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Race & Ethnicity on TV

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On 4/9/2021 at 11:52 PM, Kromm said:

It's a joke, not a real casting.  It's supposed to be perceived as ridiculous. 

Yes, I understand that. But I'd bet money that the ad company  never considered the alternative with Aaron Rodgers' double played by a POC. 

In the end, Mahomes is OK with it, so I'm not going to argue with his decision. But I still think it is weird.

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On 4/10/2021 at 11:24 PM, xaxat said:

But I'd bet money that the ad company  never considered the alternative with Aaron Rodgers' double played by a POC. 

No but the actor playing the stand-in is probably the only one they really wanted.  The fact that he doesn't look like Aaron is only part of the joke.  The other part is that this guy has been in previous State Farm commercials as an Aaron superfan/stalker.  So seeing him is like "here he is again."

 

Edited by Irlandesa
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On 4/10/2021 at 4:03 PM, DearEvette said:

"All I'm saying is... Black Widow should have been played by a black woman or a spider"

"FACTS!"

Aww.... Black Lady Sketch show is back April 23rd.  I am ridiculously excited!

 

I can't wait.  Should have won all the awards!

On 4/10/2021 at 10:40 PM, aradia22 said:

That show makes me want to get HBO. Instead I'll be working my way through whatever's on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Has anyone watched the Astronomy Club show? I just found it on Netflix today while browsing.

I watched the Astronomy Club, it's funny but it didn't grab me like A Black Lady Sketch Show did. 

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Well then, I'm gonna have to check out Black Lady Sketch Show. And that Ziwe trailer has me seriously considering buying Showtime just for it lol.

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I just saw the trailer for ZIWE right before watching Desus & Mero and I am definitely intrigued.

I just really hope they tell us who is at the door on A Black Lady Sketch Show.

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tbh, the Ziwe show looks like something internet/entertainment/comedy people think is funny that I don't get. 

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22 hours ago, Popples said:

I just really hope they tell us who is at the door on A Black Lady Sketch Show.

Yes!  As well as more "The Invisible Spy" and the "Dr." 😂

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I don't pay that much attention to awards shows, so I had no idea that it's been almost a half century since the last time there were two Black women nominated for Best Actress oscars (I still think Cicely Tyson should have won in 1973).

The New York Times published an insightful article about how movies portray brilliant Black women musicians.

From the article:

Both “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” represent the singers more as victims of their social circumstances than virtuosos, potentially obscuring the contributions of two of the most innovative, influential American figures to ever sing onstage.

The article does acknowledge that that's a genre problem, that movies about brilliant artists often focus more on personal trauma than artistic talent, and that the problem is amplified when the artist is female. I suspect it's also a case of lazy story telling. When your subject is a complex example of intersectionality -- Black, female, and brilliant in a field few people outside the field understand -- it's simply easier to repeat the trope of the traumatized victim who overcomes their past.

The article does provide some hope that there are filmmakers who are willing to go beyond lazy tropes and provide more nuanced portrayals:

Ultimately, it is another Oscar-nominated film that offers up the most unencumbered depiction of Black women’s musical virtuosity: “Soul,” the animated Pixar film, with its revered jazz saxophonist Dorothea Williams (coincidentally voiced by Bassett). Partly because we know so little of her back story, she comes across as an icon, and is the musician whom the film’s protagonist, the pianist Joe Gardner, most wants to play with and emulate.

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Both “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” represent the singers more as victims of their social circumstances than virtuosos, potentially obscuring the contributions of two of the most innovative, influential American figures to ever sing onstage.

The article does acknowledge that that's a genre problem, that movies about brilliant artists often focus more on personal trauma than artistic talent, and that the problem is amplified when the artist is female. 

I did not finish Ken Burn's Jazz series because it was too boring (I actually never finish a Ken Burns series... Prohibition, Roosevelts, etc. can't do it. It feels like homework.) but I remember something to this effect in the first episode. First of all, it barely discussed women. And I think Billie Holiday was the one woman mentioned in a list of significant musicians and while all the men were being praised for virtuosic talent, her little blurb was about mental illness or other traumas. So basically, yes, I think it's even worse when the story is about a woman. 

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16 hours ago, praeceptrix said:

British-Asian actress Parminder Nagra has said she was once turned down for a role on a well-known US TV show because they "already had an Indian person".

So anyone have a good guess as to what show she is talking about. There aren't that many shows that had Indian actors as regulars, so was it The Good Wife or Big Bang Theory?

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The other detail is that a female character had left the show. 
 

