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Color-Blind Casting

"Friends" exec producer David Crane came to Summer TV Press Tour 2006 over the weekend to promote his next all-white ensemble sitcom about a bunch of people living in an urban East Coast setting - this time Philly.

It's called "The Class," it's for CBS, and it's about a group of 20-somethings who have known each other since third grade and who get together for a reunion of sorts.

"Why aren't there any people of color in this show set in 2006?" one critic wanted to know.

"It is something that is unfortunate," Crane said, putting on his Sad Face.

"It happened because when we wrote the script, we wrote it color-blind... and then we auditioned. For six months we saw just a huge range and diversity of actors and at the end of the day these were absolutely the eight actors who were absolutely right for the parts."

Wouldn't you think that, in this day and age, the TV industry talk on the West Side of Los Angeles would have labored long and hard to come up with something fresher than that old line? Crane and gang were using this one back when "Friends" debuted in the mid 90's.

We weren't the only member of the press who found it lame:

"When the word 'color-blind' casting is almost always used, is it possible that color-blind casting isn't working and you need to think about some other way? Because color-blind doesn't seem to do it," one critic cracked

"Having gotten to the end of the process, I would say 'yeah.' If we had it to do over again, I think we wouldn't. I think we would have approached the piece differently," he said, which also sounded suspiciously familiar.

"Is it possible that it has to start in the writing?" the critic continued.

"I'm absolutely agreeing with you. I think whatever we do next -- hopefully we won't have too much opportunity to, because we'll be busy doing this -- but whatever we do next, yeah, I think that is absolutely the case."

And, he promised, we'll see some actual non-white characters in future episodes of the series. Turns out, twins Kat and Lina were adopted by Korean parents, while Nicole's stepdaughter has an African-American mother.

By Maura McCarthy  |  July 17, 2006; 11:02 AM ET
Categories:  Summer TV Press Tour 2006  
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