Change The Game 2: Let’s Talk Fall Television

Yes, The Game is canceled but there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel and they’re headed to television this fall.

Earlier this week you might have read about the state of ‘black sitcoms’ in relation to reality television. While there is still a lack of diversity on television overall, particularly in leading roles, a few familiar faces are gearing up for the fall season. These new faces come with a reported 20 new scripted shows on five broadcast networks including Fox, NBC and TBS.

So before you cut your TIVO, DVR or cable off in protest, you might want to watch premieres of “Brothers,” “Trauma,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” and “The Cleveland Show” — all set for fall 2009 debuts.

The first of the scripted shows is ‘Brothers,’ which features a primarily African American cast, including former NFL star Michael Strahan, Darryl “Chill” Mitchell and CCH Pounder. Centered around a recently retired NFL player living in New York City, who gets sidelined when his mom orders him home to Houston, ‘Brothers’ ends up highlighting the value of family. (more on the ‘Brothers’ here)

Hollywood talents Derek Luke, LL Cool J and Jada Pinkett Smith are also lined up for leading roles in NBC’s Trauma, NCIS: Los Angeles and TNT’s ‘Hawthorne’ respectively. Sanaa Lathan and Nia Long are also lined up with ‘voice roles’ in the ‘Family Guy’esque’ spinoff of sorts, ‘The Cleveland Show’ (Fox).

Now, it’s clear that there should be a bit more diversity in leading roles but that appears to be it for the fall. Yes, there are stars like Tristan Wilds on 90210 and Vanessa Williams on ‘Ugly Betty’ as well. However, in terms of overall black casts on major network television, we’re back to year 2000 numbers, reports TV writer Rick Porter.

Porter, taking a close look at the numbers, says “The 20 new scripted shows on the five broadcast networks this fall have, by my count, 135 regulars (including the voice cast of “The Cleveland Show” on FOX). Of those 135 people, 30 are African-American, Latino, Asian-American or multiracial — about 22 percent, or not that much different than 2000 census figures that show just under 25 percent of the population as non-white.”

With Porter’s analysis in mind pickings are slim in scripted television.

In unscripted television things are heating up though. BET has confirmed new reality series that will follow everyone from R&B singer Monica to ‘Everybody Hates Chris’ actor Terry Crews.

VH1 will also air a reality series that follows NFL star Terrell “TO” Owens and a walk around reality jaunt with American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino.

So there you have it… a quick look at the fall 2009 line up. Hopefully we’ll see a few changes in the Spring 2010 line up. Perhaps something from ‘The Game’ creator Mara Brock Akil !

* Update: ‘Hawthorne,’ featuring Jada Pinkett Smith, premieres June 16 on TNT.

—— By: Njai Joszor


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