The networks adjust their fall lineups in response to NAACP’s fury about the “whitewashing” of prime time.
Dear Concerned Member of the NAACP:
The response to this year’s preliminary fall schedule indicated that you felt minorities were being underrepresented on television.
Let us emphasize that at that time this was a preliminary lineup and not all casting or pilot pickups had been finalized. Executives at ABC intended all along to bring you a prime-time lineup that “looks like America.” Here is a brief description of the 1999-2000 season, with new series showcasing the hottest stars of today—and tomorrow—and a “funky fresh” new look for some of our top-rated series.
Two Guys, a Girl, and a Black Guy. After the Pizza Place burns down, the unsinkable trio learn to enjoy a
different “slice” of life at their new hangout: the Java Jive, where straight-talking milk-foamer DeShawn (Daryl “Chill” Mitchell), an aspiring rapper, provides laughs, latte, and irreverent advice. Season premiere: Sharon signs the guys up for a swing-dancing class—without their knowledge.
The Drew Carey Show. Look for changes in the cosmetics department now that Kate’s in charge of a sassy new trainee (Vanessa L. Williams). Season premiere: Drew suspects Oswald is stealing his socks; Lewis joins a polka band.
Say What? Debut. A black family moves into a neighborhood and encounters difficulties and laughs. Cast to be announced.
And don’t forget that thanks to the efforts of such producer-creator talents as Steven Bochco (NYPD Blue), ABC has consistently hired African-American and Latino actors to represent important elements of the complex law enforcement business. Week after week, this network has brought you hard-hitting drama series that “look like America,” featuring numerous minorities in prominent roles that demonstrate such values as athleticism (a character runs down a street with a TV set), loyalty (a character refuses to “give up” the whereabouts of a crack-dealing “homey”), and dedication to family (a female actor in the role of a weary single mother of four). Please help us continue to celebrate diversity by tuning in and telling your family and friends about ABC’s fall “colors.”
September 3, 1999
Mr. Mfume Kweisi
President & CEO
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
4805 Mount Hope Drive
Baltimore, MD 21215
Dear Mr. Kweisi:
The comic masterminds at NBC want you to know: We’ve been listening. We understand that some of our most valued viewers not only crave NBC’s Thursday night Must-See TV (8 p.m.-11 p.m.), but that you would like to see more fascinating and complex ethnic characters in addition to the many that NBC already offers, characters like ER’s Dr. Benton and Lt. Anita Van Buren on Law and Order. To that end, we have adjusted our fall 1999-2000 prime-time lineup to meet the needs of our most cherished consumer—you!
Here’s a brief look at just some of the exciting changes we have in store:
Suddenly Susan. Susan doesn’t like it when the Gate gang goes “Suddenly Shamika”—it’s catfight at first sight the minute a statuesque former model (Tyra Banks) comes to work at San Francisco’s wackiest magazine. First episode: Susan and Shamika have to set aside their squabbles while snowed in together covering the Iditerod.
Peeps. Debut! Four 20-something housemates—an activist (Larenz Tate), a law student (Mekhi Phifer), a slumming heiress (Tisha Campbell), and an aromatherapist (Rae Dawn Chong)—share zany situations as well as a Philadelphia brownstone. Landlady: Ja’net Dubois
You won’t want to miss our amazingly diverse new fall lineup.
P.S. And be sure to watch out for the very special programs we have lined up for sweeps month in November!
From: WB Broadcasting
Re: The latest from the Dubba-Dubba-WB Fall 1999
Please be advised of the following changes in Warner Bros. network Fall 1999 season:
Felicity. A new student (Nia Long) gets under Felicity’s skin when she sets her sights on Noel.
Dawson’s Creek. A transfer student from Chicago (Tamera Mowry) shakes up Joey when she sets her sights on Dawson.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer. An accomplished witch (Lela Rochon) breezes into Sunnydale to help sharpen Willow’s hexing power, but Willow sharpens the ax for her when she sets her sights on Xander.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 26, 1999
CBS Revised Fall Schedule
“Becker.” Becker treats a hypochondriac (recurring guest star Charles S. Dutton).
“60 Minutes II.” Meet new correspondent Sterling Woodrow Vandervere. In his “60 Minutes II” debut, “Life in Black and White,” Vandervere travels to Georgia to face up to his family history—his great-grandmother may have been one-eighth African-American.
Get ready for ANOTHER FOXTASTIC SEASON!
Summer may be over, but FOX continues to steam up the scene with sizzling new shows. Who says we can’t all get along? With FOX stirring the melting pot, love may be (color)blind, but it sure is funny!
In This Is the Life!, Harry Rockwell, a blustering bigot with a heart of gold, wants to move his large, squabbling family into a rambling country house for some peace and quiet. Soft-spoken civil-rights lawyer Harry Rockwell wants to escape the inner city by moving his wife and son into…the same house?! There’s only one name on the lease, but whose is it? Both Rockwell families move in, but they’ll have to learn to get along—or else. Pilot: Carolyn donates Harry’s favorite bowling shirt to the church rummage sale, and Ruby buys it; LeShawn and Ashley get to know each other in the laundry room.
PREMIERE! PREMIERE! PREMIERE!
From the creative team that brought you Babylon 5, it’s ECLECTICA: SICKBAY 13. On the Medical Station Eclectica, a bustling outerspace hospital, a diverse crew of beings from many planetary systems struggle to heal the sick and keep themselves safe in a zone thick with intergalactic combat. There’s sassy checkpoint significator Aruha from the planet Tsangoo, torn apart by tribal warfare; fiesty orderly Lope-Ezz, a brightly feathered creature of a noble clan of warriors; beautiful but haunted Nurse Zana, who rejects all suitors; and twin interns Kiin and Kell, the ship’s mischievous pranksters. What does the superintelligent Doctor Logic make of all this? Unfortunately, the pale cyborg from Ivorania doesn’t always get the crew’s valid expressions of their unique viewpoints and cultural pride. Cast TBA.
URGENT URGENT URGENT URGENT URGENT URGENT URGENT URGENT URGENT
From the UPN Studios: A message for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other interested parties
Whassup? As a concerned television network and one of the most ethnic-progressive corporations in the media, we understand your objection to the old-school networks’ 1999-2000 fall lineup. That’s why we here at UPN have always represented America’s brothers and sisters with our multi-ethnic, laugh-a-minute series such as Moesha, Between Brothers, Malcolm & Eddie, Martin, and In the House. We know you weren’t talking about us, but we can’t stop creating those high-quality shows you, and the rest of America, tune in to week after week. So meet T.J. Livingstone (Debbie Allen), the plucky young divorcee at the center of You Go, Girl! After her ex-husband (Blair Underwood) leaves T.J. with nothing but her dignity, she must start all over at 30, waitressing in a bar filled with comical cutups, attending night school, and attracting the interest of her sportscaster neighbor (Todd Bridges). Check it out, America! —Arion Berger