CBS is being once again called out for a lack of diversity in its programming after critics noted the network’s fall television lineup is composed nearly entirely of male characters in lead roles.
CEO Les Moonves was forced to defend the network’s fall lineup to reporters ahead of its upfront presentation Wednesday, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“The best pilots went at the end of the day and we think our track record is OK,” Moonves told reporters. “We do a number of pilots, a lot of them have women in starring roles. There are a lot of women in the schedule, in this new schedule.”
“More women watch CBS percentage-wise than any other network so our shows have a lot of female appeal,” Moonves continued. “I don’t think we’ve ever had to apologize for having Madam Secretary and Lucy Liu and The Good Fight and The Good Wife and I think we do fine in that area.”
The network came under fire after it picked up seven new shows, most of which featured male lead actors.
The new shows include: By the Book, starring Jay R. Ferguson; Me, Myself and I, starring Bobby Moynihan; Instinct, starring Alan Cumming; Young Sheldon, starring youngster Iain Armitage; SEAL Team starring David Boreanaz; Wisdom of the Crowd, starring Jeremy Piven; SWAT, starring Shemar Moore and Jay Harrington; and 9JKL, starring Mark Feuerstein.
Moonves said that when he looks across the board at the CBS Corporation, he is “fine” with the amount of women included on and off-camera.
“When I look at the totality of who CBS is, I look at news, I look at daytime, I look at sports, I look at Showtime, I look at The CW — they’re all part of our family — 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, in front of the camera,” Moonves said. “I think we’re doing a very good job and I don’t think we’re looking in the wrong direction. On the contrary.”
The network has been called out in the past for what critics have called a lack of diversity in its television slates. Just last year, CBS was criticized for not featuring enough gay, lesbian or African-American characters in its programs.
At the time, CBS’ top executive Glenn Geller, who suffered a heart attack and has since been recovering, conceded that the network had to “do better.”
“I’m really glad this question came up first because we’re very mindful at CBS of the importance of diversity and inclusion,” Geller said at the time. “We need to do better and we know it. That’s really it, we need to do better. In terms of leads we are definitely less diverse this year than last year, and like I said we need to do better.”
Unlike Moonves, Geller said his ultimate goal for CBS was diversity, saying “I’m not sure how to answer that because our goal is always to try and get more diverse. That is our goal.”
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.