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"I remember asking to go for a job because an actress basically left - it was a well-known TV show here. I remember phoning my agent and I went, 'Do you think maybe you could just suggest me? The character is very non-specific in terms of family and between 35 and 40 [years of age].

So that rules out TBBT. None of the women ever left that show. Maybe Parks and Rec when Rashida left? I would have said Lost or House but both overlap with her time on ER. But I’m leaning toward The Good Wife. They didn’t want to replace Kalinda with the same “type.”

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Yeah but then Cush Jumbo joined the cast for it's final season...and wasn't exactly a replacement for Archie's character.

Also part of the conversation:

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"And the word that came back was that they've already got an Indian person on the cast.

"I went, 'Yeah but I'm completely different to that person'. Is that ever gonna happen when you say that, 'No we've already got a white person on the show'?

It seems a non-Indian actress left, Parminder wanted to join the show, and was told they didn't want another Indian person on the cast.

So I'm ruling out The Good Wife.

Edited by Hiyo
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From 1976 to 1981, the legendary folk singer Buffy Sainte Marie and her then-husband Sheldon Wolfchild and their son Dakota all were  regulars on Sesame Street with Miss Sainte Marie singing and playing some good folks songs as well as becoming a good friend to Big Bird. Oh, and it should be noted that it seems she made television history  actually breast-feeding her baby son oncamera in 1977 and just matter-of-factly explaining to Big Bird (and the viewers) that she was simply giving him nourishment. Evidently, the first person on a nationally broadcast show to do so.  

What brought their characters to Sesame Street and why they left was never entirely clear but they did have a week towards the end of their time on the show in which they invited all the regulars to visit them in their home in Hawaii -providing hospitality by putting their guests in a large teepee (and I have to admit that I envied them being able to try that out).

Yes, the three of them are Native Americans and these were the first regulars who highlighted their heritage as well as just showing the viewers that this ethnic group are quite different from what the old movies depicted via living their contemporary lives. 

BTW, I don't recall any  Native American regular  performers or characters on Sesame Street since this family's departure and, feel free to correct me if I've missed any, but I can't recall any others on any other US television show in the last 40 years!

Edited by Blergh
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5 minutes ago, Hiyo said:

seems a non-Indian actress left, Parminder wanted to join the show, and was told they didn't want another Indian person on the cast.

So I'm ruling out The Good Wife.

Yea that is why I wasn't sure. I am trying to remember all the characters they brought in after Josh Charles left, like Michael J Fox, but she specifically said an actress left.

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Lost, maybe? Sayeed as a character was Arab but the actor playing him was of Indian descent.

Edited by Hiyo
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14 hours ago, Kel Varnsen said:

So anyone have a good guess as to what show she is talking about. There aren't that many shows that had Indian actors as regulars, so was it The Good Wife or Big Bang Theory?

Her saying an actress “basically left” is an odd phrase and made me wonder if it could have been New Girl during Zooey Deschanel’s maternity leave. 

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15 hours ago, Dani said:

Her saying an actress “basically left” is an odd phrase and made me wonder if it could have been New Girl during Zooey Deschanel’s maternity leave. 

"Basically left" could bring it back to The Good Wife since I imagine they new that Archie Panjabi was leaving for awhile. Her character's replacement Robyn was brought in midway through Season 4 (which is around the same time that Kalinda and Alicia stopped being in scenes together). Then Kalinda left at the end of season 6.

Edited by Kel Varnsen

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But then who was the non-Indian actress who left The Good Wife?

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2 hours ago, Kel Varnsen said:

"Basically left" could bring it back to The Good Wife since I imagine they new that Archie Panjabi was leaving for awhile. Her character's replacement Robyn was brought in midway through Season 4 (which is around the same time that Kalinda and Alicia stopped being in scenes together). Then Kalinda left at the end of season 6.

Kalinda leaving is exactly why I don’t think it could be Good Wife. Saying they already have an Indian doesn’t make since if that actor is the one being replaced. 

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58 minutes ago, Dani said:

Kalinda leaving is exactly why I don’t think it could be Good Wife. Saying they already have an Indian doesn’t make since if that actor is the one being replaced. 

But Jess Wexler's character on the Good Wife joined in Season 4 basically as a replacement since Archie Panjabi and Juliana Margulies wouldn't do scenes together. Then Archie Panjabi left in season 6. So it could be a replacement for Kalinda in a sense that they needed someone for the scenes with Alicia. But it would also be a case where they already had an Indian actress.

