March 25, 2015

Deadline Hollywood on TV casting

An article on casting in TV is generating a lot of controversy:

Pilots 2015: The Year Of Ethnic Castings

By Nellie AndreevaThere was a noticeable shift toward minority castings last season, with more parts opening up to ethnic actors, a casting term used for non-Caucasian thesps. It was a concerted effort, with more than one instance where a family member role was rewritten as adopted to make them ethnic. Then, following the success of freshman series How To Get Away With Murder, Black-ish, Fresh Off The Boat, Jane the Virgin and especially Empire, which launched to huge ratings at the kickoff of pilot casting season, ethnic castings exploded this season.

The change is welcomed by talent agents who no longer have to call casting directors and ask them if they would possibly consider an ethnic actor for a part, knowing they would most likely be rejected. “I feel that the tide has turned,” one agent said. “I can pitch any actor for any role, and I think that’s good.”
It started off fine, but then veered into troubling waters with these paragraphs:This is not to say that there weren’t other hot commodities this pilot season—star names were in demand as usual, as were hot young guys and girls and occasional foreigners with that “sparkle.” But the big trend this pilot casting season was the huge spike in the number and prominence of roles that went to minority actors.

But, as is the case with any sea change, some suggest that the pendulum might have swung a bit too far in the opposite direction. Instead of opening the field for actors of any race to compete for any role in a color-blind manner, there has been a significant number of parts designated as ethnic this year, making them off-limits for Caucasian actors, some agents signal. Many pilot characters this year were listed as open to all ethnicities, but when reps would call to inquire about an actor submission, they frequently have been told that only non-Caucasian actors would be considered. “Basically 50% of the roles in a pilot have to be ethnic, and the mandate goes all the way down to guest parts,” one talent representative said.

But replacing one set of rigid rules with another by imposing a quota of ethnic talent on each show may not be the answer.
Critics destroy Deadline

You can see the original headline, which was more specific and reflected the content better, above. In any case, critics quickly ripped Andreeva's piece:

TV networks have gone way overboard with this diversity stuff, Deadline says

By Joshua AlstonLast night, the Hollywood trade publication Deadline convened a small group of concerned Studio City citizens to nibble on finger sandwiches, crudites, and ambrosia salad and have a frank discussion about the…*ahem*...changes in the neighborhood. Y’know, how of the television landscape has shifted in recent months. Okay fine, if we have to come out and say it, Hollywood is unsettled by the influx of “ethnic actors” on television. But it’s not about prejudice or anything like that. People are justifiably concerned about property values!

That’s more or less the thesis of Nellie Andreeva’s trend piece, Pilots 2015: The Year Of Ethnic Castings—About Time Or Too Much Of A Good Thing?, which is a reasonable headline since the clicks aren’t going to bait themselves. Andreeva discusses the television season’s triumphs of diversity—Empire, Black-ish, Fresh Off The Boat, and How To Get Away With Murder—which alerted the television industry to the existence of minority actors and inspired network executives to hire more of them to star in 2015 pilots. (In case it’s unclear, the word “more” is intended to be read in the tone of Mr. Bumble from Oliver!) The scourge of non-white actors has become so severe, Andreeva writes, white actors are being crowded out of the field on which they’ve had a chokehold since the advent of television.
Hey, white Hollywood: Looking for work in the age of “Empire”? Here’s some friendly advice

The "ethnics" are invading TV!! What's a struggling white actor to do?!

By Arthur Chu
In every happy story there is always an unseen victim, someone who gets rained on by everyone else’s silver lining. You might think that the news for primetime TV in 2015 can only be good–audiences are celebrating the wave of smart programming with diverse ensembles both in front of and behind the camera.

And far from having to make some virtuous financial sacrifice at the altar of diversity, the network suits are cleaning up. Over-the-air primetime TV has never felt more vibrant or relevant, even as “alternative” streaming platforms continue to thrive. “Empire” has shattered records and reclaimed the eyeballs of the Twitter commentariat from “prestige” cable channels.

