After months of public criticism for CBS’ lack of diversity on and off screen, two of the network’s top programming executives finally offered an honest account as to why they’ve struggled so much with respect to actors of color and shows starring women.
Just kidding! According to CBS execs, they’re doing great and the fact that none of their new shows have a female lead is just a coincidence!
Women-centered shows are in short supply across primetime, as IndieWire notes, but CBS’ slate is particularly notable for its absence of women. For the second year in a row, the network has failed to put out a new series starring a female lead.
But according to CBS, it’s all fine.
Vice president of CBS Entertainment Thom Sherman, responded to a question from a reporter at the Television Critics’ Association on Tuesday about the network’s new slate of 2017 shows—all of which feature male leads.
“We had six pilots with female leads and the way things turned out those pilots were not deemed to be as good as the pilots that were picked up,” Sherman said.
Sherman and CBS Entertainment president, Kelly Kahl also addressed the salary controversy surrounding Hawaii Five-0, which saw Asian stars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park depart amid rumors they were being paid less than their white co-stars. Kahl maintained that the network made “very, very strong attempts to keep them and offered them a lot of money to stick around.”
The two men also defended their casting department, which is comprised entirely of white casting directors.
“I personally don’t think that has anything to do with it,” Kahl told reporters, according to Variety, asserting that the team had “cast many diverse roles in the past.”
It went on like that. From Variety:
“We can debate the pace of the change, but there is change happening at CBS,” Kahl said, noting an overall uptick in diverse series regulars in recent years. “Every single drama on our air has at least one diverse regular character.”
SKKRRRRT. Can someone tell Kahl (and more than a few other Hollywood execs) how the word “diverse” works? They’re out here using it as if it applies to singular characters. Look! This show has a bunch of white guys, but we have a diverse as the sidekick! You know what happens when you get a bunch of diverses together? A diversity!
Meanwhile, we can look forward to a new show on CBS starring Jeremy Piven. Bless.