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18 minutes ago, Kel Varnsen said:

But Jess Wexler's character on the Good Wife joined in Season 4 basically as a replacement since Archie Panjabi and Juliana Margulies wouldn't do scenes together. Then Archie Panjabi left in season 6. So it could be a replacement for Kalinda in a sense that they needed someone for the scenes with Alicia. But it would also be a case where they already had an Indian actress.

To me, that is a stretch and doesn’t line up with what she said. The comment that the two are completely different types doesn’t make since if the are basically playing the same role. 

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On 4/29/2021 at 10:19 AM, Blergh said:

don't recall any  Native American regular  performers or characters on Sesame Street since this family's departure and, feel free to correct me if I've missed any, but I can't recall any others on any other US television show in the last 40 years!

Northern Exposure had some, and the recent one season Stumptown had some. Rutherford Falls (on PeacockTV) has some at the moment. But yes, very little representation and basically no progress in terms of increasing it, either.

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6 hours ago, possibilities said:

Northern Exposure had some, and the recent one season Stumptown had some. Rutherford Falls (on PeacockTV) has some at the moment. But yes, very little representation and basically no progress in terms of increasing it, either.

There was a recurring character in Malcolm in the Middle, but I don't think the actress was Native.

There was Trickster, a Canadian show that CW aired last Fall. (Season 1 is still on their website.)

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Adam Beach was a regular for a season on SVU, and Michael Horse was on Twin Peaks and The Untouchables

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On 4/29/2021 at 7:24 AM, Hiyo said:

Lost, maybe? Sayeed as a character was Arab but the actor playing him was of Indian descent.

She was a regular on ER until 2009 and Lost was known to be ending in 2010 in at least 2008. 

Edited by biakbiak

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On 4/29/2021 at 7:19 AM, Blergh said:

BTW, I don't recall any  Native American regular  performers or characters on Sesame Street since this family's departure and, feel free to correct me if I've missed any, but I can't recall any others on any other US television show in the last 40 years!

Star Trek: Voyager had Chakotay, who was problematic.

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On 4/29/2021 at 10:19 AM, Blergh said:

feel free to correct me if I've missed any, but I can't recall any others on any other US television show in the last 40 years!

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman had several Native American actors. That aired in the early to late 90s.

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She was a regular on ER until 2009 and Lost was known to be ending in 2010 in at least 2008. 

She could have still been a part of that final season. In hindsight, I would discount her though based on me not being sure what role she would have taken on during that final season (Zoe?) and I don't remember any of the female cast leaving at the end of season 5.

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feel free to correct me if I've missed any, but I can't recall any others on any other US television show in the last 40 years!

You had the character of John Redcorn on King of the Hill. Both of his VAs were also Native American. Granted, he was a recurring character as opposed to being one of the main character...

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On 4/29/2021 at 10:19 AM, Blergh said:

BTW, I don't recall any  Native American regular  performers or characters on Sesame Street since this family's departure and, feel free to correct me if I've missed any, but I can't recall any others on any other US television show in the last 40 years!

Longmire and Yellowstone.

ETA: And, controversially, Jacqueline on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt played by Jane Krakowski.

Edited by krankydoodle
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3 hours ago, GHScorpiosRule said:

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman had several Native American actors. That aired in the early to late 90s.

I don't watch it, but doesn't the current show, Longmire, feature a bunch of native actors? 

And there are several other contemporary "Western" shows.  Are people claiming there are no Native Americans on any of them? 

It's an issue of setting. I'm seeing the conclusion from some they're underrepresented, without the deeper truth that fewer shows are set in appropriate places (but the ones that ARE do seem to have some native actors--maybe still not enough, but some).

 

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46 minutes ago, Kromm said:

I don't watch it, but doesn't the current show, Longmire, feature a bunch of native actors? 

It did but it’s been off the air for 4 years. 

46 minutes ago, Kromm said:

It's an issue of setting. I'm seeing the conclusion from some they're underrepresented, without the deeper truth that fewer shows are set in appropriate places (but the ones that ARE do seem to have some native actors--maybe still not enough, but some).

What is the appropriate place for Native characters? 

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55 minutes ago, Kromm said:

I don't watch it, but doesn't the current show, Longmire, feature a bunch of native actors? 

Dr. Quinn was the last western I watched. And Larry Sellars, who played Cloud Dancing, was also the Native American consultant. I was responding to another poster's comment that they hadn't seen any Native American representation on television in the past 40 years.

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The lack of representation of Native Americans/Indigenous people in tv and film is so very depressing. 

