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Nets plan for NAACP event

Moonves to rep CBS

The networks scrambled Tuesday to determine who would represent each of them at an NAACP public hearing scheduled for next week.

The Monday event will discuss the civil rights group’s ongoing TV diversity initiative.

Among those leading the roundtable, scheduled for 10 a.m. on Nov. 29 at the Century Plaza Hotel, are NAACP president and CEO Kweisi Mfume, assistant general counsel Debbie Liu, and communications director John White.

In an address earlier this month, Mfume said the hearing would be held “to ascertain the extent to which continued segregation of opportunity impacts the livelihood of qualified men and women.

“It will be our desire to take testimony from industry insiders, actors, network executives, talent agencies, writers, directors, grass-roots leaders on this issue and representatives of the respective guilds,” he said.

As of midday Tuesday ABC, NBC and Fox were still debating whether to send their heavy-hitters to the event. Only CBS Television president and CEO Leslie Moonves had confirmed late Tuesday.

The NAACP also extended invites to various actors, writers and directors, but few had responded as of Tuesday.

Mfume shook the TV industry this summer when he criticized the networks for creating a “virtual whitewash” in primetime. The group noted that none of the four major networks’ new series included a minority character in a lead role.

At the time Mfume said the NAACP would consider boycotting one or more of the networks if its concerns weren’t addressed.

Since then, Mfume has met with execs at ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. The group called off a boycott for this November, but instead announced it would boycott one of the major networks for two months beginning Jan. 1, “with a particular effort to affect the [February] sweeps.”

For their part, the networks scrambled in the weeks before the fall launches to add more minority characters to series that had been criticized as too white.

NAACP representatives did not return calls regarding the event.

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