CBS is putting in the work to be more inclusive behind the scenes as well.
The network announced Monday that it’s committing 25% of its script development budget to projects from creators, writers and producers who are black, indigenous or people of color, beginning with the 2021-22 development season.
Writers rooms must also be staffed by 40% non-white employees during the 2021-22 season, then 50% for the 2022-23 season.
“While steady progress has been made in recent years both in front of and behind the camera, change needs to happen faster, especially with creators and leadership roles on the shows,” George Cheeks, President and Chief Executive Officer for the CBS Entertainment Group, said in a statement.
“As a network with ambitions to be a unifier and an agent of change at this important time, these new initiatives will help accelerate efforts to broaden our storytelling and make CBS programming even more diverse and inclusive.”
The announcement comes amid criticism of racial makeup on broadcast TV, both in front of the camera and behind it.
The most recent report from Color of Change Hollywood, released in October 2017, found that more than 90% of showrunners on traditional networks and streaming services are white. Two-thirds of shows had no black writers at all and 17% had only one black writer.
Among those, CBS and The CW were specifically labeled as having a “black problem.”
But CBS has a more promising outlook in 2020, with Aaron Rahsaan Thomas as showrunner of “S.W.A.T.” and Dee Harris-Lawrence taking over as showrunner on “All Rise.” Jenny Lumet is also co-writing the pilot of “Clarice” alongside Alex Kurtzman and Gina Yashere created “Bob Hearts Abishola” with Chuck Lorre.
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