Hollywood, Health & Society led a select group of writers on a “Jurassic Park”-style tour of remote Santa Cruz Island off the coast of Santa Barbara to learn about the effects of climate change, wildlife restoration efforts and how to live in a sustainable, off-the-grid environment. Accompanied by two experts from The Nature Conservancy—John Randall and Ric Wiles—the six writers and HH&S support staff departed early-morning, overcast Ventura Harbor for the hour-long crossing by ferry. A bumper sticker on the ship’s bridge read “I Brake for Whales”—a harbinger of things to come later in the day. On the way back, the group was spellbound by a rare treat—a mega-pod of thousands of dolphins swimming alongside the ship, with a handful of 50-foot humpback whales that repeatedly surfaced as they all feasted on great schools of anchovies.
An invitation-only audience was treated to a special screening of “Chasing Ice,” photographer James Balog’s hauntingly powerful 2012 documentary about Earth’s disappearing glaciers, on May 23 at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills. Co-sponsored by Hollywood, Health & Society, a program of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, and the Environmental Media Association, the event featured a panel conversation with Paula DuPre Pesmen, a producer for the documentary, and the film’s writer, Mark Monroe. They were joined by two climate scientists—Dr. Josh Willis of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Dr. Paul Bunje, senior director for prize development at the XPRIZE Foundation and a founding executive director of UCLA’s Center for Climate Change Solutions. HH&S Director Sandra de Castro Buffington and EMA President Debbie Levin served as the evening’s moderators.
Amid all the talk about DNA, double helixes and genetic variations at the Genomes Environments Traits Conference in Boston was a bit of entertainment industry sizzle, as Hollywood, Health & Society Director Sandra de Castro Buffington delivered a featured presentation on inspiring writers and producers to craft storylines that improve health worldwide. The event’s main topic was the frontiers of human biology, specifically personal genome sequencing—the mapping of an individual’s complete set of DNA—which is increasingly being seen as a promising new medical front in the treatment of disease, as well as for preventive health care.
Hollywood, Health & Society Director Sandra de Castro Buffington will talk about “Mainstreaming Socially Provocative Cinema and Television” at the FICCI Frames 2013 conference being held March 12-14 in Mumbai, India. The three-day global convention covers film, broadcast television and radio, digital entertainment, animation, gaming and visual effects. Nearly 2,000 Indian and 800 foreign delegates are expected to attend the event.
Hollywood, Health & Society Director Sandra de Castro Buffington will speak about the depiction of immigrants in the media at the Creative Change conference March 5 at Self Help Graphics & Art in East Los Angeles. Buffington's presentation, titled "Entertaining Health and Well Being: Inspiring Hollywood to Create Socially Relevant Stories," will include clips from TV shows whose storylines dealt with immigration. The Creative Change conference will include a strategy session to "identify key opportunities for alliances" centering on efforts to change immigration policy at federal and state levels. Self Help Graphics & Art is a non-profit visual arts center serving the predominantly Latino community of Los Angeles.
Hollywood, Health & Society held a panel discussion on the portrayals of people with disabilities in television and film on Feb. 11 at the Writers Guild of America, West. "People First: Real Disabilities, Reel Stories" featured guest speakers Ben Lewin, writer and director of The Sessions (pictured); Margaret Nagle, writer and producer of Warm Springs; Eric Guggenheim, writer and co-producer for Parenthood; David Radcliff, writer and producer; Auti Angel, actress in the docu-series Push Girls; and keynote presenter Ann Neville Jan, an associate professor of occupational science and therapy at USC. Hollywood, Health & Science Director Sandra de Castro Buffington was the moderator.
Residents in East and South Los Angeles are shaking up the food landscape in their neighborhoods, using innovative solutions to change their eating habits and tackle the challenge of getting more fresh, affordable and healthy food into communities. “Food swamps” are caused by an ever-increasing concentration of fast-food restaurants that overwhelm the more limited options for healthier alternatives, and the impact has been stark: an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and other related chronic illnesses. On a recent Storybus Tour organized by Hollywood, Health & Society called “Hunger Games,” writers and producers were given a first-hand look at the activists, community groups, public health professionals and students who are fighting back.