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by TV News Desk
NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Chairman Bonnie Hammer today announced the launch of a new quarterly film series to build upon the Characters Unite public service campaign to combat hate and discrimination and promote greater tolerance and acceptance. The series of films that address important civil and human rights issues kicks off with a special presentation of The Color Purple on USA Network, on Saturday, November 17th at 8/7c, in commemoration of the United Nations' International Day for Tolerance. The limited commercial event, which will be presented by Honda, features a personal introduction by the film's star, Oscar-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg.
"As a society, we need to do a better job of teaching the importance of tolerance, especially to our children. With this film series, we have the opportunity to introduce movies like The Color Purple to a new generation and use the power of great storytelling to open minds and inspire change," said Ms. Hammer. "It was clear from the outpouring we received last April after airing To Kill A Mockingbird, with a special introduction by President Obama, that films that address issues of social injustice remain relevant and resonant. While times have changed and real progress has been made, the sad truth is... we still have a long way to go."
The special telecast of The Color Purple also coincides with the 30th anniversary of the publication of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning and The New York Times bestselling novel The Color Purple, on which the film is based. A gripping account of courage in the face of oppression, the film tells the story of a poor, uneducated, African-American girl named Celie Johnson (Whoopi Goldberg) living in rural Georgia during the 1930's. As Celie struggles to find her self-worth in a time of segregation and degradation, she encounters injustice at every turn. And yet, it is through these experiences that Celie is able to find her strength, her faith and her community, and is ultimately able to rise above the terrible, abusive circumstances surrounding her. The film adaptation, which was directed by Steven Spielberg and includes an all-star cast featuring Goldberg as well as Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover, received 11 Academy Award nominations.
"The Color Purple is a truly remarkable novel about unwavering perseverance in the face of incredible adversity. When Steven Spielberg offered me the part of Celie in the film version, I knew it was the role of a lifetime," said Ms. Goldberg. "Celie may have struggled with the challenges of another era, but her powerful story remains meaningful to this day."
"In writing The Color Purple I was able to create a work that connects us to the wisdom that sometimes comes camouflaged by our suffering, and to demonstrate how the terrible passage from ignorance and despair to understanding and hope can lead each of us to a new understanding of God," said Ms. Walker.
In addition to the airing of The Color Purple on USA, in-depth information and resources will be available through the second-screen experience application Zeebox and on charactersunite.com in order to help raise awareness and spark positive dialogue. In the coming months, additional plans will be announced that support efforts to encourage greater understanding and unity.
About Characters Unite
Characters Unite, USA Network's award-winning public service campaign was created to address the social injustices and cultural divides still prevalent in our society. Inspired by USA Network's iconic "Characters Welcome" brand and with the support of leading national nonprofit organizations, the ongoing campaign is dedicated to combating prejudice, discrimination and intolerance while promoting understanding and acceptance -- on-air, online and in communities around the country.
About USA Network
The #1 network in all of basic cable for six consecutive years and an unprecedented seven straight summers, USA Network is seen in over 102 million U.S. homes. USA is a leader in scripted programming with a powerful stable of originals, spectacular live television and is home to the best in blockbuster theatrical films, a broad portfolio of acquired series and entertainment events. A trailblazer in digital innovation and storytelling, USA is defining, driving and setting the industry standard for Social TV. USA is a program service of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, a division of NBCUniversal. The award-winning website is located at http://www.usanetwork.com. Characters Welcome.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.