Critics are happy. Advertisers are happy. Viewers are happy. The cast and crew and showrunners and suits and stockholders are all happy.

But here comes Deadline, telling us who’s being victimized by all this: White actors. Hardworking white actors without star power who now have to compete for an ever-shrinking number of audition slots as more and more roles are designated “ethnic,” a term Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva uses so often it starts to not sound like a word anymore.
“Ethnic” actors aren’t stealing white roles: The racist, clueless backlash to TV’s greatest season begins

Nostalgic for the good ol' TV days of "Friends" and "Seinfeld," insiders are whining about "unfair" "ethnic quotas"

By Sonia Saraiya
Most alarming is Andreeva’s reductive implication that more roles for “ethnic” actors isn’t “fair” to white actors. Agents and casting directors that have long benefited from the incredible, overwhelming whiteness of Hollywood casting insert sly comments in her piece lamenting unfairness—if roles can’t be designated white (which they usually are, still, despite the existence of “Empire” and “Black-ish” and “Scandal,” because there is a lot of television in Hollywood) then shouldn’t we be “fair” and make them colorblind? I mean, if we’re going to be fair, and promote diversity, then shouldn’t we not ask about race at all?Dear Nellie Andreeva and Deadline, About Your Piece on Too Much “Ethnic Casting” on TV

By LuvvieWait. Wayment. Wait a gahtdamb minute. You’re pointing out that because people of color are getting roles, white actors are starting to suffer. Jehovah, hold my mule and be a fence because what I am NOT able to do is deal with this. This rash idea that because we got ONE MEASLY SEASON where TV isn’t whiter than fresh snow, then white actors are somehow being unfairly excluded from roles. WHAT ABOUT BLACK ACTORS WHO HAVE BEEN FIGHTING FOR PARTS SINCE FOREVER? AND LATIN@S WHO ONLY GET “SPICY” ROLES? AND ASIANS WHO CAN ONLY PLAY THE NERD? AND EVERYBODY WHO ISN’T WHITE?? Are you serious? You cannot be. You cannot think that it’s even a wonder that should be wondered.“HELL NO”: Shonda Rhimes and others destroy Deadline’s ridiculous “Ethnic Casting” backlash story

People are rightfully angry at writer Nellie Andreevna's notion that minorities are stealing white actors' roles

By Anna Silman
shonda rhimes @shondarhimes
1st Reaction:: HELL NO. Lemme take off my earrings, somebody hold my purse!
2nd Reaction: Article is so ignorant I can't even be bothered.

Nichole @tnwhiskeywoman
We still have so far to go to see underrepresented cultures on screen & @Deadline is like "these last 3-5 years should be enough, right?"

Dave Itzkoff @ditzkoff
Just astounding that something so tone deaf could be published in 2015 by a supposedly credible news source.

Matt Wallace @MattFnWallace
.@Deadline You are literally creating the problem when you label TV a white person's medium and suggest non-whites are a trend.

Farhad Manjoo @fmanjoo
Has the pendulum swung too far in the direction of TV representing the world how it actually is???!!!!
Comment:  For more on the subject, see TV Starts to Reflect America and White Males Still Dominate Hollywood.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Deadline’s apology for their ridiculous “ethnic castings” piece is pretty weak

By Anna Silman

Considering how much uproar the piece ignited, the apology is pretty weak, with co-editor in chief Mike Fleming Jr. seeming to place a lot of blame on the headline, which “created a context from which no article could recover.” As he put it: “My co-editor-in-chief Nellie Andreeva’s goal was to convey that there was such an uptick of TV pilot casting of people of color that it pinched white actors who’ve historically gotten most of the jobs, and to question if this could last if it was being treated as a fad. All this was undermined by that headline (which we changed after the fact) and a repetition of the word “ethnic” that came off cold and insensitive.”

The lame excuses continued, zooming in on the use of the word ethnic and the editors’ failure to respond to criticism in a timely manner (when arguably the piece just shouldn’t have been published to begin with).