertainment community participated in an inspiring panel discussion in Mumbai titled From Hollywood to Bollywood: How Film & TV Reach Global Audiences on Key Health Topics. American writers and producers were joined by representatives from the local entertainment community to share their thoughts on writing about health topics, their approaches to writing dramas with impact; and TV as a vehicle for education and social change. Panelists included director and producer Ramesh Sippy; Jennifer Cecil, co-executive producer, "Private Practice"; and Amole Gupte, writer, director and producer, "Stanley Ka Dabba."
During their immersion in South Africa and India, members of the entertainment community participated in two successful, inspiring panel discussions with local TV and film writers, and others involved in entertainment education in-country. The South Africa panel was titled From California to Cape Town: How TV Reaches Global Audiences on Key Health Topics. The panel members for the Cape Town discussion included producer and writer Carol Barbee; Harriet Perlman, senior executive, Soul City Institute for Health and Development Regional Programme; and Makgano Mamabolo, co-executive producer, Puo Pha Productions. The two meetings have forged lasting relationships among the participants, which allow American TV writers to feel more connected globally, and more sympathetic to the pressing health issues of the developing world.
For two weeks in May 2011, Hollywood, Health & Society Director Sandra de Castro Buffington took six TV and film writers on research trips to Johannesburg, South Africa and Mumbai, India, to learn about global health challenges and low cost, effective solutions. The groups explored each city, learning about health problems and social issues and meeting with individuals and organizations working for positive change. The writers also participated in panel discussions in both Johannesburg and Mumbai with local TV and film writers and others involved in entertainment education in each country. All panelists showcased their work and shared their thoughts on how television can educate viewers, and transform society for the good.
At this Hollywood, Health & Society panel discussion held at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, health and entertainment experts spoke about the science behind climate change and the way it affects health, emerging solutions and the entertainment media's portrayal of these issues. The keynote speaker, Dr. George Luber of the Centers for Disease Control, said the scientific findings about the planet's warming were "unequivocal" and a direct result of an increase in the emissions of greenhouse gases during the past 50 years.
On November 3, 2010, HH&S held the global health panel discussion: “5 Simple Ways to Save a Life,” featuring Dr. Rajeev Venkayya, director of Global Health Vaccine Delivery for The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Larry Kaplow, consulting producer for the hit FOX-TV series House, MD, and many others at Writers Guild of America, West. Dr. Venkayya oversees late-stage development of health technologies and interventions.
In 1974, Annenberg Journalism Professor Joe Saltzman produced what has been acknowledged to be the first TV documentary on breast cancer, an hour-long program called Why Me? This groundbreaking documentary addressed a subject not seen before on television. The award-winning program was viewed by one out of every three women in the Western world, and it has been credited with saving thousands of lives.