The program is the industry’s first directing pipeline program for unscripted shows. The new initiative takes a step toward equal representation behind the scenes on alternative series — a part of the industry that falls short on inclusion despite the numerous unscripted shows on TV. The program gives experienced female and ethnically diverse directors access to expand their repertoire of alternative formats and complex directing styles with the ultimate goal of opening the door to future projects.
The seven program finalists and the celebrated directors who will serve as their mentors are: Madeline Fuste (Hollywood Game Night, Ivan Dudynsky), Sarah De La O (The Voice, Alan Carter), Sharon Everitt (The Wall, Alan Carter and World of Dance, Alex Rudzinski), Carrie Havel (The Voice, Alan Carter), Annetta Marion (Making It), Cari Townsend (American Ninja Warrior, Patrick McManus) and Lizz Zanin (America’s Got Talent, Russell Norman).
The inaugural class are experienced directors who have previously worked on acclaimed unscripted content including Oprah’s Master Class, Dancing with the Stars, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, and The View as well as sports events such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games, and concert films for platinum-selling recording artists.
The Alternative Directors Program was launched in May 2018 as part of NBC’s talent infusion programs (NBC TIPS). The program gives female and ethnically diverse directors with at least one directing credit the opportunity to shadow a seasoned director on an NBC show over several weeks including prep, production, and post. The initiative will feed the pipeline for unscripted directors on NBC as well as shows produced by Universal Television Alternative Studio. The network’s ultimate goal is to extend the industry’s pool of experienced diverse directors who can work in various alternative formats.
The initiative is spearheaded by Meredith Ahr who was recently announced as NBC’s new President, Alternative and Reality Group, and Karen Horne, NBC’s Senior Vice President, Programming Talent Development & Inclusion, who oversees the company’s robust onscreen and behind-the-camera diversity efforts.