TV SUMMER TOUR ’14 Is CBS Missing TV’s Diversity Trend?

By   |   July 31, 2014   |   Entertainment

One of the great things about the upcoming Fall TV schedule is its commitment to diverse programming. From ABC’s Black-ish and Fox’s Gotham to The CW’s Jane the Virgin and The Flash, it seems like showrunners and network executives are dedicated to creating a TV landscape that reflects our multicultural one. But is CBS, the most-watched network, trailing behind?

That’s the question Chairman of CBS Entertainment Nina Tassler tackled at the network’s executive panel earlier this month. She confessed, “we’re not doing it a fair service” when it comes to the network’s comedies, and their producers and writers behind the scenes.

However, Nina did feel the network showcases its fair share of diversity, “from sunup to sundown, across the entire schedule,” pointing out its hit daytime series The Talk, which features Aisha Tyler, Sheryl Underwood and Julie Chen, as well as dramatic leads Halle Berry in Extant, Lucy Liu in Elementary and Maggie Q, who launches Stalker this fall.

Still, Nina — who is of Latina descent — made it clear that the network always has more diversity as a goal. “We don’t come out of the launch of any new show to say, ‘you know, great, we’re good, we’ve hit our quotas, we’re good, we’re happy.’ We always look to add more diverse characters to shows if we feel we haven’t delivered as best as we would like to.”

She added, “It is a goal of ours, it is a part of the conversation, not just in front of the camera but behind the camera, in the writers’ room and in the director’s program [to have] employees bringing in new voices to work at the network. So, in front of the camera, behind the camera, adding to existing shows, continuing to reach deep into the development of community and recruit new voices … It’s always a conversation.”

That especially applies to its comedy slate, which hasn’t had an African-American female lead since Wanda Sykes starred in New Adventures of Old Christine, which ended in 2010. “If we don’t get the level of diversity we’re happy with going into the fall, we look for every opportunity through the course of the entire year to add it,” Nina shared.

“We have Dovekeepers in 2015, we have Cote de Pablo who is starring in one of the leads of the show. That was an opportunity for us to say, look, we didn’t get the level of diversity in some of the fall shows, but let’s make a big statement and cast Cote in our event series.”

We applaud CBS for making sure its dramas reflect our diverse nation. But we want to laugh at ourselves too!

photo credit: CBS

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