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I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that diversity just isn't a priority for the people running CBS. That it's basically still a white man's world at that network, and they're not particularly worried about changing.
They make apologies. And promises. And excuses.
But when push comes to shove as it did on "Hawaii Five-0," a show CBS owns and airs all the apologies and promises turn out to be empty words.
CBS has been under scrutiny about its lack of diversity for several years. And I perhaps wrongly thought (and wrote) that the criticism was overly harsh.
That CBS didn't get the credit it deserved for the consistently diverse casting on reality shows like "Survivor" and "Amazing Race." That critics overlooked that the co-lead of "Elementary" is Asian American, and the co-lead of "Superior Donuts" is African American. That CBS tried and failed with shows that featured ethnic leads, like "Training Day" and "Rush Hour." That minority actors feature prominently in everything from "The Big Bang Theory" to "Criminal Minds," from the three "NCIS" shows to, ironically, "Hawaii Five-0." Albeit in supporting roles.
CBS' primary excuse for its lack of minority leads is that it develops those shows, but they don't pan out. So it picks up better shows, which just happen to have white, male leads.
Last fall, CBS debuted six new series all of which featured white, male leads. This fall, CBS will debut six new series five of which feature white, male leads.
When 92 percent of your fall shows over two years fall into that category, that's not a coincidence.
And the problem isn't just one of ethnicity. Only two of the 20 scripted series on CBS' fall schedule have female leads.
A year ago, then-CBS Entertainment president Glenn Gellar told members of the Television Critics Association, "We need to do better, and we know it." A year later, CBS has done worse.
Against this backdrop, CBS' refusal to give Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park pay equity with Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan on "Hawaii Five-0" is astonishing. It confirms the worst suspicions.
Clearly, Kim and Park had supporting roles, because that's the way the show was built. That should have been an issue when it debuted in 2010. I should have questioned it.
According to the U.S. Census, 57.4 percent of Hawaiians are of Asian heritage but the leads are both white guys?
CBS execs had a chance to make a statement about the importance of diversity. They blew it. Again.
I fear that because diversity in Hollywood is so often a black-white issue, CBS didn't see actors of Asian ancestry in the same light. And that's another level of insensitivity.
ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS' sister network, The CW, don't seem to have any problem making their shows diverse. That CBS struggles so mightily sends a message.
It's not the message CBS ought to be putting out there.
Scott D. Pierce covers TV for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.