Friday, August 28, 2009

Viacom to Host Get Schooled Conference and Documentary Premiere at Paramount Pictures Lot

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B) will join other corporations and nonprofit organizations, as well as education thought leaders, policymakers and concerned entertainment industry professionals at the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood to formally launch the Get Schooled initiative and engage students, families and community members in efforts to reform the nation's public schools and provide American youth with a world-class education.

The back-to-school event on Sept. 8 will kick off with an afternoon conference featuring presentations by Bill Gates, Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller, filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, author and political columnist Arianna Huffington, New York City Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein and Los Angeles area high school athletic director Stephen Minix. Stephen Colbert, host of the popular television show The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, will serve as the master of ceremonies for the conference.

The Paramount Pictures lot will also host a premiere of the special documentary, Get Schooled: You Have the Right, which highlights the education stories of three successful professionals who work with President Barack Obama, 2009 NBA MVP LeBron James and pop superstar Kelly Clarkson. At the event, the Gates Foundation and Viacom will welcome corporate partners AT&T, Capital One Financial Corporation and NYSE Euronext, which have each signed on to the Get Schooled initiative in order to promote education reform efforts and develop innovative ways of engaging communities and supporting students.

"Get Schooled brings together the immense creativity and ingenuity of leaders in business and the entertainment industries to inspire students to pursue an education that has real value in the global marketplace. We hope this conversation will inspire communities to fix our nation's public education system," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation.

The conference presentations will address why it is vital that the public become more engaged in education now and will challenge conventional thinking about how to fix America's schools and how to ensure all young people, especially those from historically underserved communities, can gain the skills they need to succeed. The speakers will share fresh perspectives about finding workable solutions that will improve the quality of public education in America, including engaging communities, businesses, media and a diverse group of partners.

"We cannot afford to ignore the problems in our education system and squander America's opportunity for a bright and prosperous future. The time for substantive school reform is now. Get Schooled serves as a rallying point for all education stakeholders and partners from the public and private spheres. We can mobilize our audiences and communities to create new solutions to ensure that the next generation will be able to compete in the global marketplace," said Philippe Dauman, president and CEO of Viacom.

"This exciting initiative co-developed by Gates Foundation and Viacom steps up the conversation America is finally having over the need to improve our schools and expand opportunities for our students to compete in a global economy. This project has the potential to deliver a compelling message about the power of education to millions of young people and motivate them to succeed," said New York City Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein.


As announced last week, the 30-minute Get Schooled: You Have the Right documentary will air on Sept. 8 at 8 p.m. and will feature President Barack Obama, Kelly Clarkson and LeBron James. The program will highlight the education challenges, life choices and breakthroughs experienced by President Obama's speechwriter Sarah Hurwitz, Clarkson's music director Jason Halbert and James' sports marketing executive Latesha Williams - three professionals who provide critical support to these leading figures in politics, entertainment and sports, respectively. The documentary special will be aired in the first programming "roadblock" of any kind across all Viacom networks, including BET, MTV, VH1, CMT, COMEDY CENTRAL, Spike TV, TV Land and Nickelodeon. Cable partners for the television premiere of Get Schooled: You Have the Right include Comcast, Cablevision, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks.

Get Schooled is a national program that connects, inspires and mobilizes people - from policymakers and corporate leaders to communities and kids - to find effective solutions to the problems facing our education system. It provides resources and information, community outreach and creative programming that engage a range of audiences to address America's education crisis. Get Schooled's co-developers are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Viacom, including BET Networks, MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures. The initiative combines the Foundation's deep knowledge of education reform with the power of Viacom's diverse brands to raise awareness about the challenges facing America's public education system and provide information and solutions for students and their families.

Qualms with education in the United States are not new, but The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Viacom's proactive campaign shows an original approach to a longstanding issue. The documentary, Get Schooled: You Have the Right, is drawing attention all over the nation, due to Viacom and other committed sponsors. Not only is the community invited to the viewing of Get Schooled at the Paramount Picture's parking lot, but the documentary will air across all Viacom networks — making the documentary accessible across the country.

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