CBS President Defends All-Male, Mostly-White Fall Lineup

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CBS is the most-watched network on television.

But some folks out there are growing increasingly concerned about just what viewers are watching on The Eye these days.

Or, to be more specific, about just WHO viewers are watching.

cbs guys

For the second year in a row, CBS presented a group of new shows at its Upfront Presentation in New York City this week that was lacking in two departments:

1. Diversity.

2. Boobs.

Indeed, there are six new dramas and sitcoms on the network's 2017-2018 schedule and five are led by a white male, while the sixth is led by an African-American male.

The new programs and their top-billed stars are:

  • SEAL Team, David Boreanaz
  •  S.W.A.T., Shemar Moore
  • Wisdom of the Crowd, Jeremy Piven
  • 9JKL, Mark Feuerstein
  • Me, Myself & I, Bobby Moynihan 
  • Young Sheldon, Iain Armitage

What the heck, CBS? Where's the diversity?!?

David Boreanaz on CBS

On Wednesday morning, a reporter asked CBS President Les Moonves whether it was really a sound strategy to not have a single female lead among his new crop of programs.

“We saw this with you guys last year,” the reporter asked, adding:

“Are you concerned, particularly in a medium like television where women watch more than men, that you have such a male-centered [lineup]?”

It's true.

These were the faces at the forefront of CBS' new shows a year ago:

cbs fellas

Replied Moonves:

“Well, number one, more women watch CBS, percentage-wise, than any other network, so our shows have a lot of female appeal.

"I don’t think we’ve ever had to apologize for having Madam Secretary and Lucy Liu [on Elementary], and The Good Fight [on CBS All Access] and The Good Wife.

"We do a number of pilots, a lot of them have women in starring roles. There are a lot of women on the schedule. The best pilots win at the end of the day.

"And we think our track record is okay.”

As we said, CBS is the most-watched network on television.

So this issue begs the question of whether it has a social responsibility to be more diverse...

... or whether the viewing public should shoulder some blame because, hey, they're the ones tuning in to CBS in droves. What's a network to do when it's obviously fulfilling its goals of putting appealing shows on the air?

Jeremy Piven for CBS

But this reporter pressed on.

"We’re at this point in the industry — FX, for example, is trying to make sure half its directors are female. It seems like you guys might be facing in the wrong direction?” she asked.

“I don’t think that’s the case," Moonves shot back.

He then elaborated as follows:

"Let me put on my CEO hat for a second because I’m not the president of entertainment. When I look at the totality of what CBS is, I look at news, I look at daytime, I look at sports, I look at Showtime, I look at The CW.

"And when you look at the totality of that, I think we’re fine in terms of the amount of women who are behind the camera and in front of the camera. I think we’re doing a very good job.

"I don’t think we’re looking in the wrong direction, on the contrary."

Bobby Moynihan for CBS

What do you think of this controversy?

Is it much ado about nothing?

Does a television network have a social responsibility of some kind? Or do they actually have a responsibility to shareholders, which means they should only focus on programs that are popular... and no network does a better job of that than CBS.

Tough questions.


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