Entertainment

CBS Pledges to Make the Casts of ‘Survivor’ and ‘Big Brother’ 50% People of Color

Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

CBS just announced that it is committing to making at least 50% of the casts of their unscripted shows Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC). CBS also announced that they are devoting 25% of their unscripted budget to BIPOC creators. The changes are expected to take effect in the 2021-2022 season.

“The reality TV genre is an area that’s especially underrepresented, and needs to be more inclusive across development, casting, production and all phases of storytelling,” said CBS CEO George Cheeks. “As we strive to improve all of these creative aspects, the commitments announced today are important first steps in sourcing new voices to create content and further expanding the diversity in our unscripted programming, as well as on our Network.”

CBS’s unscripted TV shows include fan-favorite staples like “Survivor”, “The Amazing Race”, “Big Brother”, and “Love Island”. The network has regularly come under fire for failing to cast diverse talent in both their scripted and unscripted programs. Unlike other broadcast networks like ABC (Grey’s Anatomy, literally any other Shondaland show) or NBC (This Is Us, Superstore), CBS has a reputation for white-washing its programming.

Last year, a former CBS Diversity & Inclusion executive wrote an op-ed in Variety accusing the company of having a “white problem”.

“While CBS proudly touts its diversity programs, a close look beneath the surface reveals that the company is unconcerned about creating space for minorities,” wrote Whitney Davis, who is a Black woman. “CBS continues to promote its diversity initiatives in public, while internally minorities are practically invisible.” 

In June of this year, a group of Black “Survivor” alumni created a petition demanding that the stalwart show make 30% of its cast BIPOC. They also asked that BIPOC are given “equitable screen time and opportunities to participate in marketing and promotional events.” The show’s Black alumni alleged that they were ostracized, gaslighted, and short-shrifted while they were contestants on the show. The petition received almost 8,000 signatures to-date.

As is expected, fan reactions have been mixed. Some people are happy that CBS is making the effort to fix the structural problems of their company. But others feel that the commitment is forced and will result in BIPOC cast members being treated as tokens.

This person is confident that CBS’s unscripted shows will simply improve by including more people of color on their cast lists.

If anything, this decision will add some much-needed change to their tired formulas.

This person was ready to submit their application.

Now that people know the playing field is more even, we’re sure that CBS will receive a more diverse pool of applications.

This person has doubts as to how CBS will approach choosing and casting POC.

It’s one thing to talk about diversity, but it’s another thing to actually choose people who represent a range of diverse cultures.

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The Trailer For the ‘Saved By the Bell’ Reboot Just Dropped and Slater Is Front and Center

Entertainment

The Trailer For the ‘Saved By the Bell’ Reboot Just Dropped and Slater Is Front and Center

Photo: Universal Television/YouTube

The trailer for the “Saved By the Bell” reboot dropped on Tuesday and it actually looks…good? We’re so excited, we just can’t hide it. The series has long been in the works, with the reboot being announced all the way back in September 2019.

The reboot will revolve Zack Morris (who is now a California governor) after he “gets into hot water” after he closes a bunch of low-income high schools. Governor Zack’s brilliant idea is to send the kids affected by the school closures to the “highest performing schools in the state”, which naturally, includes Bayside High. According to the synopsis, “the influx of new students gives the over privileged Bayside kids a much needed and hilarious dose of reality.” We never imagined “Saved By the Bell” tackling class-conflict before, but hey! Weirder things have happened in 2020.

Much of the original cast is slated to appear, including Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris, Elizabeth Berkley as Jessica Spano, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski, and of course, Mario Lopez in the legendary role of Slater. Thankfully, Slater appears like he will be in the show quite a bit, playing a coach to the high school students (why aren’t we surprised?).

In addition to the original cast, it looks like the series has also added a bunch of new characters to flesh out the new series. One of those characters will be “Mac Morris”, Zack Morris’ mini-me son. And judging by the trailer and promotional materials, the show’s lead will be a Latina character named Daisy, played by newcomer Haskiri Velazquez.

