USA Network announces second Characters Unite Month, multi-platform effort to shine a spotlight on the importance of stopping intolerance and hate
Month Features New On-Air PSA and Digital Campaign to Mobilize People Against Discrimination and Documentary Profiling NFL Greats Tony Dungy, Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham and Hines Ward
Characters Unite National Storytelling Tour Stops In Los Angeles With Special Star-Studded Show Hosted By Tony Award Winner Nathan Lane, with Special Guest Matt Bomer and Stories by Academy-Award nominee Octavia Spencer and Academy-Award Winner Dustin Lance Black, Special Performance by Grammy-Winner John Legend.
NEW YORK — USA Network announced today the launch of its second Characters Unite Month beginning in February, to build on its ongoing public service commitment to combat prejudice and discrimination. Throughout the month, USA will premiere original programming and PSAs, unveil new digital content and expand its community outreach efforts to inspire more Americans to come together to promote greater tolerance, respect and acceptance.
“Characters Unite Month is a time to put a much-needed spotlight on the importance of fighting hate and discrimination,” said Chris McCumber, USA co-president. “Huge problems such as bullying, racism, religious intolerance and other forms of discrimination can seem insurmountable. We want to let everyone, everywhere, know that they can make a difference, just simply by speaking up and saying I won’t stand for it anymore.”
Highlights of Characters Unite Month include:
“I Won’t Stand For…” Campaign
- Public Service Announcements (PSAs): Powerful new PSAs sending a message that people from all walks of life will no longer stand idly by in the face of prejudice and discrimination. Directed by commercial director Phil Griffin of Radical Media, the spots feature hundreds of diverse characters – including USA Network stars SAG Award nominee Patrick J. Adams and Meghan Markle of SUITS, Christopher Gorham of COVERT AFFAIRS, Reshma Shetty of ROYAL PAINS, and Marsha Thomason of WHITE COLLAR – all conveying a shared commitment to fight social injustice by sitting down wherever they are all across the country, from a busy New York City street corner to an iconic Bourbon Street storefront to a virtually empty Santa Monica beach. Everyone proudly wears special t-shirts expressing what they won’t stand for, such as racism, bullying, religious intolerance, ableism, homophobia, sexism and more.
- Expanded Video Content: The campaign extends online at charactersunite.com with dozens of short films revealing the PSA participants’ very personal experiences of dealing with prejudice and bigotry. USA will encourage viewers to share their own stories of what they won’t stand for and why via Characters Unite digital platforms.
- On-the-Ground Activation: USA will create special activations in New York City (Feb. 8 and 9) and Washington (Feb. 28) where people can come to create their own custom "I Won't Stand For..." t-shirts and share photos and video to engage their friends and family in the movement.
“NFL Characters Unite”
- Original Documentary: A one-hour special profiling Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez, New Orleans Saints star tight end Jimmy Graham, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and Super Bowl XL MVP Hines Ward, and NBC’s “Football Night in America” analyst and Super Bowl-winning Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy and narrated by NBC Sports’ Chris Collingsworth. In the film, the NFL stars share their personal journeys of overcoming prejudice and discrimination and help to transform the life of a teen currently dealing with a similar situation. Through candid interviews and unique one-on-one activities, these on- and off-the-field heroes help bring diverse people together, change attitudes and instill courage and compassion. The film was created and executive produced by The Hochberg Ebersol Company’s co-founders Charlie Ebersol and Justin W. Hochberg, and directed by NFL Films’ Greg Frith. NFL CHARACTERS UNITE will air on Friday, February 10 at 7pmET/PT.
- Super Bowl Special Event: USA, the NFL and The Hochberg Ebersol Company will co-host a special brunch during Super Bowl weekend in Indianapolis to highlight the documentary and the partnership to fight intolerance and hate.
Episodes of WHITE COLLAR and ROYAL PAINS that each include a Characters Unite storyline:
- In WHITE COLLAR (Feb. 7, 10/9c), Diana (Marsha Thomason) shares news of her engagement and discovers only acceptance from her colleagues.
- In ROYAL PAINS (Feb. 22, 10/9c), Divya (Reshma Shetty) cares for a patient who has experienced discrimination in the workplace because of her disability. A PSA in partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) will premiere as part of the episode directing viewers to more information and resources at charactersunite.com.
A custom on-air bug and multiple snipes throughout the month will drive viewers to charactersunite.com and encourage them to get involved.
Characters Unite National Storytelling Tour: Los Angeles Stop
In partnership with the renowned nonprofit The Moth, USA continues the Tour – “A More Perfect Union: Stories of Prejudice and Power” -- to use the power of storytelling to bring diverse people together, foster greater understanding and encourage respect.
In February, the tour will partner with Time Warner Cable to stop in Los Angeles for:
- Mainstage Showcase: Hosted by Tony, Emmy and Screen Actors Guild award-winning Nathan Lane with special guest Matt Bomer from USA’s WHITE COLLAR, the showcase on Wednesday, February 15 at the Pacific Design Center will feature five storytellers, including Academy-Award nominee Octavia Spencer and Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, each sharing a true story of overcoming discrimination and how it impacted their identity and outlook. The event also will include a special performance by Grammy Award-winning artist John Legend.
- High School Program: Ten students at Jefferson High School in East Los Angeles will participate in after-school workshops led by The Moth and then share their own stories of facing bullying, hate or discrimination at an all-school assembly on February 17.
Los Angeles is the ninth stop on the Storytelling Tour, which has been to New Orleans, New York, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Washington, D.C., St. Louis and Atlanta.
Characters Unite Awards
USA and its Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (MVPD) partners will launch the Characters Unite Awards to honor extraordinary individuals who have made significant efforts to champion civil and human rights in their communities.
- Call for Nominations: An on-air spot featuring COMMON LAW’s Michael Ealy calling for nominations will run on USA and its participating affiliates throughout the entry period (February 1 – March 15).
- Award Winners: Winners will be featured on-air and online and each will receive $5000 to support his/her project or related nonprofit organization. Each will be honored this spring at local market ceremonies.
- A newly re-designed, more interactive charactersunite.com with extensive information, resources and video content
- Extensive social media outreach throughout the Month
Please log on to http://www.charactersunite.com/ for more information on the initiative and what you can do to make a difference.
Characters Unite Partners
USA’s nonprofit partners in the year-round Characters Unite public service campaign include: American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD); American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Human Rights First (HRF), Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Association of Counties (NACo), National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), National Council of La Raza (NCLR), National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), National Education Association (NEA), National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and General Board of Church & Society, United Methodist Church.
USA Network is the #1 network in all of basic cable and is seen in over 102 million U.S. homes. A division of NBCUniversal, USA is the cable television leader in original series and is home to the biggest hits in blockbuster films, acquired television and entertainment events. Viewers come to USA to find television's best in critically-acclaimed and award-winning original programming, such as BURN NOTICE, ROYAL PAINS, WHITE COLLAR, COVERT AFFAIRS, FAIRLY LEGAL, PSYCH, IN PLAIN SIGHT, SUITS, NECESSARY ROUGHNESS and WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW, as well as the highest-rated acquired originals, including HOUSE, NCIS, LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT and CSI. The award-winning USA website is located at www.usanetwork.com, which is home to the popular new casual gaming site, www.characterarcade.com. Characters Welcome.
USA Network is a program service of NBCUniversal Cable a division of NBCUniversal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience.