CBS has addressed the ongoing conversation about diversity on TV by introducing eight new shows to its 2017-2018 schedule that are led by men who are majority white. Moonves used the event to boast of CBS' lineup heading into the 2017-2018 season.
Moonves was pressed by a reporter Wednesday during a Q&A session about the lack of female leads in new fall shows.
"Well, number one, more women watch CBS, percentage-wise, than any other network, so our shows have a lot of female appeal", Moonves replied.
So far, a lot of the winning pilots have been based around white men.
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.
Moore is the only actor of color in that group. Compared to previous year, when CBS had no actors of color in lead roles among freshman shows in its fall lineup, the Eye has also added the comedy "Superior Donuts", starring African-American comedian Jermaine Fowler.
"I know they're not leads, but 11 are diverse and that is our commitment to diversity and those just aren't words". Other shows that continue to air in the fall are Mom and Madam Secretary, both starring women. NBC plans to bring back "Will & Grace" and a "Homeland"-adjacent drama, ABC brings a new Shondaland series and a comedy about a young rapper, and Fox adds a Craig-Robinson-led comedy and an Angela-Bassett-led drama from Ryan Murphy". CEO Leslie Moonves met with reporters and was asked to defend his network's very male-leaning new programming.
"Out of all our divisions, it's safe to say that no one has been busier than my colleagues at CBS News", Moonves said at the company's upfront presentation to advertisers held at New York's Carnegie Hall. "I don't think we've ever had to apologize for having Madam Secretary and Lucy Liu and [CBS All Access digital series] The Good Fight and [the since-canceled] The Good Wife and I think we do fine in that area".
"I don't think that's the case".
As CBS unveils its new fall lineup, the Eye is facing renewed scrutiny of its track record on diversity in front of and behind the camera.