Powered by i.TV
October 31, 2014

Upcoming Pilots Offer Diverse Lineup, Says Report

by Laura Prudom, posted Feb 17th 2010 12:00PM
Casting for pilot season is halfway through and a welcome new trend seems to be emerging; the top-billed leads of four drama pilots are non-Caucasian, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

It doesn't hurt that these pilots are also among the highest profile projects on offer this season; 'Undercovers,' the 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith'-esque spy show from J.J. Abrams will feature Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Boris Kodjoe as its central couple (and a very attractive couple, at that), while Oscar winner Forest Whitaker will take the lead for CBS' 'Criminal Minds' spin-off.

Hunky Laz Alonso, last seen (kind of) as belligerent Na'vi warrior Tsu'tey in 'Avatar,' is set to front the Fox action-drama 'Breakout Kings,' which is directed and exec-produced by 'X-Men: Origins' helmer Gavin Hood. Freddy Rodriguez, last spotted on prime time as 'Ugly Betty' love-interest Gio, has been tapped to star in CBS' CIA drama 'Chaos,' from director and executive producer Brett Ratner.Casting for pilot season is halfway through and a welcome new trend seems to be emerging: the top-billed leads of four drama pilots are non-Caucasian, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

It doesn't hurt that these pilots are also among the highest-profile projects on offer this season. 'Undercovers,' the 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith'-esque spy show from J.J. Abrams will feature Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Boris Kodjoe as its central couple (and a very attractive couple, at that), while Oscar winner Forest Whitaker will take the lead for CBS' 'Criminal Minds' spin-off.

Hunky Laz Alonso, last seen (kind of) as belligerent Na'vi warrior Tsu'tey in 'Avatar,' is set to front the Fox action-drama 'Breakout Kings,' which is directed and exec-produced by 'X-Men: Origins' helmer Gavin Hood. Freddy Rodriguez, last spotted on prime time as 'Ugly Betty' love-interest Gio, has been tapped to star in CBS' CIA drama 'Chaos,' from director and executive producer Brett Ratner.

THR cites "the Obama effect" for the turning tide in casting this year -- last pilot season, the LL Cool J vehicle 'NCIS: Los Angeles' was the only new show to be fronted by a minority actor, and the former rapper still shares top-billing with Chris O'Donnell. The year before, there were allegedly no pilots with minority leads. In more established quarters, CBS recently replaced beloved 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation' star William Petersen with 'The Matrix' star Laurence Fishburne, a move that seems to have been met with overall positive critical reaction.

With the hiring of Whitaker, LL Cool J and Fishburne as headliners in its biggest crime franchises, as well as Rodriguez for new drama 'Chaos,' CBS seems to be among the vanguard of networks willing to buck the previously unsuccessful trend of casting minority leads.

While CBS head of casting Peter Golden admits that diversity is at the top of the network's mind when developing projects and writing scripts, THR reports that many of the minority casting decisions this season were unplanned, as it should be.

Upcoming 'Undercovers' leads Mbatha-Raw and Kodjoe were apparently cast color-blind, with producers evaluating the chemistry between actors, as well as who best fit the characters; it was a similar story with Fox's 'Breakout Kings.' Early script breakdowns for Whitaker's character in the 'Criminal Minds' spin-off allegedly used Michael Keaton and Kiefer Sutherland as prototypes. On the other end of the scale, 'Chaos' writer Tom Spezialy created the lead character with Rodriguez in mind.

Of course, pilot casting is one thing. Whether any of these high-profile projects can make it to a full season pickup is quite another, but for now, at least, it seems as though the winds of change are finally blowing over prime time.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

Follow Us

From Our Partners