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A Media Production Company


Director of Photography Blake McHugh on location at a foundry in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Founded in 1988, The Working Group is an Oakland-based non-profit media company that combines television, internet and web resources with outreach and organizing efforts in the areas of workplace issues; race, diversity and the battle against intolerance; and encouraging democracy and citizen participation. In addition to producing the Not In Our Town PBS series and national anti-hate campaign, TWG is the largest distributor of workplace media in the country, producing the award-winning public television series We Do the Work and Livelyhood. Our PBS documentary Test of Courage: The Making of a Firefighter follows a diverse group of aspiring firefighters navigating the cultural divides to learn to live together and meet the intense daily pressures of saving lives.


Patrice O'Neill, executive producer of The Working Group.
Co-founder of The Working Group, Patrice O'Neill has produced successful national series on PBS for fifteen years. The Working Group's 1995 story of how the town of Billings, Montana, responded to a rash of hate crimes, Not In Our Town set a new standard for television impact. What began as a half-hour PBS special has turned into a national movement. In collaboration with the Independent Media Institute and Benton Foundation, O'Neill led an unprecedented outreach campaign featuring screenings and town hall meetings in hundreds of communities nation-wide. The resulting grassroots campaign against hate and intolerance gained the endorsement of city councils, schools, churches, legislatures, labor unions, and civic organizations across the country and it continued with a second television special, Not In Our Town II. The Not In Our Town campaign continues in communities around the country to this day. In 2005, TWG partnered with KQED-TV to produce the first-ever regional Not In Our Town Special, Not In Our Town Northern California: When Hate Happens Here. A new national Not In Our Town special is planned for 2006.

O'Neill's The Fire Next Time follows a deeply divided group of Montana citizens caught in a web of conflict over growth, the environment and the power of talk radio. This ITVS production was broadcast on the PBS series POV in 2005.

The Working Group's public television series We Do The Work and Livelyhood, created and produced by O'Neill, have brought work-related issues to the public in a style called "a stroke of television genius" by the San Francisco Examiner and an "off-beat and uplifting series...with uncommon humor and grace" by the Wall Street Journal. O'Neill executive produced Kyung Sun Yu and Gary Mercer's ITVS production Test Of Courage: The Making of a Firefighter on the Oakland Fire Department.

Before launching The Working Group in 1988, O'Neill was a freelance television producer, with credits including KQED's "Express" and KRON's "Weekend Extra." O'Neill continued her documentary work with a series on farmworker issues including "Voices From the Edge of the Dream" and a profile of the dramatic 1984 copper mining strike in Arizona, "High Stakes in Morenci."

A co-founder of The Working Group, Rhian Miller is producer of Not In Our Town and Not In Our Town II: Citizens Respond to Hate. Together with executive producer Patrice O'Neill, Miller has led the company's NIOT campaigns which have accompanied the PBS broadcasts of each program and continue today. She is a producer on The Working Group's 2005 co-production with KQED, Not In Our Town Northern California: When Hate Happens Here.

Director of Photography Blake McHugh (left) and Not In Our Town Host Will Durst (right), back row, with Senior Producer Rhian Miller (left) and Executive Producer Patrice O'Neill (right), bottom row, on location in Billings, Montana.
Miller helped lead a delegation to the Czech Republic at the invitation of the United States Ambassador in 2000. Screenings of Not In Our Town for civic leaders, university and high school students were followed by lively discussions informed by issues such as the history of oppression and current conflicts concerning the Roma population. These public forums, and interviews with Czech citizens launching their own efforts to promote tolerance, were documented by The Working Group for future programs.

As senior producer for The Working Group, Miller has produced many of the company's award-winning programs, including titles from the series Livelyhood and We Do the Work. Miller and O'Neill's work has garnered several CINE Golden Eagles, gold and silver plaques from the Chicago International Television Festival, Gold and Silver Apples from the National Educational Film Festival, and the National Education Association's Learning Through Broadcast Award.

Before joining The Working Group, Miller directed the award-winning film "Strikestory," about the 1934 San Francisco General Strike, and edited the internationally acclaimed independent feature "Shuttlecock."

