Crusader for Girl Warriors

Nov 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Barbara Hall likes to rant.
She can rant about how the publishing industry doesn’t understand what kids will read. She can rant about why society scares girls away from studying math and science in school. And she can rant about why she doesn’t consider the strong female characters she has created-Joan from “Joan of Arcadia” and Amy from “Judging Amy”-to be role models.
“I don’t think of them as role models,” Ms. Hall said. “I’m in the entertainment industry. I think people find them entertaining. If they want to turn them into role models, I have no control over that because I can’t choose people’s icons for them.”
Ms. Hall has created two shows that are popular with women, but said she wasn’t targeting a female audience when she came up with the concepts for the shows.
“I don’t ever come at it from the point of view of demographics or audience, because my assumption is I am the audience,” she said. “What I do is create shows I want to see.”
Women are drawn to shows that they can identify with, Ms. Hall said.
“When women reject shows, it’s because it doesn’t look like their lives,” she said.
Ms. Hall said “Judging Amy,” about a juvenile court judge who is a single mother, was inspired by her own life.
“I’m a single woman with a kid who is just kicking my butt all over the place, but we’re kind of having fun and nobody’s a victim,” she said. “I have a job in a man’s world, and that’s kind of fun because as long as you play by the rules it’s fun. That was the theology behind `Judging Amy.’ I was so tired of seeing women as victims, because anybody who’s ever seen a man with a cold knows the truth.”
As for “Joan,” in which God appears to a teenage girl (Amber Tamblyn) and asks her to perform various tasks, Ms. Hall said the show combines two of her hobbies-physics and theology. She never considered making the lead character a teenage boy, she said. “Joan of Arc is my icon. As a kid, I was obsessed [with her],” she said. “I love the girl warrior archetype.”
Barbara Hall
Job title: Creator and executive producer of CBS drama “Joan of Arcadia” and consulting producer for CBS drama “Judging Amy”

Date of birth: July 17. She cops to being in her early 40s.
Place of birth: Chatham, Va.
Length of time in current gig: “Joan” was picked up for a full season. “Amy” is in its fourth season.
Why her? She has created two shows with strong central female characters who appeal to women. In fact, 71 percent of “Judging Amy’s” total audience during the first five weeks of this season was adult women, according to Nielsen Media Research figures provided by the ABC Network. That’s the highest adult female comp of any show in prime time.