CBS executives were needled with numerous questions about diversity during a heated presentation at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour on Tuesday.
“CBS has been so successful with broad appeal, and we want to continue down that path,” senior executive vice president of programming Thom Sherman told reporters.
He pointed out that the network did develop female-led shows last year, although all six of the series picked up feature male leads, and five of those stars are white, with the exception being Shemar Moore on “S.W.A.T.”
“The way things turned out, those pilots were not felt to be as good as some of the other series that were picked up,” he said. “That’s just the cycle of business and how it happens sometimes.”
CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl said the network is “making progress” but acknowledged that channels such as FX are quicker to launch series that promote diversity in front of and behind the camera.
“I’m not sure I can speak to why it’s taking longer [for CBS],” he said.
Sherman was also asked why the CBS casting department is comprised only of white individuals.
“They’ve been together for a long time,” he said of the team. “We are cognizant of the issue, we hear you and we will be looking to expand the casting department.”