March 07, 2014 5:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
TV Pilot Season Trend: More Black Actors
This story first appeared in the March 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
With Scandal ruling primetime and star Kerry Washington becoming an awards-season fixture, more pilots led by black actors are in the works this season.
Viola Davis has been tapped to star in Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers' How to Get Away With Murder at ABC, Romany Malco and Anthony Anderson will top the network's Kevin Hart and Kenya Barris comedy pilots, respectively. NBC has The Office's Craig Robinson and Deception's Meagan Good leading the call sheet in Mr. Robinson and sci-fi drama Babylon Fields, respectively.
At Fox, Lee Daniels' Empire pairs Hustle & Flow duo Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson as the backbone of a hip-hop label, Jada Pinkett Smith terrorizes Batman origin story Gotham, and Octavia Spencer heads the hospital drama Red Band Society. Of these, Robinson's comedy already has been picked up to series, while Gotham has a series commitment attached. Not to be outdone, CBS has Halle Berry starring in its summer sci-fi drama series Extant.
And that's only midway through casting season.
Noted Fox chief Kevin Reilly in January: "I see the shift in the way people are conceiving the roles [and] casting them."