Wednesday, October 09, 2002

whitewash - two medical dramas based recently premiered on network tv, and despite their assertions to the contrary, television executives still don’t get it. both ‘presidio med' on cbs and ‘MDs’ on abc are set in san francisco, a city whose population is nearly one-third asian. but besides the common focus on medicine, the two shows also display yet another collective quality: the complete absence of asians from lead roles. true to form, cbs said it intends to cast more asians in guest roles as the series progresses—which means we’ll most likely be seeing more of pat morita (as a kung-fu sage) and possibly ming-na wen as her career as the token asian winds down.

It was a question that seemed to fluster ABC's MDs creator Gary Tieche: How real can a medical series set in San Francisco feel if it has only one [minor] actor of Asian heritage?

"What I tried to do was ground it in reality as much as possible and also . . . not be naive about prime time," said Tieche, who did create a major character of Scottish heritage for the show. "I'm trying not to bury myself. What I'm hoping is that everyone will tune in and watch us, and we'll be such a huge success, I can do whatever I want."

Translation: We'll stick minority actors in supporting roles, but anything more might make the network nervous.

somehow, this all sounds very familiar to me.


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