Friday, February 1, 2008

Andi Bushell ~ Picture This, Special Olympics Hollywood! 2007

Andi Bushell, Supervising Producer/Writer of "Criminal Minds", explains the process of how the hit CBS television show comes up with new story ideas as she collaborates with a roundtable discussion during the "Picture This" event.

Special Olympics and the Entertainment Industry Council (EIC) united leaders in the area of intellectual disabilities in a “Picture This - Intellectual Disabilities” event held at the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington, DC (USA) on 28 February. The event fostered the collaboration of more than 40 leaders from various intellectual disabilities organizations and self-advocates in order to create concise messaging for a panel of Hollywood writers, producers and directors so that people with intellectual disabilities may be more frequently and accurately portrayed on-screen.

Among the “Picture This” participants were Special Olympics International Board Member Vanessa Williams and Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver. The Hollywood panelists included Rosemary Rodriguez, Director, ''Without a Trace''; Andi Bushell, Supervising Producer/Writer, ''Criminal Minds''; Sue Castle, Creator/Executive Producer, ''In the Mix'', the national award-winning TV series for teens and by teens on-air every week on PBS; and Maria Macina, Producer, ''Guiding Light,'' the longest-running show on television.

For Special Olympics, the “Picture This!” event is an initial step in fostering a partnership with EIC, the most notable organization providing information, awareness and understanding of major health and social issues among the entertainment industries. This partnership will allow Special Olympics to reach a wide array of film and television decision-makers to depict people with intellectual disabilities more accurately and frequently and to position the Special Olympics movement as the leading expert to Hollywood in the area of intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics believes it can help change attitudes and misunderstandings about people with intellectual disabilities, fostering greater acceptance through the influence of Hollywood, as well as abolish the use of the epitaph “retard,” making it socially unacceptable to even utter the word.

From the collaboration and discussions held at the “Picture This!” event, a report will be published to serve as a resource for Hollywood in accurately depicting people with intellectual disabilities. The Intellectual Disabilities Report will be sent to more than 6,500 writers, researchers and directors to help influence them to more frequently cover this topic in story lines and to more accurately depict people with intellectual disabilities and the Special Olympics movement. The resource will break down long-standing myths and misunderstandings, common negative assumptions about this population and persistent negative influences, so that Hollywood can help make a difference.