March 02, 2007

Networks get an "F"

American Indians in Film & TVAmerican Indians remain invisible in primetime TV. There was a combined average employment of 8,000 guest staring roles, 400 recurring roles and 1,000 regular roles cast by the four networks. It is appalling that only one recurring and two guest staring roles were filled by an American Indian. Fox Entertainment cast John Hensley as "Matt McNamara" on nip/tuck, Steve Reevis and Kalani Queypo guest stared on the Fox show "Bones". To quote Jerry Jacobsen of Fox, "American Indians have become a moving force in the economy and politics and we are aware of that. Our goal is for our products to reflect the world and we can't do that with out them". Jerry Jocobsen and the Fox team are beginning to have a progressive outlook that includes American Indians.

ABC, CBS, and NBC have failed to hire any American Indian actors.

After seven years all four networks have failed to hire any writers or directors that happen to be American Indian. The real change that needs to take place is in the hiring practices at the networks. It is obvious there is still an active Romantic Discrimination of the American Indian. This needs to change.
Comment:  Readers of Indian Comics Irregular know the situation is slightly better than reported here. In December 2005 (ICI #146), Graham Greene guest-starred in Numb3rs, an episode so stereotypical that it was December's Stereotype of the Month loser. In March 2006 (ICI #137), Gil Birmingham played Leonard Lobo on Veronica Mars, a role that recurred at least once. Also in March 2006, several Indians appeared on Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Also, what about TV commercials? Do the guys who played Zagar or the Indians in the Virgin Trains ad count?

The situation is still bad, but half a dozen characters are more than three characters. If we're going to count Native appearances, let's count them all.

1 comment:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
And all of that despite the various networks' protestations to the contrary, even to the point of 'diversity' policies and projects, CBS in particular. Now, NBC did get finagled by the Oneida Tribe of New York with a self-serving and all-but-fraudulent nationwide Native "talent search", however, and that could account for some of the current seeming hesitancy to embrace Native actors and/or topics in their programming. Still, given the entire history of broadcast TV in the US, nothing ever has changed or is in any danger of ever being changed. writerfella operated in the TV arena between 1968 and 1979, thus knowing fully well the truth of the above...
All Best
Russ Bates