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When CBS released their fall schedule and trailers for their new shows back in May, people were quick to point out one thing: the stars of many of the shows were white men. CBS Entertainment President Glenn Geller at the time defended the casting choices the network made, saying that “our new series are more diverse this year than last year.”
Geller also pointed out that the network had shows like Mom, Madam Secretary and 2 Broke Girls, which all featured female leads.
However, at CBS’ Television Critics Association panel on Aug. 10, Geller seems to have changed his tune about the network’s lack of diversity, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “We need to do better and we know it. That’s really it, we need to do better,” Geller said.
But while Geller was quick to say the network needs to do better, he was armed with examples of how the network was going to do better, by highlighting the upcoming show Doubt, who’s female lead is Katherine Heigl and also stars Orange is the New Black‘s Laverne Cox, who’s role on the show marks broadcast TV’s first transgender role played by a transgender actress.
Doubt is the only new female-led show on CBS’ schedule and will premiere in the midseason.
CBS also has Training Day – a show that features an African American male in the lead role, as Justin Cornwell is the main character and stars with Bill Paxton. Training Day is also premiering in the midseason.
Geller also highlighted some of the actors in supporting roles on the different shows are non-white actors and made sure that it was known that CBS is working on fixing their diversity problems by repeatedly emphasizing that the lack of diversity on the network was unacceptable.
The new shows coming to CBS include comedies starring Matt LeBlanc (Man With A Plan), Joel McHale (The Great Indoors) and Kevin James (Kevin Can Wait), whereas the dramas star Michael Weatherly (Bull), Dermot Mulroney (Pure Genius) and Lucas Till (MacGyver).
The return of questioning of CBS’ diversity comes days after FX announced at their TCA panel that it was actively working on fixing the diversity issues on the network. According to The Hollywood Reporter, at one point in time, 88 percent of FX’s directors were white men, which FX CEO John Landgraf was not pleased with. “I was dismayed to learn that the FX Networks were bringing up the rear rather than leading on this important issue.”
Landgraf says the number of white male directors is now down to 49 percent across the network. White women and non-white men each make up 22 percent of the directors and non-white women make up 7 percent of the directing jobs on the network.
FX clearly wants other networks to take notice of what it was able to do, with Landgraf saying “We hope the example of FX more than quadrupling our percentage of diverse and female directors in such a short time sends a message to our whole industry that it is well past time for change to happen — and that it is only a matter of rethinking our priorities and of putting in the collective effort for us to make it so.”