The CBC show Trickster was one of the more recent.  But the creator lied about her Native ancestry & they decided to cancel the entire show.  So rather than, I dunno, hire some actual Indigenous writers they decide to cancel.  Meanwhile all the actors were legit Indigenous people and they are out of a job and there is now less Native rep because of it.

But on the good news front Ava Duvernay and Sydney Freeland (a member of the Navajo nation) are developing a show for NBC called Sovereign and is supposed to be a family drama centered on a NA family.

Regards setting:  I think people automatically associate NA in the US in either the South west or In Alaska.  But the Midwest and Northeast and Florida are well populated as well.   From personal experience I know that New York State is a big locale for Native Americans.  It is the home of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations).  There are nine reservations all over New York State.  The towns, the counties, the lakes:  Onondaga, Oneida, Tonawanda, Mohawk, Cayuga, Seneca, ... there are name places all over the state that use the NA names and the people who live on the Res.

I went to school at Syracuse University and Cornell.  SU is in Onondaga County.  The Onondaga Nation is right there and the Oneidas are down the road.  There was all sorts of cultural stuff happening all the time so NA presence was just a way of life like black people or white people. I grew up in upstate New York and went to school in Central NY and lived for a time in The Great Lakes region so NA invisibility is simply alien to me since I would see NA faces ALL the time in all walks of life.

There is so much untapped potential and stories there. 

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Along the same lines, I know it's not uncommon for rights to books to be snapped up without anything coming from it, but I hope that doesn't happen to the recent Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley. It's a Michigan-set thriller about a young Native woman who gets caught up in a criminal investigation. It was optioned by the Obamas' production company for a Netflix series. I haven't read it yet (the waiting list at my library is 100+ long!), but have heard really good things.

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5 hours ago, Dani said:

It did but it’s been off the air for 4 years. 

What is the appropriate place for Native characters? 

Excuse me. Setting. Not place. 

It's a sad truth that Native Americans either don't, or only minimally, live in places where most TV shows are set. At least people who outwardly and clearly enough identify as native. That's true for horrible reasons, but is true. 

I'd expect a fair and true representation for shows set where they live. A show set in New Mexico, for example, better damn well have plenty of native representation.  The entire Southwest really.  Michigan, way on the other side of the country, is another place. Oregon and Washington state. They've all got populations.  But also the places even still earmarked for "Western" shows, like Longmire (was that Wyoming, I forget...)

New York City. Washington DC. Los Angeles. Chicago.  Most of Florida, except a few small Seminole enclaves...  not so much. 

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On 4/29/2021 at 7:19 AM, Blergh said:

 

BTW, I don't recall any  Native American regular  performers or characters on Sesame Street since this family's departure and, feel free to correct me if I've missed any, but I can't recall any others on any other US television show in the last 40 years!

I don't watch Sesame Street but Northern Exposure, Longmire, Resident Alien, Flight of the Conchords, Dr. Quinn, Fargo, Westworld all featured Native American characters.

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Another upcoming show is the comedy Reservation Dogs by Sterling Harjo and Taika Waititi(!!), which has a series order from FX.

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1 hour ago, Kromm said:

Excuse me. Setting. Not place. 

I’m not sure what the problem is. You also said the fewer shows are set in appropriate places. 

1 hour ago, Kromm said:

It's a sad truth that Native Americans either don't, or only minimally, live in places where most TV shows are set. At least people who outwardly and clearly enough identify as native. That's true for horrible reasons, but is true. 

I'd expect a fair and true representation for shows set where they live. A show set in New Mexico, for example, better damn well have plenty of native representation.  The entire Southwest really.  Michigan, way on the other side of the country, is another place. Oregon and Washington state. They've all got populations.  But also the places even still earmarked for "Western" shows, like Longmire (was that Wyoming, I forget...)

New York City. Washington DC. Los Angeles. Chicago.  Most of Florida, except a few small Seminole enclaves...  not so much. 

The entertainment industry has a massive California bias and it is one of the states with the largest percentage of people who self identify as Native American. Los Angeles is the county with the largest Native population in the country. I live in California and they are underrepresented in movies and on tv based on what I see around me. 

Edited by Dani
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1 hour ago, Kromm said:

It's a sad truth that Native Americans either don't, or only minimally, live in places where most TV shows are set. At least people who outwardly and clearly enough identify as native. That's true for horrible reasons, but is true. 

Okay, but it's TV. They can set shows anywhere they want.

The actual problem is having people behind the scenes willing include Native American writers/characters/actors/stories, etc.

