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Actress Geena Davis has long been an advocate for women in film. Now Davis and ARC Entertainment CEO Trevor Drinkwater have joined forces with Wal-Mart to host a film festival with an emphasis on women and diversity. Davis tells us why improvements for women in the industry have stalled over time, and how she hopes to make a lasting change with this festival. And Rick Ludwin, the former head of late night at NBC stopped by The Spin-off podcast recently. We share part of his conversation about why The Tonight Show has spurred so many battles over the years.

Photo: Geena Davis, actress and chair of the Bentonville Film Festival. Courtesy of Rogers & Cowan

Producers:
Kaitlin Parker

Hollywood News Banter 7 MIN, 2 SEC

Kim Masters and Michael Schneider discuss top entertainment news stories of the week.

- At Sony Pictures, Amy Pascal's out, Tom Rothman's in. That makes Wall Street analysts happy, but filmmakers? Not so much.
- Adam Goodman is officially out as the president of Paramount Film Group.
- The bad news at DreamWorks Animation only gets worse. The company took a major write-down on its most recent film.

More:
Tom Rothman on his Sony era: "I Prize Stability"
Paramount confirms Adam Goodman's exit, begins search for successor
DreamWorks Animation takes $57M write-down on 'Penguins of Madagascar'

The Bentonville Film Festival 16 MIN, 31 SEC

You may remember Geena Davis when she was on the lam in Thelma and Louise, or as Dottie the baseball-playing dairy farmer in A League of Their Own. She also played the President of the United States in the television show Commander In Chief.

Davis has played a lot of great, complex roles but knows that good parts for women are far too few. Ever since she's worked in Hollywood, she's heard talk that certain movies -- often ones she starred in -- would improve availability of roles for women in the industry. But the momentum just never seemed to be there.

Davis made personal appeals to studio executives and filmmakers, without much luck. Then, watching television with her young daughter one day, she realized the gender disparity on screen wasn't just in movies for grown ups, it was happening right from the beginning -- in TV for young children.

That's when Davis knew she needed some hard facts and numbers to make her case. To conduct the research no one else was doing, she founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

Now, Davis has moved beyond research by partnering with Trevor Drinkwater, an entertainment executive with experience in consumer products. Drinkwater heads ARC Entertainment, a company with an emphasis on making movies to sell products. His largest customer? Walmart.

Last year, Walmart and Drinkwater came up within the idea of hosting a festival with a focus on diversity. They figured it's good for the company and good for business. And they'd host it right in the town of Bentonville, Arkansas -- the home of Walmart.

Drinkwater pitched the concept to his friend Geena Davis, and right away she said yes.

In addition to Walmart, the Bentonville Film Festival boasts other big sponsors like Coca Cola and Kraft. Films in competition will be evaluated on their commercial potential, and the top winners will be guaranteed theatrical distribution through AMC, something no other film festival offers.

The Bentonville Film Festival runs May 5-9, 2015. Davis and Drinkwater hope it will be the first of many.

Guests:
Geena Davis, actress (@GDIGM)
Trevor Drinkwater, ARC Entertainment

Rick Ludwin on Late Night 3 MIN, 52 SEC

Rick Ludwin oversaw Late Night and Special Programming at NBC for more than 30 years -- from 1980 until 2012. Michael Schneider and Joe Adalian pick his brain about famous late night transitions and the shortage of women in late night. And Ludwin tells us why he thinks it is that people get so emotionally attached to hosts of The Tonight Show, even if its not a show they regularly watch.

Guests:
Rick Ludwin, former head of late night at NBC (@riclud)

More:
Hear more of Michael Schneider and Joe Adalian's conversation with Rick Ludwin on KCRW's Spin-off podcast

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