USA Network Launches Characters Unite Month to Promote Tolerance, Respect and Unity
Month of Special Events and New Campaign Elements Include Tom Brokaw Documentary, Celebrity PSAs, Student Outreach and Enhanced Digital Hub
National Storytelling Tour with The Moth Continues in New York City with Mainstage Event Hosted by Kristin Chenoweth and Companion School Program, Both in Partnership with Time Warner Cable's East Region/NYC
NEW YORK, Nov. 22, 2010 -- USA Network today announced the launch of "Characters Unite Month," shining a special spotlight on efforts to promote tolerance and respect as we look forward to a new year. The initiative, part of the network's ongoing Characters Unite public service campaign to combat prejudice and discrimination in partnership with leading nonprofit organizations, kicks off Thanksgiving week with multiplatform elements and special events. The project includes an original Characters Unite-themed documentary; on-air promotion and Public Service Announcements (PSAs); extensive digital content, such as a new Facebook game application; star-studded community storytelling events and education workshops in partnership with The Moth; the Characters Unite Awards; and a new national poll.
In making the announcement, Bonnie Hammer, president, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios, said, "Over the past year, an 'us vs. them' attitude has prevailed everywhere from school corridors to town halls to Capitol Hill. It's time to set the stage for a more productive year ahead - to focus on what can bring us together rather than what drives us apart."
The programming centerpiece of Characters Unite Month is a new, one-hour special, TOM BROKAW PRESENTS BRIDGING THE DIVIDE, which premieres Friday, December 10 at 7/6c. Produced by Peacock Productions and hosted by Brokaw, the documentary will showcase America's progress in the approximately 50 years since the launch of the civil rights movement and will look beyond the salacious headlines to provide a truer and more complete picture of where the country stands on a range of issues, from discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, disabilities and sexual orientation to bullying in schools. The film will also highlight people who are working tirelessly for progress and solutions to create a more tolerant United States. Coinciding with the documentary premiere, USA will release the results of its second annual "United or Divided" nationally representative opinion poll on Americans' views on a range of civil and human rights issues, conducted by Hart Research Associates (D) and Public Opinion Strategies (R).
USA will turn over its airwaves throughout the month to commemorate Characters Unite with a custom on-air bug, multiple snipes directing viewers to charactersunite.com and a series of original PSAs with the stars of USA's hit original series. Each PSA focuses on a relevant campaign issue, including COVERT AFFAIRS' Sendhil Ramamurthy speaking out against hate crimes, WHITE COLLAR's Tim DeKay urging community solutions to bullying, IN PLAIN SIGHT's Mary McCormack calling for a stop to gender violence, and several other cast members, such as WHITE COLLAR's Matt Bomer and Sharif Atkins, and COVERT AFFAIRS' Anne Dudek, promoting diversity and religious tolerance. A wide range of USA stars will also be featured in a vignette called "Labels," which calls on viewers to accept everyone's differences and push aside the stereotypes, prejudice and hatred that divide us.
In addition, USA and its participating Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPD) will salute the eight winners of the 2nd Annual Characters Unite Awards in an on-air spot with ROYAL PAINS' star Reshma Shetty. The awards recognize people who are making a difference to promote civil rights in their communities. The winners, who will each receive a $5,000 grant, were selected from hundreds of applicants.
Off-air, USA continues its powerful partnership with renowned storytelling organization The Moth, hosting the second in a national series of five Characters Unite Mainstage showcases entitled "A More Perfect Union: Stories of Prejudice and Power." Following its debut in New Orleans, the tour stops in New York City on Monday, December 6, at the historic New York Public Library, with a star-studded event presented by Time Warner Cable's East Region/NYC. Stage and screen star Kristin Chenoweth (star of Broadway's hit musical "Promises, Promises") will serve as the night's host. Participating storytellers, who will each share a true, ten-minute story of his or her experience with bigotry or discrimination, include Mos Def (acclaimed actor and hip-hop artist), Simon Doonan (creative director of Barney's New York), Wes Moore (youth advocate, army combat veteran and author), Aimee Mullins (Paralympic athlete, actress/model and motivational speaker), and Sirdeaner Walker (anti-bullying advocate whose son committed suicide after facing relentless taunting in school). USA, its MVPD partners, and The Moth and its creative team will continue the tour in 2011 with stops in Chicago, Denver and Seattle.
The Characters Unite high school storytelling program also continues at Humanities Preparatory Academy in New York City. Beginning on December 13, USA, in partnership with The Moth's ongoing workshops and Time Warner Cable's East Region/NYC, will conduct an after-school program in which ten students will receive in-depth training on the art of storytelling and will develop their own five-minute story about prejudice and power. At the culmination of the workshops, the students will share their stories at an in-school assembly on December 17, giving the entire student body the opportunity to start a larger dialogue about respect and understanding. A Characters Unite school study guide, meeting national education standards, will also be available to teachers in high schools across the country. The curriculum, designed in partnership with The Moth, will include information about Characters Unite issues as well as thought-provoking and fun activities to help shed stereotypes and increase respect.
The newly re-designed and video enhanced website, charactersunite.com, will be greatly expanded to include several new interactive features to further engage viewers in the campaign and enable them to share, comment and add their own personal stories. Highlights include:
Characters Unite Pledge - Visitors online can register and take the pledge for unity and understanding. They will be encouraged to share their commitment through Facebook Connect and other social media. USA will donate $1 per pledge to its nonprofit partners during Characters Unite Month (November 22 - December 24)*.
Facebook Game Application "Social Circle" - Allows players to engage and examine how diverse their circle of friends is as a means of assessing their own diversity quotient.
Characters Unite Facebook Page - A dedicated page (facebook.com/charactersunite) provides a way for people to interact with the campaign and connect with others who support the initiative.
Characters Unite Twitter Feed - USA will provide the latest news on relevant campaign issues with its Twitter feed (twitter.com/charactersunite).
Video Hub - Houses all the PSAs, vignettes, the documentary and stories from The Moth tour.
Education Kit - Includes downloadable activity cards and a curriculum that addresses Characters Unite issues and provides the tools for high school students to craft and tell their own stories of prejudice and discrimination in their classrooms.
Characters Unite messaging will be syndicated through USA's social media outlets including its Facebook page (facebook.com/usanetwork) and Twitter Feed (twitter.com/usa_network).
The Characters Unite non-governmental partners include the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Association of People with Disabilities, American Federation of Teachers, Anti-Defamation League, Asian American Justice Center, Children's Defense Fund, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church, GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights First, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Association of Counties, National Council of La Raza, National Education Association, National Council of Women's Organizations, National Congress of American Indians, National Parent Teacher Association and Southern Poverty Law Center.
(* Up to a maximum of $20,000)
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