Re: RARA-AVIS: "the races"/Kevin

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 16 Nov 2001

Carrie wrote:

"Any doubt that, say, Samuel L. Jackson, who's a huge box office draw, is every bit as capable of carrying a TV series as, say, Richard Dreyfuss or James Cromwell?"

As has already been pointed out, neither of the venerable white actors' shows is doing well, the latter's already being canceled. Now if he had been reprising his role as Dudley Smith . . .

Your point that this is based on executive assumptions about what might be popular is well taken. And they are clearly stuck in a rut. For the most part (Steve Harris in The Practice and a number of actors on doctor shows to the contrary), most prominent black roles are in comedies or as bad guys.

Look at the new crime shows this season. Ving Rhames was great in UC
(yes, I know that the main criminal, the great WIlliam Forsythe, is white), but he was a drug lord; the only person of color on the cop team is in the small role of profiler. There are a few others in ensemble casts -- among new shows, there are the lawyer in the new Law and Order, a fellow spy and a friend in Alias, one of the Feds in Thieves, two of the forensics guys in Crossing Jordan (one black, one Indian or Pakistani) and I can't think of any, offhand, in Philly. This is just crime shows. There are a bunch in new comedies.

As far as it goes, though, is this any different from most contemporary hardboiled fiction? How often do we meet a black, and when we do, how often in a non-criminal role? Sure, we can all think of a few exceptions to that claim, but they are clearly exceptions.


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