Faces of Fall TV: Exclusive Photos of 27 New Series Stars From Kristen Bell to Kiefer Sutherland

Laverne Cox - MAIN - H - 2016
Austin Hargrave

Let the games begin! Proven draws (Ted Danson) and potential breakouts (Kylie Bunbury) are among the fall TV stars the Big?Five are betting on as they focus (or get flogged) on diversity, reboots and the battle to prove broadcast can still produce a huge hit.

If "peak TV" were the buzzwords that dominated last year’s television season, it’s the subject of diversity — in front of and behind the camera — that seems to be informing the conversation this fall. Nobody has been hit harder on the issue than CBS chief Glenn Geller, who was deluged with questions this summer about the lack of women and minorities in leading roles on his virtually all-white, all-male fall roster (see: Kevin James, Matt LeBlanc and Joel McHale). His response, one that he repeated seven times: “We need to do better.”

While there’s still more work to be done, CBS’ homogeneous lineup increasingly is the exception, not the norm. As programmers ready their 2016-17 slate, the emphasis for broadcast and cable alike is on inclusive casting and initiatives — at FX, 51 percent of directors hired now are female or people of color. Among the big swings aiming to buck the status quo — and deliver ratings as network TV continues to grapple with a fragmented landscape — are ABC’s Speechless, which centers on an actor (Micah Fowler) with cerebral palsy, and Fox’s Pitch, about the first woman (Kylie Bunbury) to play Major League Baseball. Over the course of three weeks at TCA, The Hollywood Reporter photographed more than two dozen actors headlining the 20 shows fighting for eyeballs this fall.

Additional reporting by Lesley Goldberg, Kate Stanhope and Lindsay Zibach.

This story first appeared in the Sept. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.