Lopez has been vocal about his excitement for the reboot, recently telling Women’s Day that the reboot is “much funnier, to be quite honest.” “It’s got a different look and feel and much more mature ‘Saved by the Bell’,” he explained. “But I think they [struck] a good balance with this nostalgia in the new version.” He also teased that he might “bring back the mohawk,” but it appears we weren’t that lucky.

And now that we saw the trailer, we have to agree with Lopez. The new series appears to be a sort of tongue-in-cheek meta-commentary on the cheesiness of the original ’90s series. The plot device of the “outsiders” (i.e. lower-income students) coming into Bayside High is genius. It means the show can be cheesy and over-the-top while poking fun of it’s self in a self-aware way. In other words, it’s the best of both worlds.

The series is set to premiere on Wednesday, Nov. 25 on NBC’s streaming service Peacock.

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Oscar Isaac Will Be Marvel’s First Live-Action Latino Superhero on Disney Plus

Entertainment

Oscar Isaac Will Be Marvel’s First Live-Action Latino Superhero on Disney Plus

Photo: Roy Rochlin/WireImage

Oscar Isaac was cast in the new Disney+ Marvel TV series “Moon Knight”. According to Variety, “Moon Knight” will tell the story of “an elite soldier and mercenary who decides to fight crime after he becomes the human avatar of Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon.”

The news is exciting because it marks the Guatemalan-American actor’s first lead on a TV series and Marvel’s first live-action Latino superhero. In a time when seeing Latinos on TV is rare, this announcement gives us hope that Hollywood is becoming more open to hiring Latinx talent. It is also exciting because this isn’t the first time that Disney+ has hired a Latino actor to spearhead one of its blockbuster shows.

The streaming giant also hired Chilean-American actor Pedro Pascal to be the lead of its extremely successful Star Wars spinoff series “The Mandalorian,” which will be premiering its second season on October 30th. “The Mandalorian” follows a story of a mysterious space bounty hunter who goes on the run with a “child” (i.e. Baby Yoda) he was hired to track down and return to his client.

“The Mandalorian” was a commercial and critical darling. Experts believed it helped launch Disney+ into the competitive streaming market. Experts believe the show was one of the reasons Disney+ amassed 26.5 million subscribers in its first six weeks.

And as Variety so astutely noted, since there will be no new Star Wars movies until at least 2023, Pascal is the current and only face of the Star Wars franchise. The burden is heavy, but Pascal bears it well. And his excellence in the role is further proof that Latinos can and should be starring in more TV shows.

The hiring of Isaac and Pascal as the leads of their two major shows makes Disney+ strides ahead of other networks who won’t take a chance on Latinx talent. The failure of Hollywood to give Latinos a seat at the table has been a hot-button issue of late, with the problem culminating recently in an open letter that 270 Latinx writers recently penned condemning the entertainment industry. The letter noted that Latinos make up 18.3% of the U.S. population, but only 8.7% of TV writers.

The move to cast Isaac after the success of Pascal in “The Mandalorian” might not be coincidental. The two men are famously close and have been best friends for years after meeting in an off-Broadway play at the beginning of their careers. Isaac has been candid about that time in their lives and in the industry at large, telling Variety that back then it was “so easy to be pigeonholed in very specific roles because we’re Latinos.”

“The dream was to be able to pay rent,” Isaac continued. “There wasn’t a strategy. We were just struggling. It was talking about how to do this thing that we both love but seems kind of insurmountable.” The two actors have been friends rather than competitors in a cutthroat industry, so much so that Isaac convinced Pascal to audition for “The Mandalorian” in the first place, as he told Wired.

It’s worth giving Disney+ credit where credit is due. While people like to discount TV shows and movies as if they don’t make a difference, the truth is, it is so fulfilling to see someone who looks like you reflected back to you through your TV screen. Representation matters.

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