NAACP Decries Lack of African American Stars on Networks

Jun 12, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The lack of African American actors starring in upcoming sitcoms on the four major broadcast networks prompted the NAACP civil rights group to tell television executives that efforts to diversify the industry appear to be slipping.

“The lack of African American leads in sitcoms is unconscionable,” Bruce S. Gordon, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Monday in a statement.

Gordon is scheduling meetings with network executives to discuss the situation, he said.

“This is historically where many African American actors, directors, writers and show runners have honed their artistic skills and found meaningful employment,” Gordon said.

African American actors do have significant roles in network drama series. Although employment numbers for actors, directors and writers on staff for the 2006 fall season will not be available until at least November, the announced fall comedy lineup iscause for concern, Mr. Gordon said.

Fox’s cancellation of “The Bernie Mac Show” means there is not a comedy with an African American lead character on the four major broadcast networks. Among dramas, all the broadcast networks have successful series that boast multiethnic casts.

In 1999, when the NAACP launched its diversity initiative in Hollywood, there were seven African American show runners. In 2005 there were 13 African American show runners. It is anticipated that in 2006 there will be eight, with the reduction due in large part to the dissolution of UPN and the WB to form The CW.

This season, UPN had two nights of comedies with sizeable African American casts and producers. The CW has scheduled only one night with predominantly African American staffs for its upcoming fall schedule