Hollywood on Board with Hiring Those That are Least Employable?

Another great article over at www.change.org

The Bold & the Beautiful to Feature Homelessness & Povertyby Becky Blanton October 27, 2010 Does Hollywood imitate life? Or does life imitate Hollywood? For the most watched television soap opera in the world (with 26 million+ viewers), the answer is, both.

Beginning tomorrow, Oct. 28, The Bold & the Beautiful will begin airing episodes featuring real homeless people. According to TV GuideB&B producers went down to LA’s Skid Row and hired 25 homeless people for the show. They filmed them telling their stories and plan to air the interviews as part of a plot line that has one of the soap opera’s characters, Stephanie Forrester, who is battling terminal cancer, reaching out to the less fortunate.

Executive producer and head writer Brad Bell says it’s not a one-time thing. He has hired an additional 30 homeless people to appear as extras and says he doesn’t want to drop the storyline anytime soon. He plans to make it part of The Bold & the Beautiful’s holiday season. He also said that the whole experience changed him.

This has been a huge awakening for me — I now have a real appreciation for the pillow under my head and the roof that’s over me. So many people are just a paycheck away from homelessness or living in a shelter,” he said. “Our entire production company has been changed by this experience. Hopefully, so has the audience. To be a great country we need to take care of these people. As they say, we’re only as strong as our weakest link.”

Media coverage of the homeless tends to be negative and stereotypical, leading many viewers to believe that the homeless populations they see standing on the street corner are representative of homeless people everywhere. It’ll be interesting to see if this soap does anything different. Did Bell and The Bold & the Beautiful production team include the working mothers living in hotels or the teens who were kicked out because they admitted being gay? Will they provide a realistic view of the homeless and the challenges they truly face, or will they sanitize life on the LA streets for viewers?

While addiction and mental illness certainly affect 20 or so percent of the homeless population, I hope Bell takes time to address the real issues that affect the majority of the homeless — the lack of affordable housing and child care and living wage jobs.

Bell is in a potentially powerful position to create hope and change among many of the homeless in America. One, how he chooses to portray the homeless will influence how many viewers respond to the homeless in their part of the country. And two, by also incorporating how his characters can realistically help the homeless he can educate viewers who wouldn’t normally think of helping out.

Photo credit: TV Guide

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