Entertainment Symposium Night 1: Working Through COVID-19

July 29, 2020

The 44th Annual UCLA Entertainment Symposium has launched a four-week series of webinars that keep the signature tradition going during the coronavirus pandemic. On July 22, more than 870 people from around the country livestreamed the first night’s presentation, featuring discussions that focused on COVID-19’s impact on the entertainment industry.

Following opening remarks from UCLA School of Law Dean Jennifer L. Mnookin, media analyst Tom Wolzien offered his annual review of the state of the business. Titled “The World Turned Upside Down: Divining the Media Business in Dystopian Days,” his multimedia presentation — including a trip to a local drive-in movie theater — highlighted how the pandemic has caused changes in viewership, boosted streaming platforms and devastated theaters. While companies pursue cost-cutting strategies to survive, they have also adapted by embracing new technologies that could help in efforts to ramp-up production.

During the evening’s second presentation, “The Safety Dance: How the Entertainment Industry Is Working Through a COVID-19 Pandemic,” moderator Jodi Peikoff of Peikoff Mahan and panelists Pamela J. Martinson of Sidley Austin, Stephen Plum of Paramount Pictures, and Daniel R'bibo of Gallagher explored issues including insurance, talent health and safety concerns, federal lending programs, and how to safely resume productions. While they acknowledged the permanent impact that the pandemic will have on the entertainment industry, the speakers offered opportunities for optimism.

Traditionally held on the UCLA campus each spring, the symposium was postponed and moved to its virtual home for 2020 thanks to the flexibility of the Entertainment Symposium Advisory Committee, panelists and others. The webinar series continues with three more evening sessions — on July 29, Aug. 5 and Aug. 12 — culminating in a final-night keynote conversation between Robert Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer, and Ken Ziffren ’65, founder of UCLA Law’s Ziffren Institute for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law.

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