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12 hours ago, Kromm said:

I don't watch it, but doesn't the current show, Longmire, feature a bunch of native actors? 

I've only watched one episode, but the most prominent Native character is played by Lou Diamond Phillips, who is half-Filipino and not of Native ancestry as far as I know, though I do think a lot of the other actors playing Native characters on there are. 

I must confess, nothing against Lou Diamond Phillips, but the fact they didn't bother casting a Native American actor for the role of Henry really pissed me off and was one of the reasons I never did bother watching the show, though ordinarily it would be right up my alley. I can think of several Native American actors off-the-top of my head who would be perfect for that role, but I don't know if they ever really considered anyone but Phillips. 

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35 minutes ago, Zella said:

I've only watched one episode, but the most prominent Native character is played by Lou Diamond Phillips, who is half-Filipino and not of Native ancestry as far as I know, though I do think a lot of the other actors playing Native characters on there are. 

He’s part Cherokee although he doesn’t claim to be a Native actor. I was disappointed they didn’t chose an actor who identified as Native.  

Speaking of Longmire and Native American representation, Zahn McClarnon (Lakota) is going to be in Marvel’s Hawkeye series along with Alaqua Cox (Menominee). She’s going to be the first Native American and the second deaf superhero in the MCU and is rumored to be getting a spin-off series. 

Just shows what bullshit it is to claim you can’t find diverse actors to play diverse characters when we are about to have a deaf Native American actress playing a deaf Native American character. 

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6 minutes ago, Dani said:

He’s part Cherokee although he doesn’t claim to be a Native actor. I was disappointed they didn’t chose an actor who identified as Native.  

I just read an article that claimed he was 1/8 Cherokee, so yeah, that seems like a stretch if that was the reasoning they were using. What I find so frustrating is they actually took the time to cast Native actors and actresses in the supporting roles. It's not like they don't have those folks on their radar. 

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3 hours ago, Zella said:

I just read an article that claimed he was 1/8 Cherokee, so yeah, that seems like a stretch if that was the reasoning they were using. What I find so frustrating is they actually took the time to cast Native actors and actresses in the supporting roles. It's not like they don't have those folks on their radar. 

As an overall rule I agree, but I do think some realism has to be added to the formula.  TV productions require big investments of money. Art, and representation are, and should be, a big part of it, but from their perspective you need some people who are already famous to sell the show, to advertisers, to networks, to critics, to viewers, etc.  Now I'm not saying it had to necessarily be the person in THAT role, but I can at least comprehend the logic "pack as many established stars as we can afford into the show". Thus LDP gets that job. 

The way around it is longer term investment in people of other backgrounds.  So in some future project where they feel they need an established name to help sell the show, the native actor IS that name. But acknowledging that, I can still see why in a specific case like this, they simply made a business decision. 

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6 hours ago, Kromm said:

As an overall rule I agree, but I do think some realism has to be added to the formula.  TV productions require big investments of money. Art, and representation are, and should be, a big part of it, but from their perspective you need some people who are already famous to sell the show, to advertisers, to networks, to critics, to viewers, etc.  Now I'm not saying it had to necessarily be the person in THAT role, but I can at least comprehend the logic "pack as many established stars as we can afford into the show". Thus LDP gets that job. 

The way around it is longer term investment in people of other backgrounds.  So in some future project where they feel they need an established name to help sell the show, the native actor IS that name. But acknowledging that, I can still see why in a specific case like this, they simply made a business decision. 

Maybe this is just because I don't watch a ton of stuff with LDP in it, but is he really significantly more established as a star than, say, Wes Studi? 

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3 minutes ago, Zella said:

Maybe this is just because I don't watch a ton of stuff with LDP in it, but is he really significantly more established as a star than, say, Wes Studi? 

I'd say, yes; Phillips is more widely known. I don't think that necessarily justifies that casting, however.

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Just now, Trini said:

I'd say, yes; Phillips is more widely known. I don't think that necessarily justifies that casting, however.

Ah okay. I think I've only ever seen him in Young Guns. LOL But I've seen Wes Studi in tons of stuff. 

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1 minute ago, Zella said:

Ah okay. I think I've only ever seen him in Young Guns. LOL But I've seen Wes Studi in tons of stuff. 

Lou Diamond Phillips also played Richie Valens in the biopic that was made in the early 80s.

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Giant Misfit

Keep your comments to race and ethnicity as they relate to TELEVISION SHOWS.  If you would like to discuss social issues without TV context, please visit the Social Justice topic in Everything Else. 

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