Bibliografia su attorialità e industria televisiva

Jonathan Bignell, “Performing Television History”, in Critical Studies in Television 13(3), 2018, pp. 262-279.

Tratto da un intervento convegnistico del 2016, in questo articolo Jonathan Bignell propone di concettualizzare l’attorialità televisiva in modo più ampio rispetto al passato. Essa è concepita come parte di un insieme più esteso di attività creative e gestionali che nel loro insieme determinano l’identità del medium televisivo. Questa nuova concettualizzazione ha ripercussioni sulla comprensione dell’evoluzione storica del medium e sull’analisi della sua attuale identità culturale.

“Actors are crucial to very many television performances, but the concept of performance refers also to the work of non-professionals on-screen, and the aspects of style and mise-en-scène that frame how dramatic storytelling is carried out. […] [T]elevision performance need to expand their notion of what constitutes performance, beyond the topic of acting, but maintain rigour in addressing questions of medium specificity by historicising them. Performance for television changed diachronically and also synchronically in relation to cultural value and canonicity” (pp. 262; 264).


Graeme Turner, Understanding Celebrity [seconda edizione]. Sage Publishing, Thousand Oaks 2013.

Questo testo chiave nell’ambito dei celebrity studies ci aiuta a comprendere le specificità dell’attorialità televisiva in tale contesto. In particolare, Turner mette in parallelo forme di divismo presenti agli albori dell’industria cinematografica americana, le “picture personalities”, e quelle della televisione contemporanea. A differenza delle “stars”, per cui la vita privata acquisisce un valore commerciale indipendente dalle loro performance, l’esposizione della vita dei personaggi televisivi crea una relazione più immediata e più “familiare” tra la loro presenza on-screen e il pubblico.

“[In early Hollywood] promotional discourse attempted to construct a close correlation between the performance on screen and the discursive construction of a private self. Television would seem to be replicating that approach in the strategies it uses to promote some of its personalities today, with the marketing of Survivor and other reality television formats only the most recent instances of its deployment. […] [T]elevision personalities construct their celebrities though ‘conceptions of familiarity” (pp. 17; 23).


Alfred L. Martin Jr, “The Queer Business of Casting Gay Characters on US Television”, Communication Culture & Critique, 11(2), 2018, pp. 282-297.

Questo studio sulle pratiche di casting, affronta dibattiti sulla rappresentazione dell’omosessualità nella produzione culturale. L’autore individua tre discorsi correlati che guidano le decisioni dei casting director. Questi sono apparentemente animati da principi meritocratici, ma sono in realtà tecniche di negoziazione del potere simbolico.

“Examining casting for gay roles exposes the patterns involved with who is allowed to work within the culture industries and highlights the mechanisms, like the best actor discourse, that work in the service of maintaining the industry’s hegemony. This article exposed the inherent contradictions in the ways casting logics function to center ‘choice’ while concomitantly ensuring those choices tend to uphold existing ideologies” (p. 13).


Vicki Mayer, “Bringing the Social Back In: Studies of Production Cultures and Social Theory”, in Vicky Mayer, Miranda Banks, John T. Caldwell (a cura di), Production Studies: Cultural Studies of Media Industries, Routledge, New York 2009, pp. 15–24.

Questo importante intervento indaga il casting nell’ambito dell’industria audiovisiva, utilizzando e aggiornando il concetto marxiano di alienazione. Spesso gli obiettivi dei casting non sono quelli esplicitati nelle call, ma perseguono logiche commerciali estranee alle reali necessità della produzione (per es. il local branding). Questo può essere fonte di ansia e frustrazione per gli addetti ai lavori.

“Alienation seems to be a continuing feature of modern production, whether in the refurbished industrial space of a daycare or in the postindustrial practices of the reality caster waiting for the next contract. […] Television programs, the result of hundreds of micro-processes from script-writing to distribution, rely on thousands of collaborative efforts, but without some form of fieldwork it is hard to know how these collaborations manifest to make workers accept the fact that the arrangements result in uncompensated labors” (p. 23).

Stephen Zafirau, “Reputation Work in Selling Film and Television: Life in the Hollywood Talent Industry”, in Qualitative Sociology 31(2), 2008, pp. 99–127.

Questo articolo esplora uno dei territori che più influenzano le carriere degli attori televisivi, le agenzie di gestione dei talenti. L’articolo fa luce su come i talent agents riescano ad espandere il numero e il prestigio delle loro relazioni commerciali. Il passaggio che segue dimostra come alcune dinamiche industriali siano del tutto delegate a questioni di fiducia personale o di obbedienza, vera o presunta, a regole e convezioni che aumentano il cosiddetto “capitale reputazionale” di questi intermediari.

“[R]eputation helps Hollywood talent representatives make contacts, facilitates trust within their networks, marks competency where few other criteria for success exist, and provides talent representatives with insurance against rapid changes within the industry’s networks. Reputation work, as a series of performances to meet institutionalized interactional expectations in everyday life, is a means of working toward securing legitimacy within the industry. By correctly recognizing institutionalized expectations and then attempting to correctly perform them in their everyday interactions, they perceive that their abilities to produce outcomes and navigate uncertainties will be enhanced” (p. 124).


Violaine Roussel, “Talent Agenting in the Age of Conglomerates”, in Michael Curtin and Kevin Sanson (a cura di), Precarious Creativity, University of California Press, Berkeley 2016, pp. 74-87.

