Deadline has seemingly realized how ridiculous it sounded last week when it allowed one of its columnists to whine about the influx of “ethnic castings” in Hollywood.
In response to writer Nellie Andreeva’s offensive post that ran last Tuesday, where she waxed entitled and upset about how many more ethnic people are popping up on network television, editors Mike Fleming Jr. and Peter Bart addressed the issue on their site Monday.
After truncating the headline to “”Pilots 2015: The Year Of Ethnic Castings,” (which is still pretty offensive, by the way), the editors issued a lazy apology, which doesn’t even get the treatment of a full article. Instead, it appears merely as the opening of a discussion that spins off into other topics.
Fleming began the conversation by stating:
“I need to start off on a serious note. Deadline ran an article last week that generated controversy and hurt feelings. An unfortunate headline–Pilots 2015: The Year of Ethnic Castings – About Time or Too Much of Good Thing?—created a context from which no article could recover. My co-editor-in-chief Nellie Andreeva’s goal was to convey that there was such an uptick of TV pilot casting of people of color that it pinched white actors who’ve historically gotten most of the jobs, and to question if this could last if it was being treated as a fad. All this was undermined by that headline (which we changed after the fact) and a repetition of the word ‘ethnic’ that came off cold and insensitive.”
It never occurred to Deadline to yank the piece because, according to Fleming, the damage had already been done. And he was absolutely right about that point! The story had been up all night before Fleming saw the flood of heated feedback.
“It was 12 hours before I awoke to numerous e-mails, some by people of color who are sources, who trust us, who were rightfully incensed. I don’t believe you can make an unwise story disappear and pretend it didn’t happen. I observed how Amy Pascal raced around with knee-jerk apologies to anyone who’d listen, after those stolen Sony e-mails surfaced. Her actions felt like panicked damage control to me; we decided to face the consequences and take our lumps.”
Bart then chimed in:
“I have always nodded off at the word ‘diversity’ – it somehow sounds blandly corporate. The dictionary defines it as “composed of distinct forms and qualities” and I find hope in the notion of distinctive. People who are distinctive deserve the opportunities, irrespective of their color. Having said that, casting people tell me the good news that enormous opportunities have opened up for distinctive actors of color thanks to the success of several new shows.”
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But if “corporate” is what they hate, the editors hardly distanced themselves from that tone. Fleming delivered the standard, bland denial that Deadline “does not condone any racist or exclusionary sentiments” — even though a clearly exclusionary post was written by an editor-in-chief and published on the Website!
“That original headline does not reflect the collective sensibility here at Deadline. The only appropriate way to view racial diversity in casting is to see it as a wonderful thing, and to hope that Hollywood continues to make room for people of color. The missteps were dealt with internally; we will do our best to make sure that kind of insensitivity doesn’t surface again here. As co-editors in chief, Nellie and I apologize deeply and sincerely to those who’ve been hurt by this. There is no excuse. It is important to us that Deadline readers know we understand why you felt betrayed, and that our hearts are heavy with regret. We will move forward determined to do better.”
The apology is meh, at best, but it would have meant more coming from Andreeva herself. She clearly took a lot of time thinking about how the push for more equitable casting practices has rattled white actors and castings directors. Was it too much to expect of her to see the problem in what she published and then be an adult about acknowledging her wrong?
Sadly, it seems that way. So, she left it up to her co-workers to make amends. And they hardly did.
Hopefully, Deadline will be able to achieve its goal: “Do better.” But we won’t hold our breath.