Tuesday, December 02, 2008

LA Times Article: 'Where are TV's Obama-like Characters?'

Interesting article.

Where are TV's Obama-like characters?

Some prominent creative forces behind shows that featured black families see a tougher road ahead.
By Greg Braxton
November 30, 2008

Long before he set out for the White House, Barack Obama sought to adjust the colors on America's TV sets.

Four years ago, fresh off his star-making keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, Obama challenged the television industry to live up to its responsibility as the country's "most powerful media" and accurately reflect the nation's population. "TV ought to reflect the reality of America's diversity and should do so with pride and dignity, not with stereotypes," he told the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. But as Obama prepares to move into the White House in January, he and his family will be hard pressed to find blacks like themselves represented on any of the major networks -- ABC, NBC, CBS or Fox.

In fact, not only will they have great difficulty locating any black family in a leading role on the networks, they also will see it's nearly impossible to find a scripted comedy or drama that features a young person of color in a central role.

Although the networks' prime-time slates are packed with more than a dozen comedies and dramas revolving around family life or involve characters who are related (from " Brothers & Sisters," to " Two and a Half Men," to "Dirty Sexy Money"), almost all of them have predominantly white casts. A black family has not anchored a network series since "The Bernie Mac Show" left Fox in 2006.

Whether the presence of a popular African American president and his charismatic family will affect the racial dynamics of prime time is an intriguing question. The subject is an uncomfortable one for the networks, as most high-ranking network executives and diversity heads declined to talk about the issue.

And people in the black creative community disagree about the prospects -- some even saying Obama's presence may actually raise the bar for their work.

Full article: www.latimes.com

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