On the National Review's The Corner blog, According to Jim producer Warren Bell outlines the interesting dilemma of diversity-casting his show: Is it better to let ATJ continue on its current, alarmingly high honky-density, or to risk star Jim Belushi cold-cocking a slumming David Alan Grier in the name of better minority representation?
Yesterday the head of Disney's Touchstone Television and the head of casting for ABC/Disney called me to, er, suggest that According to Jim might do a little better this year in terms of casting minorities in significant roles. Our admittedly dismal track record was recited to me — two Asian-Americans, one Latino (oh, dear, is that the right term?) in roles of "guest star" billing during the 26-episode course of last season. "Guest star" is higher than "co-star," for purposes of non-regular characters. They didn't talk about "co-star," where I think we did a little better.
The exex were quick to point out that they weren't singling out ATJ — they were calling all their shows. And I said nothing more than "message received, we'll do better," because that's the kind of cheery, can-do attitude I like to display for my bosses.
With you guys I can whine a little. It's really hard! Half of our guest stars end up in fistfights with one of the regulars. So am I supposed to cast the first African-American neighbor in the history of the show, only to have Jim punch him out for being a loudmouth?
We think we might have a workable solution: stunt-cast Mike Tyson as the "diverse" neighbor. People will accuse Belushi of being suicidal before the race question ever gets raised.
- DIVERSITY TRAINING [The Corner]