Signed in as:
- Feedback/ Events/Contact
- Advanced TV Herstory
Signed in as:
On this episode of Advanced TV Herstory, we connect the dots between TV and feminism with American culture and politics by remembering the 1979 television miniseries, Backstairs at the White House.
The series is based on the New York Times bestseller by Lillian Rogers Parks, a seamstress in the White House from 1939-1961. Parks based the book on her own experiences and on those of her mother, Maggie Rogers, who, as a maid in the White House from 1909-1939, was encouraged by Eleanor Roosevelt to keep a diary of her time serving the various first families.
Labor Day 2023 will mark the major event of a combined strike of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild—American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). Both unions are currently led by women: Fran Drescher, Meredith Stiehm, and Lisa Takeuchi Cullen.
Even prior to the two union merger in 2012, SAG and AFTRA had elected nine strong and inspiring women to lead their labor causes like health and pension benefits, residuals, and managing during COVID. The WGA, first led by a woman in 2001, represents writers on a myriad of issues like credit, contracts, and benefits.
Today, these unions are on strike, with primary issues of artificial intelligence to create content and fabricate performers, and how payment formulas for writers and performers will be commensurate with successful streaming. Since the WGA declared its strike and actors followed, Advanced TV Herstory has stood resolutely with all the talented creators. This episode tells of the dedication to workers’ rights and social progress within a distinct and complex business model.
Barbara Walters, Lesley Stahl and Connie Chung are the women who reported on the Watergate Scandal for the national news networks. That's the headline, says host Cynthia Bemis Abrams. Cynthia reviews the representation of women in journalism and how Walters ascended from Washington bureau to co-anchor of The Today Show. She later explains how Lesley Stahl and Connie Chung built strong careers out of opportunities created by Affirmative Action.
Host Cynthia Bemis Abrams walks through the deep details of two powerful moments in morning news television. Audience favorites Ann Curry and Jane Pauley were unceremoniously dismissed from The Today Show for questionable reasons which Cynthia sees looking an awful lot like misogyny. Cynthia reviews the relationship between Ann Curry and network golden boy Matt Lauer. as well as the Bryant Gumbel spin on Jane Pauley's 1989 departure. Cynthia brings the topic of careers and power plays to the more recent actions by ABC's Kelly Ripa. As a morning television mainstay and from a different generation than Ann and Jane, Ripa controls her messaging in a new way, even if that assumes risk.
Host Cynthia Bemis Abrams welcomes noted television writer Susan Silver to discuss American politics and presidential campaign coverage from the broadcast and cable news programs. Cynthia and Susan showcase women reporters and analysts, during the campaign that features the first woman candidate from a major political party.
Host Cynthia Bemis Abrams concludes, "it's all in the sound!" Cynthia's research began when she was reading about First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who was a pioneering and prolific communicator. While not often on TV unscripted, Roosevelt appeared on Frank Sinatra's show in 1959 and recited a poem in a voice that sends chills up a spine, as a distinct American voice and sentiment. Just 15 years later, Betty Ford, unapologetic feminist catapulted to the role of First Lady. Cynthia details how the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew, led to Cong. Gerald Ford's (MI) appointment. In August 1974, President Nixon's resignation elevated VP Gerald Ford to the presidency and with him was Betty, his true partner. Betty cast a new mold for First Ladies, with her outspoken activism on health, addiction and women's issues.
Host Cynthia Bemis Abrams recounts the heyday of feminism, when tennis ace Billie Jean King accepted the challenge to play Bobbie Riggs in a prime time match. The backstory of King agreeing to the offer is fascinating and reveals the risk King took on behalf of feminism and the progress of Title IX, women's rights and the campaign to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.