Multichannel News held its Wonder Women of LA event June 6, with 15 industry leaders singled out as Wonder Women, one getting a Woman of Influence honor and one more receiving the Catalyst award. Held at the Sofitel in Beverly Hills, Wonder Women of L.A. is part of L.A. TV Week, a Broadcasting+Cable/Multichannel News production.
Darla Miles, WABC New York news correspondent; Pat Harvey, KCBS-KCAL Los Angeles anchor; and Hailey Winslow, KTTV Los Angeles reporter, shared hosting duties. Miles was out first.
Sylvia Bugg, PBS chief programming executive and general manager, general audience programming, spoke of the leadership shown by industry women in these eventful past couple years. “We remain at the forefront of transformation” in television, she said.
Bugg spoke of PBS diversifying its programming, so a broader audience sees themselves on the various platforms. “There is truly something on PBS platforms for everyone,” she said.
Next up was Ayo Davis, president of Disney Branded Television. She credited her mother for shaping “how I see myself and who I am.” She stressed how “representation matters” in Disney programming and the workforce. “We are seeing our reflection in all the shows that are being created,” said Davis.
Tara DeVeaux, chief marketing officer, Wild Card Creative Group, called CEO Alison Temple “an incredible mentor and an amazing friend,” and mentioned how the company has grown “exponentially” in recent years, and gotten more diverse. “We’ve built a company culture where they can thrive,” she said of employees from varied cultures and backgrounds.
Michele Edelman, head of growth at Premiere Digital, said she was sharing the award with her family, and stressed how the Wonder Woman superhero franchise is about peace, justice and equality, and a world without war, hate or violence. Whipping out her phone, she said she was calling Wonder Woman herself, and asked her to end the war.
Edelman urged the audience to “look below the surface and find your inner Wonder Woman.”
Lisa Hamilton Daly, Crown Media executive VP, mentioned Hallmark’s “stories that are about and for strong women … stories that allow women to see themselves in relatable, authentic ways.” She spoke of her stint at Netflix, where she said she was tasked with developing “Hallmark-style programming,” and said she’s happy to now “create Hallmark-style programming at Hallmark.”
Tara Duncan, Disney General Entertainment president, Freeform & Onyx Collective, spoke remotely, about programming “starting conversations that make an impact on culture.”
Pat Harvey was out next to host, giving Carmen Palmer, chief product officer at Marketcast, the WICT Network: Southern California Catalyst Award. “We’re here to build our next generation of Wonder Women,” stressed Palmer.
Lisa Knutson, president of Scripps Networks, spoke of her company’s mission to serve the community. “A real-life Wonder Woman,” she added, “is a champion to others.” Such executives, she said, “strive daily” to be the best in the world, and be the best for the world.”
Nikki Love, AMC Networks senior VP, development and production, told the story of her mother’s battle with scoliosis, and how her “life changed forever”, as a girl, upon her mother’s return from the hospital. She recalled seeing her mother fight to walk again. “It was one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen,” said Love.
Love spoke of taking her career journey “step by step, one day at a time.”
Wendy McMahon, CBS News and Stations president and co-head, too cited her mother as an influence. “I grew up convinced I could do anything,” she said, and that “anything was possible.”
McMahon spoke of coming on board last year at CBS, and being asked to “reimagine and rewrite the future of CBS News and Stations as one.”
She said journalism is about serving the public, “and serious times call for serious reporting.”
Tricia Melton, chief marketing officer, Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics, quoted Katherine Hepburn in one of the five guidelines she passed along for females in the industry. “If you obey all the rules,” she said, “you miss all the fun.”
Katherine Pope, senior VP, head of original content, Charter Communications, appeared via video. “Here’s to all the Wonder Women everywhere,” she said.
Julie Rapaport, head of movies at Amazon Studios, spoke of a “passion for great stories” going back to her childhood, when she sent letters to studios, urging them to consider making a film out of Louisa May Alcott’s lesser known novel, Little Men. “Even at a young age, I knew the importance of IP,” she quipped.
Rapaport mentioned that half of Amazon Studio films in 2022 are directed by women. “This commitment to female voices has shaped the stories we tell,” she said.
Shannon Ryan, president of content marketing, Hulu & General Entertainment (Disney), mentioned how lucky she feels to work on projects “from the world’s greatest creatives.”
Not all Wonder Women wear capes, she said. Describing in detail a day in the life of a working mother, Ryan added, “That is what it means to have superhuman strength. That is what it means to be a Wonder Woman.”
Jennifer Turner, executive VP, TriStar Television, mentioned spinning around with her friends as a girl, hoping to end up as a superhero. “We never quite turned ourselves into Wonder Woman,” she lamented.
She mentioned her mother and her aunt, and the strength and values they gave to her. “You can’t be a Wonder Woman if you don’t help others,” said Turner, “particularly women.”
Sarah Weidman, AXS TV head of programming, development and multi-platform content, spoke of starting out as an intern at an NBC affiliate, and “learning to tell stories about real people.”
Women are “unstoppable” when they share their experiences and help each other grow, she said.
Holly Robinson Peete, actress, producer and co-founder, HollyRod Foundation, spoke of her start in television, on Sesame Street, where her father, Matthew, played Gordon, and not quite getting her one line right.
She mentioned her son, RJ, and how his autism encouraged her to become an activist for that community. “I wouldn’t change RJ for the world,” she said. “But I’d change the world for RJ.”
Like many Wonder Women, Robinson Peete saluted her mother, who she said “blasted through glass ceilings for four decades.”
When the Wonder Women breakfast was over, everyone headed to the Sofitel patio for a mimosa. ■
Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
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