Les Moonves defends: 'The best pilots win'
Credit: CBS (6)

Last year, CBS was criticized for a new fall lineup that featured six shows all staring white males.

This fall’s just-revealed lineup shows the broadcaster has gotten more diverse: Five shows starring white males … and one starring former Criminal Minds favorite Shemar Moore.

A reporter at the CBS press breakfast on Wednesday asked CBS chief Les Moonves if having no new shows with female leads is really a good idea. “We saw this with you guys last year,” the reporter asked. “Are you concerned, particularly in a medium like television where women watch more than men, that you have such a male-centered [lineup]?”

“Well, number one, more women watch CBS, percentage-wise, than any other network, so our shows have a lot of female appeal,” Moonves countered. “I don’t think we’ve ever had to apologize for having Madam Secretary and Lucy Liu [on Elementary], and The Good Fight [on CBS All Access] and The Good Wife. 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 okay.”

The reporter pressed: “We’re at this point in the industry — FX, for example, is trying to make sure half its directors are female. It seems like you guys might be facing in the wrong direction?”

Moonves replied: “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. And when you look at the totality of that, I think we’re fine in terms of the amount of women who are behind the camera and in front of the camera. I think we’re doing a very good job. I don’t think we’re looking in the wrong direction, on the contrary.”

Here was CBS’ lineup of new stars last fall:


CBS’ new fall shows are SEAL Team starring David Boreanaz (Bones), S.W.A.T. starring Moore (Minds), Wisdom of the Crowd starring Jeremy Piven (Entourage), 9JKL starring Mark Feuerstein (Royal Pains), Me, Myself & I starring Bobby Moynihan (Saturday Night Live), and Young Sheldon starring Iain Armitage (Big Little Lies).