There’s a noticeable pattern on CBS’ fall schedule: The lead actors in each of the new shows ordered are white males.
The network’s new fall series include: “Bull,” starring Michael Weatherly; “Kevin Can Wait,” with Kevin James; “The Great Indoors,” with Joel McHale; “Man With a Plan,” starring Matt LeBlanc; “Pure Genius,” headlined by Augustus Prew and Dermot Mulroney; and “MacGyver,” which features Lucas Till and George Eads.
New entertainment president Glenn Geller defended the network’s lineup during a press conference with reporters. “Our new series are more diverse this year than last year,” he said, referring to the ensembles of shows like “Bull,” “Pure Genius” and “The Great Indoors.” He also pointed to another series that’s being held for midseason, “Doubt,” which features a female lead, Katherine Heigl, as well as transgender actress Laverne Cox (“Orange is the New Black”). “‘Doubt,’ I’m happy to say, is the first broadcast series to feature a transgender series regular,” he said. “I think that’s phenomenal.”
“Training Day,” which is being held for midseason, stars Justin Cornwell, who is black, opposite Bill Paxton. The series is based on the 2001 thriller starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke.
Geller also pointed to female-led series on the rest of the network’s lineup as offering balance. “We are the network that has ‘Madam Secretary’ and ‘Two Broke Girls’ and ‘Mom.’ We have lots of female leads, we have a great balance,” he said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”
“Code Black,” which is returning for a second season, features women and men of color in its ensemble cast including Marcia Gay Harden, Raza Jaffrey and Luis Guzman.
Geller denied reports that the pilot “Drew,” which starred Sarah Shahi, was rejected because it was too female. “That’s just not true,” he said. “We chose the best pilots.”
The CBS topper was previously pressed on the network’s lack of diversity earlier this year at the network’s Television Critics Association winter press tour panel, after reporters noted that the Eye had fewer diverse leads than its broadcast network rivals.
“We’re not casting color blind; we’re casting color-conscious — the right roles for diversity,” he said at the time. “That’s the kind of shows we’re putting on the air.”