For years, CBS has drawn criticism about the lack of diversity in the lead casts of on its scripted series. At a previous TCA, a critic griped that on Extant, a rare CBS series with a minority lead (movie star Halle Berry), she was surrounded by a white cast including a white husband, and even her robot child was made Caucasian.
In his first TCA, new CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller fielded similar questions. The openly gay executive used himself as an example.
“I’m diverse, I fall into the LBGT category. I’m just a gay guy from Indiana who doesn’t play basketball,” Geller said. “I mentioned my husband earlier, because I want to normalize my diversity. CBS will always reflect what American looks like.”
Still, Geller was further pressed about the lack of diverse leads on CBS series.
“We’re not casting color blind, we are casting color conscious,” Geller said. “It’s the right roles for diversity.” He touted upcoming shows Rush Hour and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders for having “two of the most diverse casts.”
Additionally, the network’s Nancy Drew series, which is heating up for a pilot order, is planned with a diverse actress in the title role.
Geller also showed support of reality and expresses high expectations for the upcoming straight-to-series Hunted, based on an UK format.
“I’m a big fan of reality… and I think we found the first reality hit, it’s called Hunted,” Geller said. “It was my first buy.” The series features teams of two regular people who go on the run, hunted by real-life law enforcement enforcers with the goal to avoid capture for 28 days in order to win $100,000. “This brings a procedural element into the reality space,” Geller said.
Geller also was asked about the pending departure of longtime NCIS co-star Michael Weatherly. As of now, there are no plans to bring NCIS alumna Cote de Pablo, who played his on-screen love interest, to exit him out, he said.