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CBS gets roasted for lack of diversity on new shows, president says ‘we need to do better’

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — CBS’ entertainment president defended his network’s efforts to air more inclusive series even as it introduces a fall slate of new sitcoms and dramas with white malestars.

Glen Geller, fielding a barrage of diversity-related questions at a TV critics meeting Wednesday, repeatedly said the network must improve “and we know it.”

“In terms of leads, we’re definitely less diverse this year than last year, and we need to do better,” Geller said. But a number of actors of color are part of series ensembles, he said, and progress is being made in other areas.

“We also need to look behind the camera as well,” he said, with diversity at CBS to be found, for example, among more than half the directors on “Madam Secretary” and “The Odd Couple.”

Asked why the executive producers or “showrunners” on new CBS series are all white, Geller responded that the network “picked up the best shows from the pilots we made.”

CBS’ freshman shows, including an update of “MacGyver” and a show inspired by the early career of Phil McGraw, feature Michael Weatherly, Kevin James, Joel McHale and Dermot Mulroney among other white stars.

Minority characters are joining returning series. Among them: African-American actor Nelsan Ellis joining the cast of “Elementary,” Latino actor Wilmer Valderrama coming on board as an agent on “NCIS” and black actress-comedian Aisha Tyler becoming a series regular on “Criminal Minds.’”

 

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