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Martin Kaplan

Norman Lear Chair in Entertainment, Media and SocietyDirector, The Norman Lear Center Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
University of Southern California

There couldn’t be a better moment for the launch of The Third Eye. Hollywood, Health & Society – a program I lead in Los Angeles – has been providing free expert resources to screenwriters since 2001. Now, thanks to The Third Eye, the same service is coming to India.

The Indian entertainment industry is not only successful, but also diverse – with a wide variety of genres increasingly finding enthusiastic fans in India and around the world. And just as Hollywood writers are concerned with the many health and social issues affecting American viewers, so too are Indian filmmakers fully engaged with the challenges posed by India’s rapid development. India’s public health and academic sectors can provide rich resources for writers, directors, producers and entertainment executives. The priority now is to build bridges among those players, and The Third Eye is perfectly situated to do that.

I’m a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California – I’m honored to hold the Norman Lear Chair in Entertainment, Media and Society. In 2001, I founded the Norman Lear Center, whose purpose, exemplified by so many of Mr. Lear’s television series, is to understand and engage the power of entertainment to serve society.

Though I’m an academic now, my background includes 12 years at Walt Disney Studios, as both a vice president of live action feature films, and a screenwriter and producer. At Disney, I very much appreciated the fact that the entertainment industry is a profit-making business that lives and dies by its ability to attract consumers. But as the originator of the Lear Center’s Hollywood, Health & Society program, now in its 13th year, I also appreciate the way entertainment can have a profound and positive impact on the lives of billions of people around the globe. Hollywood, Health & Society has a proven track record. We’ve worked with all the broadcast and major cable TV stations in the U.S., as well as the Hollywood studios and independent producers. We’ve handled hundreds of queries from writers, and the storylines in well over 500 shows have benefited from consultations. We’ve measured the impact of storylines on viewers’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior; the effects can be quite impressive.

And now we’re thrilled to partner with The Third Eye as a resource for the Indian entertainment industry. My Lear Center colleague Chris Dzialo and I, and all our Hollywood, Health & Society program staff, couldn’t want a better partner than Vinta Nanda, an accomplished writer, producer and director, and the talented team she’s assembled. Thank you for learning about The Third Eye. We hope it will be of service to you in your work.

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