L’internazionalizzazione dell’economia sta cambiando Hollywood. Violaine Roussel ha messo la lente d’ingrandimento sull’impatto che i cambiamenti industriali stanno avendo sull’industria dei talenti. L’autrice di questo intervento offre una descrizione dei processi di innovazione considerando i mutamenti ma dando il giusto spazio anche agli aspetti di continuità con il passato. Le gerarchie del prestigio culturale, sostiene l’autrice, sono ancora attuali.

“Generally speaking and more importantly, the current socio-economic conditions transforming Hollywood are better adapted to the ‘businessmen-agents’ profile than to that of those who mostly wanted to ‘be in the arts.’ [Nevertheless] Prestige hierarchies in the industry still place motion pictures above television (nonscripted television shows for sure, and arguably scripted ones too, even though the development of cable channels has made the frontier between film and television much more permeable) as well as gaming and web products—in sum, above the most lucrative sectors of talent representation. This consubstantial inter play between sources of prestige and sources of revenue still organizes the industry” (pp. 84-85).


Francesca Vicentini, Paolo Boccardelli, “Career Diversity and Project Performance in the Italian Television Industry”, Journal of Business Research, 69(7), 2016, pp. 2380-2387.

Questo studio di area economica e di management presenta i risultati di un’interessante ricerca sul contesto televisivo italiano, usando il concetto di “boundaryless careers” per descrivere l’estrema fluidità e flessibilità delle carriere di attori e attrici. Le loro attività professionali si estendono spesso, infatti, al di fuori delle industrie culturali.

“The findings about the significant and negative moderating effect yielded by career diversity accumulated within the same industry on past industry career diversity across industries and current project performance, reveals that career patterns are not complementary but rather imperfect substitutes. This issue, in turn, may lead creative workers to voluntary choose to be typecast in order to obtain future employment within the same project-based industry, or alternatively to experiment with different career patterns across industries without being specialized in any industry and role for their entire career” (p. 2386).


Christopher Hogg, Charlotte Lucy Smith, “Well-being and the Television Actor: Challenges and Coping Strategies”, in Cantrell Tom, Christopher Hogg (a cura di.) Exploring Television Acting. Bloomsbury Publishing, London 2018, pp. 171-186.

Il tema del benessere psico-fisico (wellbeing) sta ricevendo crescente attenzione da parte di ricercatori internazionali. In questo capitolo gli autori analizzano l’impatto delle condizioni lavorative della produzione televisiva sulla stabilità emotiva e psicologica degli attori. Essere in grado di gestire emotivamente e psicologicamente continui rifiuti e instabilità lavorativa sembra essere una delle abilità chiave che influenzano la vita e la carriera di attori e attrici.

“[A]ctors as ‘at risk’ population, experiencing tensions between an understanding of their work ‘as a passion, a calling or even a purpose’ and the realities of a job ‘rife with rejections, a lack of agency, and income instability’. […] These tensions are often further exacerbated by some of the more peculiar working conditions of television acting, including extremely limited formalized rehearsal time for actors within particularly rapid, intense and – in the case of long-term drama – ongoing production schedule […]. Furthermore […] television drama can require actors to be able to assume both short-term visiting roles with a lack of stability and security and also long-term roles demanding heighten and sustained levels of investments […]” (p. 172-173).


David Hesmondhalgh, Sarah Baker, “‘A Very Complicated Version of Freedom’: Conditions and Experiences of Creative Labour in Three Cultural Industries”, in Poetics 38(1), 2010, pp. 4-20.

Questo saggio costituisce un’ottima introduzione a temi legati alle peculiari esperienze lavorative nelle industrie culturali. I due autori offrono un resoconto che si distanzia parzialmente da analisi contraddistinte da uno spiccato pessimismo (per es. eccessiva precarietà, autosfruttamento). Pur riconoscendo tali difficoltà, questa ricerca dipinge uno scenario più variegato e ambivalente utile per contestualizzare anche la ricerca sugli attori in ambito italiano.

“Whilst some workers highly valued the freedom purportedly offered by the cultural industries, as our title suggests this freedom is complicated because it involves a very strong sense of ambivalence for many workers […]. Of course such ambivalent experiences may seem delightful compared with some of the brutal conditions faced by workers across the world, including the world’s wealthiest economies […] [W]e confront broader theoretical and historical questions of what the conditions and experiences of contemporary cultural work mean […]” (p. 18).


Paul Dwyer, “Flexibility, Innovation and Precarity in the Television Industry”, in Deuze, Mark and Mirjam Prenger (a cura di) Making Media: Production, Practices, and Professions. Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam 2019, pp. 347-359.

Per molto tempo e ancora per molti studiosi, la flessibilità organizzativa è necessariamente connessa a innovazione e dinamismo dell’industria. In questo capitolo, Paul Dwyer sostiene che non esiste nessun legame necessario tra alti livelli di flessibilità industriale e innovazione. La flessibilità ha però consentito di abbassare sistematicamente il costo del lavoro e di aumentare la precarietà, offrendo all’industria un ottimo vantaggio competitivo soprattutto in termini di concorrenza internazionale.

“This understanding of the major UK independent TV companies, as highly profitable producers of a relatively narrow range of factual/entertainment formats, within the major global entertainment corporations, does not accord with FS theory and the ideas of flexibility, innovation and diversity which have dominated the policy debate. Instead, it suggests that precarity of employment in the sector is driven not by the need for flexibility and innovation but by shareholder interests in reducing labour costs and increasing profitability” (p. 357).

Share