- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Diversity gains

The major broadcast networks have made strides in bringing minorities into the TV picture, according to a coalition that has worked for four years to bring greater diversity to television, AP reports.

“All of the networks have finally come to the realization it’s good business to incorporate people of color into their corporation,” said Esteban Torres, chairman of the Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition, at a news conference earlier this week.

Hispanics have gained in their on-screen representation and in behind-the-scenes employment at ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, but Asian Americans still lag at all the networks despite some improvements, the group said.

“The new fall shows are stunning in the near-total absence of [Asian-Americans] in any role of significance,” said Karen Narasaki of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition.

The Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition on Monday released its fourth annual diversity “report card” on the status of Hispanics and Asian-Americans. The representation of blacks in the television industry will be addressed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People next week in Washington.

Unlike grades issued for the past three years, which combined the marks for different ethnic groups, this year’s report card addressed individual findings for Hispanics and Asian Americans.

The overall grades represent marks in seven areas, including the number of prime-time actors, writers and producers; procurement policies; and network commitment to diversity initiatives.

Fox was the star pupil for 2003, with a B-plus, according to the National Latino Media Council. The network was the overall leader in diversity of programming and employment and in doing business with outside minority vendors, Mr. Torres said.

NBC and CBS both earned C-pluses, while ABC was given a B by the Hispanic group.

Every network has progressed since the grades were handed out the first year, when most received D’s.

“We’re proud of the strides we continue to make year in and year out, and we appreciate the acknowledgment,” said Mitsy Wilson, senior vice president of diversity for the Fox Entertainment Group.

In a statement, NBC said it has made “measurable progress” in boosting minority representation in its prime-time schedule.”

ABC president Alex Wallau said in a statement that achieving diversity “continues to be a high priority” and that the network is “working every day to find new and creative ways to further this important effort.”

CBS declined to comment on the report.

Together again

Director Michael Bay and writer Shane Salerno, the creative team behind 1998’s “Armageddon,” have reunited to make a crime drama for ABC, Reuters News Agency reports.

Described as a “modern-day tale of good versus evil,” the character-based drama is inspired by federal agent Eliot Ness’ pursuit of Al Capone during the 1920s.

The new project will center on an idealistic U.S. attorney and family man who leaves his powerful Washington position to return to his hometown of Chicago and take on a childhood friend, now the kingpin behind a powerful criminal network.

“The series will pose a simple question: How long can a good man stay good when he is pursuing evil?” Mr. Salerno told Reuters.

The network has committed to a pilot for the still-untitled project, which Mr. Salerno is writing and Mr. Bay is developing with an eye toward directing.

For Mr. Bay, who has made a splash on the big screen with such blockbusters as the two “Bad Boys” movies, “The Rock” and “Pearl Harbor,” the project marks his first foray into TV.

Mr. Salerno’s “Alien vs. Predator,” which he co-penned with Paul W.S. Anderson for 20th Century Fox, begins shooting Oct. 23 in Prague. His script for Marvel Comics superhero “Ghost Rider” is slated to begin filming in the spring, starring Nicolas Cage.

Whacked and back

It looks as if Tony is going to have one whacked-out dream this season on “The Sopranos.”

TV Guide Online, quoting the Hollywood Reporter, says several characters killed during the HBO drama’s first four seasons will return next year for a dream sequence. Among those coming back to life: Vincent Pastore (Sal Bonpensiero), David Proval (Richie Aprile), John Heard (Detective Vin Makazian), Al Sapienza (Mikey Palmice), Dan Grimaldi (Philly “Spoons” Parisi) Jason Cerbone (Jackie Aprile Jr.) and, if a deal can be worked out, Emmy winner Joe Pantoliano (Ralph Cifaretto), who now stars on CBS’ “The Handler.”

Baseball rules ratings

Sammy Sosa isn’t the only one hitting home runs these days.

The Fox network walloped a few out of the park last week to win the television ratings war.

Juicy baseball matchups boosted the network to first place for the week of Oct. 6 through 12, according to the Associated Press.

Buoyed by exciting games in big markets and the rise of perennial bridesmaids the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, Fox’s audience for the baseball playoffs is up a dramatic 37 percent over last year, Nielsen Media Research said Tuesday.

Friday’s game between the Cubs and Florida Marlins drew the biggest audience for a Friday baseball game since 1995, Nielsen said. The first round of the playoffs scored its best ratings since 1997.

The week’s top five shows were CBS’ “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” NBC’s “Friends,” NBC’s “ER,” CBS’ “Survivor: Pearl Islands” and Fox’s Wednesday broadcast of the Red Sox-New York Yankees playoff game.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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