Thursday, May 11, 2017


We're one big melting pot these days.   Okay, I get it.

America is a tapestry of all people from all lands who speak all languages and worship all religions.   No, this is not going to be a rant for or against Donald Trump.  Nope, it's about the push afoot to remind us every second of every minute of every day.   And the ones doing that the most are the yokels in Hollyweird, USA.

So, my writing partner and I are part of a team putting together a sitcom project that will hopefully live some place in the variety of portals where entertainment can live in 2017.  We cast it as if we were doing it for reals and, right now, we are dependent on the good graces of a terrific cast who has yet to be paid a dime.   I am proud of what we have assembled and this casting has been mostly my work.

I am so filled with pride about what we are trying to accomplish that I show somebody at my church photos from the social media shoot we did.   She looked at the cast photo.

"Oh, you don't have a diverse cast?"

I explained we had what we had.   And, oh yeah, there is a Hispanic actor in the mix but he didn't bother to show up...don't get me started.   Nevertheless, I was put off by this because, indeed, any one of our characters could have been something other than White.   But they are not.   I held my tongue, but the question I wanted to ask this church chum was how many people of color she had living in her lily white neighborhood of Manhattan Beach.

So, one of the actors in my cast tells me that she hasn't gotten many callbacks or auditions because she is not either Black, Asian, or Hispanic.  This despite the fact that, in my mind, she is one terrific performer.

Then, you hear about this clown who created the Broadway megahit "Hamilton."  Perhaps you have heard of it.  Well, Lin-Manuel Miranda Whatever announces that future national tours will feature actors completely of color and that White actors need not audition.

Uh huh.   Now isn't this a trifle discriminatory?  What about hiring the very best talent for the role?  Most people have already overlooked the fact that Alexander Hamilton was not really Hispanic in the 1700s.  I look at the clips of the current Broadway spectacular "Hello Dolly" with Bette Midler.  One of the production numbers features the rich upper class of Yonkers circa 1900.   I see two African-Americans as part of that ensemble.  Now, okay, as unfortunate as it was, history tells me that there were likely very few Black members of the rich elite back then.

Is this mike on?  

On our own little project, we have given thought to the notion that one of our characters could be diverse because we wrote it color blind.  But, when you do that, you also open up another box of worms.  I heard a story here of one African-American actress on a TV show who started to complain that the White producers couldn't write for her race.  Guess who got ousted?  Not her.  So the double edged sword is that you wanted to be considered equal but still remain different?  Have I got that right?

These days, Hollywood works double overtime to make sure that every single project on stage or on the screen clicks off those all-important diverse boxes.  

1.  African-American or Hispanic or Asian.

2.  LGBT.

3.  Empowered women.

"Moonlight," as overrated as it was, largely won the Oscar for Best Picture because it clicked off on # 1 and # 2.  The not-as-revolutionary-TV-as-it-thinks-it-is "This Is Us" reminds us constantly that the main characters adopted an African-American child.   Same on "Grace and Frankie."   There was no doubt that the "new" Jack Bauer on the "24" recent reboot was going to be Black.  It's okay but, at some point, this also seems forced like a little kid struggling to go on the potty.  If "Mary Tyler Moore" was going on the air in 2017 (and it probably wouldn't get picked up), Murray would be a transgender and Rhoda would likely be Korean.   For no good reason except that was required to get on the air.

I actually talked to a very smart African-American millennial who does the fan engagement for a bunch of TV shows.   He really liked our project and didn't care one iota that we did not have a rainbow cast.  

"The characters you have fit the story you are telling."


I also quizzed on his take about the whole diversity push.

"It's starting to be very silly and forced."

I say amen again.

You know, one of my favorite TV shows of all time was "Knots Landing."  Back in the middle of their run (1988 or so), one couple was written out of the famed Seaview Circle cul-de-sac and a house became available.  The new family happened to be African-American.   But what was remarkable to me is that they never ever once mentioned their race.   The Williams family just had the same issues that anybody else on the show had.  They were used perfectly and seamlessly.

The way it should be.

My point is that, if diversity fits the story, please tell it.   But don't require it.  I have no issues seeing something featuring the Garcia family or the Jones family or the Wong family or kids being raised by dads Tom and Dennis.   But, I also say that...

...we shouldn't forget about Ward, June, Wally, and the Beaver.

Dinner last night:  Bacon wrapped Dodger Dog.

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