The “Hollywood Reporter” (THR) magazine will hit newsstands Friday Mar. 15, 2013. They had reported that the TV pilot season has begun shooting in Los Angeles & around the U.S. - Producers & show-runners have diversified these TV pilots with ethnic actors & actresses. They include Black, Latino & Asian performers who may have strong supporting roles. “The Sixth Gun” western TV pilot (NBC) will come to the state of New Mexico & begin shooting through March & April. The lead characters have already been cast. It may include Native Americans but only as background extras & stunt players. It depends on the script & storyline. The TV pilot is based on a popular comic book that will be pitched to NBC as a new Fall TV show.
The 5 major networks, - FOX, CW, CBS, ABC & NBC will each have their own stable of TV comedies & dramas to choose from for their Fall season schedules. There are more than 95 TV pilots produced for all the networks combined. That doesn’t mean every pilot will be picked up or moved to a mid-season replacement show in Jan. 2014. The gamble to capture a TV audience has become extremely important to the networks because of cable & Internet stealing TV viewers.
According to the most recent ‘Screen Actors Guild’ (SAG) report 2007-08 with diversity on TV & in theatrical movies. American Indians - “Held steady at 0.3% of all roles for each of the last two years. While the feature film - low budget and episodic television categories all dropped in proportion to total roles - Increases in non-episodic television roles kept their overall proportion from all productions steady.” That study is now 5 years old & there has not been an updated report from SAG. Some things have changed but others have not.
The casting of Native Americans is primarily for the genre of ‘westerns.’ The upcoming Disney film, “The Lone Ranger” (Summer 2013) hired many natives as background extras & stunt players. Elder actor, Saginaw Grant has a minor supporting role & the studio built a ‘Comanche Indian’ village in Los Angeles.
The A&E cable TV show “Longmire” garnered huge TV ratings in the summer of 2012. It is set in a Wyoming county near an Indian reservation where actual modern natives can be seen & heard. It is a step forward for the natives in the 21st Century. The show is now filming the 2nd TV season in New Mexico.
FOX senior Vice President of casting Tess Sanchez says to THR, “It’s becoming less about filming a quota and more about why this person is amazing for the part.” Then all ethnicities including Native Americans can be cast in more TV pilots based on talent instead of a categorized genre.