You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

NAACP: Eye talks, trio walks

Web exex ankle hearing

ABC, NBC and Fox execs walked out of a NAACP hearing on minority representation in TV on Monday after the org shuffled their scheduled testimony to later in the day.

The three networks said their representatives were originally supposed to appear immediately after CBS Television CEO Leslie Moonves, the only network chief to RSVP.

Moonves took the floor following NAACP CEO Kweisi Mfume’s opening statements, but representatives from the other three webs were pushed back to early afternoon.

Testifying to a packed room of execs, actors, producers and officials from a wide variety of civil rights groups, Moonves stressed CBS’ roster of minority performers and newscasters. He also noted that 21.5% of CBS employees, but only 14.8% of execs, are minorities.

“We have much to be proud of in this regard,” Moonves said. “We also recognize that our record can be improved upon.”

The group of panelists posing questions, including Mfume, were clearly disappointed that Moonves was the only network topper to make an appearance. Mfume stressed that Moonves had cut short a trip to Rome in order to testify at the meeting.

“It speaks a mouthful about your network and says a lot about your competitors who are not here,” former congressman Esteban Torres told Moonves.

Top-tier priority

NAACP spokesman John White said the other networks would have had a chance to speak early in the day had they sent their heavy hitters.

“I am sure if people of equal stature at the other networks were here we would have had them sitting next to Leslie Moonves,” White said.

He added that he did change the schedule to accommodate the network execs, moving them up to before an afternoon break.

“Congressional hearings never run on time,” he noted.

Chris Hikawa, vice president of broadcast standards and practices at ABC, and Rosalyn Weinman, exec VP of broadcast content policy at NBC, said they had to catch flights back to the East Coast in the afternoon.

Roland McFarland, VP of broadcast standards and practices at Fox, and Donald Gadsden, senior VP of business affairs and music services administration at NBC, departed in solidarity with the other execs.

“We are disappointed that we were not allowed to make our statements in front of the NAACP,” Hikawa said.

ABC, NBC and Fox spokesmen said they were told late last week that their representatives had been scheduled to appear in the morning.

They also said they were told not to worry if the network chiefs couldn’t attend. ABC Television president Pat Fili-Krushel, for example, wasn’t able to make Monday’s session but is scheduled to meet with Mfume next week.

Boycott plan

The NAACP scheduled the public meeting to get an update on the state of minority hiring and diverse representation in television. Mfume reiterated that the org will probably announce by mid-December a boycott of one or more of the broadcast networks to commence in January.

“I expect for network television to take all of us very seriously in this matter,” Mfume said.

“They run the real risk of a sustained, focused and continuous consumer action in the form of repetitive boycotts, picketing and large-scale demonstrations in front of their network headquarters, the offices of network-owned affiliates nationwide and the headquarters of their major advertisers.”

Monday’s hearing was just one step in the NAACP’s ongoing campaign to investigate diversity in primetime and the hiring of minorities for executive positions and other jobs behind the camera.

“We’re not going to be like the circus, here today, gone next week, as long as I’m president and CEO of this organization,” Mfume said.

The four major nets were also sent a questionnaire by the NAACP earlier this month asking for raw employment and financial data related to the hiring of minorities. The network reps said those questionnaires would be returned by Dec. 20.

Torres said the NAACP would turn over its findings to the Justice Dept. and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which he said was considering whether to investigate the networks’ hiring practices.


Both Moonves and ABC’s Hikawa (in her prepared statement) said performance reviews of execs will be directly tied into their success in hiring minorities.

In exchange for increased vigilance on hiring minorities, Moonves asked the NAACP for its support in “championing free and universal over-the-air broadcasting.”

Besides Mfume and Torres, the NAACP panel was comprised of the org’s chief counsel, Dennis Hayes; assistant general counsel Debra Liu; Karen Narasaki, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium; and American Indians in Film’s Sonny Skylark.

More TV

  • Netflix's Lisa Nishimura Named Indie Film,

    Netflix's Lisa Nishimura Named Indie Film, Documentary Features Head

    In the wake of Bela Bajaria’s recent move to lead Netflix’s international non-English original TV series, the online streamer is shuffling its leadership team to more clearly distinguish between development of its English and non-English language content. As a result, Netflix has elevated Lisa Nishimura to vice president of independent film and documentary features, a [...]

  • Family Guy Bob's Burgers

    Fox Entertainment Lays Out Programming Slate in Post-Disney Merger Sizzle Reel (Watch)

    Fox Entertainment unveiled a new sizzle reel on Wednesday night in the wake of the Disney-21st Century Fox merger officially closing, with the broadcaster touting its current series roster. The video features both scripted and unscripted programming across Fox’s lineup. Among the shows featured are legacy series like “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” and “Empire.” In [...]

  • Katherine Heigl

    Katherine Heigl Cast as Lead in CBS Comedy Pilot

    Katherine Heigl has been cast as the female lead in the CBS comedy pilot “Our House,” Variety has learned. The show centers around a devoted mom (Heigl) and dad, who are committed to raising their children with the love and support the mom never got as a kid, but discover how difficult that is with her insane [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Lee Daniels

    Lee Daniels Reveals the 'Empire' Team's 'Anger' and 'Sadness' at the Jussie Smollett Fallout

    In a video posted to his Instagram Wednesday afternoon, “Empire” creator Lee Daniels has let everybody know how he feels about the Jussie Smollett “incident.” “These past couple of weeks have been a freakin’ rollercoaster,” Daniels said in the video. “Me and my cast have experienced pain, anger, sadness and frustration, and really don’t know [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    WGA Leaders to Meet With Showrunners on Agency Packaging Fight (EXCLUSIVE)

    WGA leaders are set to meet Wednesday night with a group of showrunners who are raising concerns about the guild’s handling of negotiations with talent agents over the issue of packaging fees and agency-affiliated productions. The meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. at WGA West headquarters. WGA West president David Goodman is expected to attend. [...]

  • 'This Is Us' Composer Siddhartha Khosla

    'This Is Us' Composer Siddhartha Khosla Signs With ASCAP

    Siddhartha Khosla, one of the busiest composers in TV with ongoing assignments for “This Is Us,” “The Kids Are Alright” and “Marvel’s Runaways,” has made the move to ASCAP, the performing-rights organization announced Wednesday. For all of his steady television gigs, “This is Us” remains by far the most prominent, partly because he provides prominent [...]

  • Kate Mulgrew

    TV News Roundup: Kate Mulgrew Among Three to Join 'Mr. Mercedes' Season 3

    In today’s roundup, TBS announces cast members for Nasim Pedrad’s upcoming pilot series “Chad” and “Mr. Mercedes” gets three recurring guest stars. CASTING TBS has announced the series regulars for its upcoming pilot “Chad,” created by “Saturday Night Live” alum Nasim Pedrad, who plays the titular 14-year-old Persian boy. Ella Mika portrays Chad’s younger sister Niki, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content