Did you know that New York City is just about the most ethnically diverse metropolis on the planet, with the fine borough of Queens actually qualifying as the most diverse region?

Not if you run a TV network.

According to an Electronic Media survey of Big Apple-based prime-time series, the Naked City, as refracted through the likes of Friends and Will & Grace, is about as multicultural as Mayberry.

The TV industry trade publication found that fully 81.5 percent of the 130 regular characters on New York-centered shows last fall were white. (And that was without Seinfeld being on the air.) Another 15 percent were black; 3 percent, Hispanic.

Nothing more, lots less.

On the networks, there was no such thing as an Asian New Yorker, much less a Native American New Yorker or an immigrant from Guam.

For the record, real-life New York City is 52 percent white, 29 percent black, 24 percent Hispanic, 7 percent Asian and 0.3 percent Native American, according to 1990 census figures. (The total number exceeds 100 percent because Hispanics can be figured into other ethnic groups, as well.)

The prime-time survey, featured in the current issue of Electronic Media, comes in the wake of the NAACP calling the upcoming fall lineups of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox an "outrage"--and threatening to haul the Big Four into court if they don't do something about their programming "whitewash."

Of the 26 shows to debut on the major broadcasters starting in September, not one features a minority in a leading role--at least as they were described to advertisers last spring.

Appropriately, several of the mighty-white newbies, including ABC's much-anticipated twentysomething drama Wasteland, will take place in, yes, New York.

Last season there were no fewer than 21 series set in the big city--from NBC's Caroline in the City to ABC's NYPD Blue to CBS' King of Queens to the WB's Felicity. (Fox was the only network without a Manhattan-centric series.)

NBC had the most NYC-based characters (53)--and, next to UPN, the least number of NYC-based minority characters (four), the survey said. (In fairness to UPN, its shows only featured six overall New Yorkers, one of whom was a minority--a far better percentage than ABC, CBS or NBC.)

CBS and ABC depicted the most diverse versions of the Big Apple, with seven regular minority characters each.

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