CBS execs came under fire after announcing their new shows on Wednesday. The network faced criticism for the second year in a row after it was revealed that its upcoming fall lineup would feature all male leads.
"More women watch CBS, percentage-wise, than any other network, so our shows have a lot of female appeal," network CEO Les Moonves said about the number (zero) of female leads in CBS's newly announced schedule at the annual Upfronts breakfast in New York City.
"I don't think we've ever had to apologize for having Madam Secretary and Lucy Liu, and The Good Fight, and The Good Wife," he added. "We do a number of pilots, a lot of them have women in starring roles. There are a lot of women on the schedule. The best pilots win at the end of the day. And we think our track record is OK."
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We should note that, out of the six new shows being added to their schedule this fall (SEAL Team, Young Sheldon, Wisdom Of The Crowd, Me, Myself And I, 9JKL and S.W.A.T.), only one person of color features in a lead role (Shemar Moore in S.W.A.T.), and not one woman is a lead. That's in stark contrast to the increased diversity promised by former CEO Glenn Gellar during last year's Upfronts breakfast.
When a reporter pressed the issue and asked if CBS might be "facing the wrong direction," Moonves had a counterargument.
"I don't think that's the case. Let me put on my CEO hat for a second because I'm not the president of entertainment. When I look at the totality of what CBS is, I look at news, I look at daytime, I look at sports, I look at Showtime, I look at The CW," he said. "And when you look at the totality of that, I think we're fine in terms of the number of women who are behind the camera and in front of the camera."
He continued: "I think we're doing a very good job. I don't think we're looking in the wrong direction, on the contrary."
We'll see if they do a better job next season.