Director of Photography Gary Mercer, left, and Producer Kelly Whalen, right, on location in St. Cloud, Minnesota, for Livelyhood.
Kelly Whalen started her journalism career at The Working Group when she joined the company in 1996. She was a producer of Livelyhood, Not In Our Town Northern California: When Hate Happens Here, and a co-producer of The Fire Next Time. Her work has also been featured on MSNBC, TechTV and the statewide public television series "California Connected." She received a master's degree in Journalism from U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism.


Brian Dentz was pulled into the orbit of the Working Group in early 2002 to help on The Fire Next Time as a camera person, production manager and boom operator. Brian comes from a background working on New York indy films and as a newspaper journalist for papers in Manhattan and Mississippi. As of late, when he's not fly fishing in the Catskills or drinking Morrir Sonandos in Brooklyn, NY, his home turf, he is working as a camera person and producer on TV documentaries and news.

Humorist Will Durst (right) with Hal Rosenthal (left), featured in the Livelyhood episode "Shift Change."
Will Durst has hosted the Working Group series Not In Our Town, Livelyhood, and We Do The Work. Durst has been called "a modern day Will Rogers" by the L.A. Times, "heir apparent to Mort Sahl and Dick Gregory" by The San Francisco Chronicle, a "hysterical hybrid of Hunter Thompson and Charles Osgood" by The Chicago Tribune, and "the dark Prince of doubt" by The Washington Post. Durst writes a daily Internet column, was a contributing editor to both National Lampoon and George magazines and continues to pen frequent contributions to various periodicals such as The New York Times and his hometown San Francisco Chronicle. This five-time Emmy nominee is also a regular commentator on NPR and CNN. His participation in the NIOT campaign has helped bring media attention to the issue of communities combating hate violence. Will Durst's performances are made possible by the First Amendment.

Bob Laird has been a writer, producer and editor for 25 years, and has contributed his work to over thirty documentaries and television specials with The Working Group since 1988. Laird co-produced and edited the Eddie Izzard comedy special "Dressed To Kill," which won an Emmy for HBO, and was video editor for the Academy Award-winning documentary "In the Shadow of the Stars." An expert online editor, he was involved in the development of the Final Cut Pro editing system. Laird is a veteran in the field of television commercial and corporate videos, and is founder and partner in Flickerbox Inc. a computer design and implementation firm specializing in video production, editing, corporate presentations, and web design.

Blake McHugh has been principal photographer on all Not In Our Town projects, as well as being director of photography for The Fire Next Time. He also shared director of photography credits on The Working Group's Livelyhood series. McHugh was also director of photography for "Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life On Earth," the PBS series on microbiology. He is a contributing photographer for "60 Minutes," "60 Minutes II," "Dateline," "Good Morning America," and various Travel Channel and Discovery Channel documentaries.

Director of Photography Gary Mercer on location for Livelyhood.
After fifteen years of shooting news and documentaries at KRON/NBC San Francisco, Mercer established his own business as a director of photography, camera operator and producer. He was principal photographer on TWG's Livelyhood series, and with Kyung Sun Yu, he produced and was director of photography for Test of Courage: The Making of a Firefighter, which aired nationally on PBS in September 2000. Other credits include "Dateline NBC," "Life 360," "National Geographic International," and the PBS documentaries "Searching for Asian America" and "Rising Waters: Global Warming and the Fate of the Pacific Islands." Awards for his work include the Edward R. Murrow Award for Reporting from the Radio and Television News Directors Association, the National Press Photographers National Award for feature photography, and three Emmys.

Linda Peckham is The Working Group's video editor and post production supervisor. During her decade with the company, Linda has participated in the flourishing of TWG's programming, from the initial We Do The Work series, to Not In Our Town and Livelyhood. She started out on VHS, and is now fully non-linear with a left hand that knows what her right hand is doing. She served as editor on KQED's award-winning series, "Green Means." Peckham has worked as an editor and research assistant with award-winning independent filmmakers Trinh T. Minh-ha, Leslie Thornton, and Jim Culp. She has written about media and cultural politics for the AFI Readers series, Discourse, and Motion Picture.

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The Working Group
PO Box 70232, Oakland CA 94612-0232
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