Cable Show 2010: USA Network Steps Up 'Characters Unite' Efforts

Los Angeles--USA Network will is dramatically expanding its Characters Unite community affairs campaign this year to include original themed programming, sponsorship opportunities, expanded digital content and more grassroots community events.

USA will culminate its efforts for Characters Unite - created last year to help fight social injustice and bridge cultural divides - with a major promotional celebration in November which will include long and short-form programming, an interactive games, a high school-based curriculum and special community events, the network announced Tuesday during the 2010 Cable Show here.
As part of the special Characters Unite month, USA Network will unveil a new, original Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign featuring a call to action for viewers to come together to take a stand against bigotry and intolerance. USA will also focus on developing original programming through special episodes of USA original series and/or movies that reflect the goals of Characters Unite.
"We're confronted by the consequences of intolerance every day, and the stakes have never been higher," said

Bonnie Hammer, president, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions in a statement. "Our goal is to use every means at our disposal, from USA's national multimedia platforms to market-by-market community outreach, to promote the ideals of diversity, acceptance and respect."
The network will also step up its grass roots community efforts beginning this fall as part of the campaign. USA is teaming up with New York City non-profit storytelling organization, The Moth, to produce "Mainstage" shows in five select markets across the country featuring local and celebrity storytellers sharing a true tale of overcoming prejudice or discrimination.
In conjunction with the Mainstage, USA Network and The Moth will train high school students in each of the five select markets to tell their own Characters Unite-themed stories. After-school workshops will culminate in an all-school storytelling assembly, in order to start a dialogue about important issues of diversity, tolerance and respect. USA will also create custom school kits for teachers in high schools across the country that will include storytelling activities based on The Moth workshop series.
"We are proud to be harnessing the power of all of our platforms and distributors, and look forward to forging new, strategic partnerships to increase the reach and impact of Characters Unite," added Brian Hunt, SVP Marketing & Sales Strategy, TV Networks Distribution, NBC Universal in a statement.
The Characters Unite 20 non-governmental partners include the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the American Association of People with Disabilities, the National Parent Teacher Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Council of La Raza, GLAAD, National Council of Women's Organizations, American Federation of Teachers, Anti-Defamation League, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Asian American Justice Center, Children's Defense Fund, General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights First, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Association of Counties, National Congress of American Indians, National Education Association and Southern Poverty Law Center.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.