CBS Boss on Network's Lack of Diversity: "We Need to Do Better"

Glen Geller fielded reporters' burning questions at the 2016 Summer TCA Press Tour on Wednesday

By Chris Harnick Aug 10, 2016 5:00 PMTags
Man With a Plan, Matt LeBlancCBS

CBS has a diversity issue and they know it. CBS boss Glenn Geller took the stage at the 2016 TCA Summer Press Tour and answered questions about the show's lack of diversity, both in front of and behind the camera.

"I'm really glad this question came up first because we're very mindful at CBS of the importance of diversity and inclusion," Geller told press when asked about the show's lack of LGBT and people of color leads on several of their new shows. "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."

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Geller pointed to the diversity of the network's ensembles, diverse directors on programs such as The Odd Couple and Madam Secretary, programs like CBS Diversity Institute and CBS on Tour, but noted they must do better. "I understand we need to better with leads," he said. He touted the historic casting of Laverne Cox in Doubt, the transgender actress is playing the first transgender series regular role on network television. But still, the diversity is in the ensemble, not the leads.

"I wouldn't call them supporting players. They're series regulars who have major roles on the show," Geller said. "That's why they're series regulars."

In a smaller group of reporters, Geller was asked if CBS would be willing to make a specific commitment to increase diversity in lead roles.

"I really respect the question, I do. I'm not sure how to answer that because our goal is always to try and get more diverse. That is our goal. We did not meet that goal this year in terms of leads," he said. "We are down year to year. But overall, we are more diverse this year. And that's the trend and that's where I want to take the network."

Another hot topic for CBS has consistently been the network's problems with sexism and racism among Big Brother contestants. "It is a social experiment, and they do the best they can to look into people's backgrounds and see who these people really are," he said. "When you put people together, they become who they are, regardless of the cameras…but that's what the show is about, it's an entertainment show. It's a social experiment and I think we see that every summer."

Be sure to check back with E! News for more from CBS TCA.

Watch: Laverne Cox Talks Making History on "Doubt"
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